Ten years ago, Pastor Namyong Kim befriended the pastor of a Sunday church. They discussed many biblical ideas, and over time the Sunday pastor came to accept the Adventist doctrines and was converted to Adventism.
“Every month in the Korean newspaper, he began announcing that Sunday worship is not biblical,” Kim recalled. “And because he had been one of them, other Sunday pastors and church members began to listen and discuss. I began to hear from many of them, seeking the Bible truth, and I told them about it.”
Kim is now senior pastor at the Garden Grove Korean church, and his passion for outreach has not waned. Today, he and his church members consider it their calling to reach out to their community and beyond, and they have organized several ministries with this in mind.
“There are more than 50 Sunday pastors and their wives with whom I have been studying the Bible,” Kim shared. “We get on Zoom at all hours of the day and night because we are in several different time zones, and we read Scripture, discuss The Great Controversy, and pray.”
Surprisingly, the pandemic has actually benefited the church’s efforts; whereas, prior to the lockdown, many Korean Sunday church pastors were actively keeping their members from engaging with the Adventist church, once churches closed, many members of Sunday churches found their way to Kim’s Zoom meetings.
Kim added, “Even some pastors have joined, their names changed and videos off, curious to learn more.”
As he got to know these pastors and their wives, Kim found that many of them were struggling with health issues such as chronic illness or cancer. In response, the church created New Start, a healthy cooking program. Meals are provided along with demonstrations and instruction, and every attendee goes home with food. This approach often leads to feeding more than stomachs.
“I met three Sunday pastors’ wives at our church kitchen who were there to learn about the health program, and then I invited them to my Bible classroom to talk more,” Kim offered as an example. “We were there for three hours as I answered their questions, and by the time they’d left, we had agreed to meet once a week for a health message and Bible study.”
Food is an important way to demonstrate the character of Christ, and the Garden Grove church doesn’t just wait for people to come to them; since the start of 2021, the church has distributed more than 1,000 lunch boxes to houseless individuals. Kim encourages his members each week to, when they go to the market for groceries, spend an extra $10 to $20 on food they can distribute to houseless people they see on their way home.
“It is important to practice not only thinking about those in need but to actively reach out to them,” Kim said.
In addition, the Garden Grove deaconesses felt a special burden to create a special online health program focused on natural remedies. As church members distributed brochures advertising the seminar, however, they found that many people they spoke to did not know what Zoom was or how to use it. And so they invited anyone who was interested to attend a training session at the church to learn how to use Zoom.
Their first natural remedies seminar saw more than 250 attendees each night, with a total of 1,300 attending over the course of the five weeks. Their second seminar was expected to have more than 1,000 in attendance each night from all over the world.
“Like many other churches, when COVID-19 hit, we began to worry how we would continue to reach our community within the new reality,” Kim remembered. “As we thought and talked and prayed, however, we found we could do many things even through a pandemic. We just had to believe it was possible and be willing to try new things.”
By Becky St. Clair