Archive for June, 2008

PK Retreat and a few changes at LEM

This week, I went to a PK (pastor’s kid) retreat. Maybe that sounds funny to you. There are many Korean PKs in Southern California. There are a bunch in USC KCM. This retreat was organized by the KAPC (Korean American Presbyterian Church) presbytery that our church is a part of. There were about 40 kids at the conference center/Bible college in Murrieta Hot Springs. It was nice to get away from work and the schedule that I’ve been following for the past month. A deacon from Cerritos Presbyterian Church led a talk in which he reflected on his life as a PK and shared his wisdom and insight on the advantages and disadvantages of being a PK. I’ve been fortunate in not having to deal with too many of the problems that many PKs and their families have experienced, which includes rebellion, neglect, slander and gossip in the congregation, power struggles within the church, frequent relocation, and hypocrisy.

Some of the discussion, I bet, didn’t impact the kids much. There was an interesting portion of the talk where he was almost preaching to the pastors (there were a handful of them there), telling them not to neglect their children, for their family is just as much of a full-time ministry, if not more, than their churches. As he told us a few bits about how he raised his sons, it made me think about what kind of family I would have in the future and what kind of father and husband I would be. He told us to pray regarding our spouses, even if marriage seemed so far in the future, since who your spouse is makes such a huge impact on everything in life. As he closed, he said that eventually most PKs would come around back to God and come to appreciate what they’ve gone through, even if it may have been difficult. All these things probably went in one ear and out the other for most of the junior high and high school kids there. Even though I am only a college student, I am already aware of the truth in all that he said, from seeing the value in weekly family time and asking God why he would choose me to be born into the faith and seeing my dad appreciate my service to the church and longing for a helper (Gen. 2:18).

I am very thankful, as was the guest speaker, that the pastors of the presbytery cared for the well-being of their children in coming up with the idea of a PK retreat. It was the fourth year that they did it, and I will definitely go next year if I can. I hope that the others, the ones that perhaps are not true believers, will understand that they are not alone and that in fact, it is a tremendous blessing to grow up in a believing household with a pastor for a father.

My heart rose in humble joy as I heard the voices of the kids join me in song during our prayer meeting tonight. I don’t think I’ve ever heard more than one or two people singing before, but today I could hear them almost as easily as I could hear myself. They seemed more willing to share their prayer requests and more attentive to what I was saying. I hope that the three others who went to the retreat (not including my brother) learned a lot and see the need to serve the church.

Starting in July, we will only be meeting once a month on Fridays. Sundays, we’ll be meeting in the choir/multi-purpose room while the KM has their service in the main sanctuary. This will leave time for fellowship after lunch. I fervently hope that these changes may help our group to grow in spirit and in truth despite the lack of leadership. May we seek God diligently despite our weaknesses and seek to edify one another in the faith.

On our own

Last Sunday, we were on our own. We met in the smaller choir room while the KM had their service in the sanctuary. I didn’t prepare much, even though I knew that we were going to have a time of praise and Bible reading. I felt horrible in the morning shortly after eating breakfast and all the way right up until we started. My dad had suffered from some stomach ailment and nausea a few days earlier, so I might have caught it from him. I felt nauseous and weak, which was unfortunate because when I arrived at church, there were visitors, friends of LEMers. I wanted to be more welcoming, but I didn’t feel good at all. Strangely, as I opened solemnly in a word of prayer before we started praise, I felt better.

We introduced ourselves to one another. All three new people were girls, so the number of boys to girls was more even. Two of them spoke English well, so that was nice. We read Romans 6 and I said a few things. I didn’t have much time to share, as the KM finished and people started to interrupt us as they wanted to put their choir stuff away. It went better than I expected. After lunch, we went to Boba Loca.

One of my first thoughts upon seeing the new people was about how they just happened to pick the worst time to visit: no EM pastor, I was sick, and I was pretty much doing everything. I led praise, prayed, led the introductions, spoke on Romans 6, and if I wasn’t sick or if my brother wasn’t willing to go pick up the lunch, I would have done that too. It was encouraging during lunch, though, to see a few people help out with getting the plates, napkins, cups, utensils, and drinks.

It’s doable, but I’d rather not have this be the norm in the long run. We need leaders, accountability, discipleship, order, and discipline. We need a foundation to make sustained growth possible.

So excited, yet so scared

Our potential new EM leaders came to church today. Eric is Korean, and his wife is Caucasian. They married last August, so they are very similar to Ariel and Sunny in terms of where they are in their lives. It was good to see Alyssa ask my mom about how to reach out to the younger kids, some who aren’t comfortable with speaking in English. Eric’s sermon on Jeremiah was solid, more so considering he hasn’t been in seminary yet. It had depth but was also addressed practically to youth. We thought he’d be close by since he’s going to attend Talbot, but they’re planning on moving to Thousand Oaks. They’re still in the process of finding a place in California to settle in, since Eric transferred to UCSB’s Ph.D. program in philosophy from OU. So I hope that the distance won’t be a burden.

I am so thankful that Ariel made the effort to screen several candidates and deem all of them but Eric unsuitable for various reasons. I am thankful that he found someone who looks like he will be comfortable with continuing what has been done in the past year and a half.

We met in a room after service, my parents, my brother and me, Eric and Alyssa, and Ariel. The situation is this: Eric will not make a decision about committing until the first week of July. Until then, they need time to move in and settle down. From talking with Ariel, it seems their reservation comes from more than the fact that they need to move back home. It could be the distance; maybe they want to serve someplace closer to home. It could be the challenges they see at our church. I could sense some hesitation as Eric responded to my dad asking him if he had any comments about their visit. When he said, “The ministry has a lot of potential and room for growth,” I sensed that his heart was not yet fully at peace. I came back home feeling uneasy.

I’m so excited but so scared. I would be so relieved and encouraged if they committed. At the same time, I know that a commitment guarantees many challenges ahead for them. We’ll be alone until July, and we might even be alone beyond then. We are not without struggles. But they aren’t either. I wait solemnly for what will happen in the next few months.