Archives for category: outreach

This insight has stuck with me since The Idea Camp in Irvine:

Open source is about making it happen for the kingdom, not about getting credit for it.

Charles Lee embodies this principle in so many ways.  One of the many movements he helps lead, JustOne, created an initiative called the Laundry Love Project as “regular opportunities to help people who are struggling financially by assisting them with doing their laundry. Relationships are built, and LLPs become small communities of common concern in which participants often find that they receive assistance and benefit with other areas of their lives.”

Our church community initiated and participated in our first LLP on Saturday, June 6th. I was so encouraged to hear about other communities around the country also hosting LLPs — check out this great photo of a standing-room only crowd in Arkansas and this site setup by a group in Red Oak, Texas.

San Diego, because of its temperate climate, has a large homeless population.  Many within our church have struggled with the idea of how to make a difference for members of the homeless community beyond giving a couple of dollars here & there when we see them panhandling at major intersections near church.

Laundry Love gave us a venue for listening to individual stories and establishing relationships while, at the same time, offering practical help.  Our church might not be very big in numbers, but we have a huge heart!  Most of our church members are not likely to strike up a Jesus-conversation with a stranger seated next to them on an airplane, but they are more than willing to get their hands dirty and serve like Jesus.  Laundry Love is a great fit for us, and we’re hoping this will be the first of many.  I’ve cross-posted the following from our church’s site:

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The Big Story

This morning, after dropping off our daughter at school, I rushed to get into James Choung‘s seminar at the National Pastors Convention, The Big Story: Sharing the Gospel in an Increasingly Unchurched Culture.  It was a full house and I’m glad, because this is a message churches need to hear.

James details challenged us to think of the Gospel as more than a “get out of hell free” card which, in the vivid words of Dallas Willard, results in “vampire Christians” who only want Jesus for His blood (drew quite a response from those in attendance). Instead, James encouraged us to think of the Gospel Jesus embodied and proclaimed — namely, the Kingdom of God.  To quote James:

The Kingdom of God: Where what God wants to happen actually happens

James describes three significant movements we need to make in our understanding of the Gospel and how we share it with others:

  • Individual > > Communal
  • Decision > > Transformation
  • After-life > > Mission-life

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I hope everyone from Southern California is safe and sound today. I couldn’t believe the news about the earthquake — we used to live in Chino Hills, the epicenter of the quake. My heart aches to protect our daughter; understandably, she was very frightened by her first earthquake but here I am, thousands of miles and an ocean away in Japan.

If you are able to, please remember to keep our Japan team in prayer. We’re heading into the homestretch of our outreach here — I’ll be disconnected as we head out for a three-day children’s camp. Please pray for our team as we seek to share the love of God across language and culture barriers with kids who have no connection with Christ at all. And please lift up a special prayer on my behalf — I’m definitely feeling my age during this trip (and all of this before we even get to camp).

I’ve posted another update with photos at sdunited.org.

Greetings from Japan, friends!

I am writing from Katsuta Church in Hitachinaka, outside of Mito City (a bumpy two and a half hour bus ride from Narita International Airport in Tokyo). I am leading a team of five people from our church community in San Diego for a twelve-day outreach in Japan.

While less than 1% of the population here follows Christ, we are privileged to be partnering with a beautiful church here. The congregation here has been nothing but hospitable, warm and gracious — and we see in them a vibrant faith that is often missing back home.

We did not come here with any colonial notions of “bringing Jesus” to the “pagans” of this nation. In fact, we have tried to maintain a missional mindset from the get-go: God is already at work in the world, and we are simply participating in whatever He asks us to do. And it has been very clear that much of our work here will be as learners.

Katstuta Church planted a church in a nearby city, Ohmiya, a couple of years ago. I had the privilege of sharing my testimony there this morning. At first glance, the church might seem small — only about ten adults and four children. However, consider that they are the first and only Christian church in the city. In this light, the two people who have given their lives to Christ and been baptized through the ministry of this church are nothing short of a revolution. Our church has a lot to learn from their example.

One really great phrase I have heard throughout the day here is the word Subarashi for the Gospel. Subarashi can be translated as “wonderful, awesome, great.” I often hear that phrase used in animes — so it definitely tickled my ears to hear it used during a church service. But more than that, I love that image of the message of Christ as wonderful, awesome and great — subarashi news!

I will try posting photos tomorrow (I foolishly left my memory card reader — and camera charger! — at home). Please keep our team and this church in prayer if you have the chance. More updates soon!

And please, no Ponzi schemes! :)

This summer, our church will be sending a team of mostly college-aged people to Japan to partner with the ministry of a local church there. The prospect of raising $3000 each has been daunting for our team members.

As pastors, my wife and I have done our best to assure them that, in our experience, money is never the thing that prevents us from participating in God’s work around the world — but, at the same time, they must be willing to work really hard to raise the necessary support.

If you have any ideas that a small group of five or ten people can use for effective fundraising, please let me know. And, if you’d like to contribute, drop me a line!

We have officially launched our new community here in San Diego: United Presbyterian Church!

Personally, it has been a tumultuous past several months — lots of soul searching, seeking after God and wrestling with some tough questions. In many ways, the struggle still continues — but I’m hoping that just as art is often born of pain, something beautiful could arise from this difficult season.

While we embrace our roots as the English Ministry of Korean United Presbyterian Church, we dream of becoming a missional people who are united with Jesus as individuals and as a diverse community, and to God’s purposes in the world.

If you are in the San Diego area, we invite you to come join what God is doing here at United!

Our website is still in a sort of beta-ish mode, but you can take a peek over at sdunited.org. Below is a graphic I designed to capture the heart of where we think God is leading us.

Although I know it has been a major buzzword (with all of the misuse and/or overuse that entails) in some circles, I have come to believe more & more in the missional church. To be missional, in my understanding, is more than simply “doing” mission work in faraway places as a program or department of a church; rather, it is the priesthood of all believers living and embodying the message of Christ anywhere and everywhere we go, participating in the missio dei with our whole lives. For some great insight into the missional discussion, check out Friend of Missional.

It saddens me when our pastor greets me with a big smile and a handful of glossy brochures of mega-church x’s summer mission program and urges me to set up our own ten day summer “mission” trips so that we can strengthen the faith of our young people and, of course, make our own glossy brochures. I’m not knocking these quick mission adventure trips. They really can be life-changing; but, in my experience, there is a strange paradox of people receiving the most when they go with the intention of giving the most.  So, to make the primary objective of these mission trips the personal enrichment of those who participate is to miss the point. I even enjoy designing brochures, but I remain unconvinced that we should do it simply because the big guys do it. With so much working against short-term mission trips, and even perhaps the very concept of missionaries (the tragedy of the Korean missionaries in Afghanistan this past summer highlighted this tension), it is tempting to dismiss completely the traditional paradigm of church and mission.

nepal1.jpg

However, there is definitely something to be said about the people who go to the hard places in order to share the love of God and the message of Christ. I was reminded of that today, as our family drove up to Los Angeles to see my mother-in-law. She has been on furlough from her mission work in Nepal for about a month, and is going back next week. She is over sixty years old and spends most of the year in one of the most remote places on earth, teaching orphans and bringing the kingdom. She gave me the bracelet above, which reminds me to pray for her, after returning from Nepal the first time a couple of years ago.

Certainly, missional living and traditional mission work are not mutually exclusive. In fact, I would imagine that missional people would want to live out and share the love of God in both their local community and around the world. And, by the same token, it makes no sense whatsoever for someone to go on a “mission trip” if they have no greater sense of the mission dei, that God is the one sending them.

May we become and build communities completely captured and sent by the love of God in Christ, everywhere.