In 2011, Adventist pastor Namyong Kim befriended the pastor of a church of a different faith. The two discussed many ideas from the Bible, and over time the pastor came to accept Adventist biblical doctrines and became a Seventh-day Adventist.
“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 the senior pastor at the Garden Grove Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church near Los Angeles, California, United States, 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 book] The Great Controversy, and pray.”
Surprisingly, the pandemic has actually benefited the church’s efforts. Before the lockdown, many Korean Sunday church pastors were actively keeping their members from engaging with the Adventist Church. However, 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 a healthy cookinurs as I answered their questions, and by the time they’d left, we had agreed to meet once a we g 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 ho ek for a health message and Bible study.”
Food is a meaningful way to demonstrate the character of Christ, and the Garden Grove Korean church doesn’t wait for people to come; since the start of 2021, the church has distributed more than 1,000 lunch boxes to homeless individuals. Kim encourages his members each week to spend an extra US$10 to $20 on food when they go to the market for groceries, so they can distribute to homeless 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 Korean deaconesses felt a particular 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 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 recalled. “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.”