Truly the young one

The first session for Hermeneutics and Bible Study Methods with Prof. and Pastor Ben Shin was yesterday. I felt tired, waking up at 6:15 to be at class by 8. But then as the class went around for introductions, I found out some people drove from Thousand Oaks, Rancho Cucamonga, and even San Luis Obispo to attend class. My drive was weaksauce compared to theirs. Then, the introductions kept coming: married with two kids, married (and brought his wife to class), married (and her husband is attending another Talbot class just down the hall with their 9-month-old), an ex-Navy pilot and FedEx pilot who moved to the area from Tennessee (whom I just found out is actually Jake’s friend’s dad…small world), the occasional single person straight from college, an economist for The Gas Company, more married with children, a man who’s been married for 45 years and has 7 grandchildren, and a bunch of 1st gen Koreans.

The last thing we did in the afternoon was find the correct interpretation for Matthew 18:20. The verse that everyone uses for prayer meetings, fellowships, coffeehouse gatherings: “For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I with them.” After establishing that the context was church discipline, Prof. Shin told us a story from his second year of ministry. He had started a Bible study on Friday nights, and he was surprised to see the college kids coming to Bible study dressed so nicely. But they would all bounce right after the Bible study. One day, curious, he followed them after Bible study and found out they went to some club in Hollywood. He noticed one of these guys hung around a lot of the girls in the church. When he confronted him about his suspicious behavior, he straight up told him to his face, “My goal is to rob every girl in this church of her virginity” and something along the lines of, what are you going to do, stop me? To which he said, yes. So he confronted him again, this time with another leader in the church, and he was still unrepentant. Taking Matthew 18:15-20 to heart, the promise that Jesus would have his back through the discipline process, he decided to tell the whole church. It was an incredibly difficult decision for him, because there was a catch: the guy was the son of an elder, and kicking out the elder’s son wasn’t going to go over well with the senior leadership. So he prepared in advance a letter of resignation which he kept in his pocket as he called out the guy at the end of service, listing his sins and warning the congregation about him. When one of the KM pastors came up to him after hearing about it, he gave him his letter of resignation, but to his surprise, he ripped it up and said, “You do not have to resign. Today we kicked out his father for the same reason.” This, of course, took him completely by surprise because he had known nothing about it.

He returned to his office to find a line of dozens of people from the ministry outside his door. And person after person came forward to repent of their own sins. When I heard this chills ran through my body…not just because of how crazy the story was and how God used the courage of the church leaders to bring people to repentance, but the fact that he talked about it so matter-of-factly. This was just the second year of ministry, he said. And the way he said it, I knew that he probably faced so many more intense issues just like that. I couldn’t imagine being a leader in the midst of that kind of sinfulness within the church.  We were all motionless in our seats, no more rustling to pack up our laptops and books to go home. What a powerful testimony of God’s grace in a very messed up church. I couldn’t imagine myself having to handle a situation like that. I have much to learn…

After class ended and most of us filed out, I introduced myself and talked to the guy who drove from San Luis Obispo at 3 am to get to campus. He’s 34 years old, married for 10, and an Army chaplain (the Army was doing drills in San Luis Obispo; that’s why he was there) and has served at a Korean church in LA for 6 years. He knows Korean, English, and Spanish (and has a total cholo English accent because when he first came to the States, there were so many Hispanics around him that his first language in America was Spanish!), and that would have been inspiration enough for me. But even just his introduction was gripping…the next day he was resigning from his leadership position at church because it was getting too difficult for him. An overtime job in part-time disguise, getting home at 1 or 2 am, which was straining his marriage, then being told by senior staff that he had to choose either the church or his marriage. And they were suggesting to him that he couldn’t keep attending the church if he stepped down from leadership. It was very sad to hear. But to hear his heart for the lost sheep in the Army was so incredibly humbling. The church thinks he’s copping out and taking the easy route by working in the Army and getting a salary, but he told me about how desperate these men are for God, how not even 10 minutes after meeting them for the first time and sharing the gospel with them, they are in tears and asking how they can be saved. The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. I have much to learn…

I read a blog post recently that talked about how pastors can get depressed. The beginning is about Charles Spurgeon and an event that happened at his church that caused him to become very depressed. Many believers just don’t know the burdens of being a pastor…

I have a lot of work to do, with law school apps and a part-time job and unpaid internship and school. There is no time to waste. Got to be faithful with each day and be diligent with my responsibilities. Because I don’t see my friends as often as I did in college anymore, I wish they would write more in their blogs. There is so much we can share with one another, about what we have been learning and where we’re headed and what goals we have for the future. Is it because we are beginning to enjoy privacy and distance now that we are getting older or because we don’t feel like setting aside the time? Are we actually too busy to write or are we too unmotivated to write? Or maybe it’s because the post-grad life is starting to wear us down and we have nothing worth writing about anymore? I hope not. Whatever the case, I’ll keep writing…thank You Lord for the soul stirring.

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One response to this post.

  1. Posted by Michael K on September 14, 2009 at 9:20 PM

    i like this entry. a lot.

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