Things Affecting Us

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

Two questions were asked of me recently (one this past week in China and the other about 10 minutes ago):

1) When Michigan loses a game, does Sunday worship service get affected?
2) Honey, do you remember when you used to get so depressed when the Chicago Bulls lost a game?

My response to both questions – “no comment”… ha!

Life is more than a football game. Life will always continue on and God will always be worthy of worship. But I am still depressed.

Balancing Life

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Viewpoint

One of the things I enjoy doing when I get back from my missions trips or conferences is to reunite with my family over dinner. I guess it has been an unspoken tradition over the years. Today, I allowed the kids to choose where they wanted to go and eat with dad.

I try to use this time to share with them all that happened while I was away from home – I share about the various people that I have met, funny stories that happened on the trip or even various needs around the world that God allowed me to see. Then, I drill them with questions about things that happened here in AA while I was gone – school, activities, etc.

These are some of my favorite times. Since, we have not seen each other for some days, it allows us to appreciate one another and give each other our full attention. After putting the kids to sleep, I was just thinking that sometimes the familiarity and the routine of things can undermine things in a relationship. I realized that balancing life with work, family, relationships, and etc. is not an easy thing, but I am thankful that God has always allowed me to do what I love most – spend time family, go on missions, meet Kingdom-minded Christians all over the world who are laboring for the Lord, read books (on the long plane rides) and the list goes on and on.

Even though it is hard juggling and balancing everything in life at times, I am thankful that God is always providing a way for me. Now it is just my responsibility to take advantage of it and make the most of it.

Trip Update

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

It was a bit difficult to get on a computer due to security reasons. The last two days have been crazy. As soon as we arrived in town, we checked into the hotel. Then the next morning, we did a quick tour of the city. It is incredible how quickly the city keeps on changing every time I come to visit. It is developing at light speed.

After lunch we headed out to another place to visit a company that has been a potential place for us teach English. When we arrived they gave us VIP passes to go walk around the facilities. It was breath-taking. They had living quarter for the workers of the company, along with a center that was like a little town with library, hair salon, grocery store, computer room, etc. all within the complex of the company.

Something that struck me was when I heard that ever since the company came, it has raised the overall level of life in the city – it brought in various businesses and the growth has been steady. We ended up having dinner with some of the key senior managers before our train ride back to our hotel. They took us to a Korean restaurant. Can you imagine that? Korean restaurants are everywhere in the world.

The thing that encouraged me was when of the senior managers said to us that his goal is to see a church planted in this city. More than seeing the company prosper, if there can be a national church where people can freely worship then one of the goals of the company would be achieved. Once again, it reminded me of the Kingdom mindset that we need to transform the world. When we understand that the things that we do are sometimes avenues for a greater purpose, then we can be faithful in the present to get to our future.

I will be heading out to the airport soon, but some of the other team members will be heading out to another city and the western part of the country to encourage the other workers on the field.

All the traveling has worn me out. I am looking forward to coming back home. I cannot wait to share with all of you more about the trip in person.
Here are some pictures:

The old side of the city – you can tell the British influence in the building structures.
This is the new side – the architecture is incredible out here.
Ah yes the mix of the old and new… the Gospel according to McDonald’s.
Pastor Bruce and I fell into temptation. We need some deliverance.
This is the train station! I have been discipled by the people and now I have mastered the art of “cutting in line.”
It was awesome to see the whole company in a miniature model.
Korean food anyone? Ah, a happy group of people who can testify with their stomachs.

Vietnam Update 7

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

We are headed out for Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC) in a couple of hours. Pastor Ben will be coming back to the States while some of the other AMI pastors and I will be going to Shanghai.

Yesterday, as we were waiting for everyone to meet downstairs for dinner, I struck up a conversation with one of the porters in the lobby. As soon as I realized that he was able to speak English fairly well, I asked him if religion was practiced here in Vietnam. He said that people were all Buddhist and then I asked him if there was a church in the area. He pointed to a Catholic church a block down from the hotel. Then I asked, “Do you know of any Christians?” I was shocked when he responded by saying, “I do not know what that word means.” I told him that “Christians” are “people that go to church,” which by the way is a bad definition, but instead of giving a theologically correct answer, I tried to keep it simple.

He responded by saying, “No, I do not know of any.” Then the Holy Spirit gave me a revelation. Sometimes people are not introduced to the Gospel because there is no visible and viable representation of Christ. This reaffirmed a conviction that I have held for some time now – “people need to see Christ and the Gospel in us.” Is this what Apostle Paul said in 2 Co 5:20, “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.” The ramifications are clear: 1) We have to become more like Christ; 2) We have to daily live out the Gospel message; 3) We have to mix and mingle with people who do not know Christ.

This morning we met up with a house church member who owned a ceramic company. They gather together as a church and worship upstairs in one of their stores. He gave us a tour of his company – we actually got to see the manufacturing of various pottery. It was a pretty cool experience because to see the transformation of rocks turned into a beautiful vase reminded me of God’s transforming work in our lives.

One thing that stood out for me was when the owner told us that when the ceramic is still soft, you can shape it and fix all the faults. But when it goes through the fire and hardens, then it is permanent. The only way to redo it is when you break the pottery and then put it through the process again.

I could not help but to think about God being the Potter and how we are just mere clay. How many times have we resisted God’s molding and shaping? We can only be usable when we go through the fire.

Here are some pictures from the ceramic company:
Pottery Making1.JPG
One of the workers molding the clay on the potter’s wheel
Pottery ready to be painted
Painting the pottery
Sea of Pottery.JPG
In the sea of pots – you break it, you pay for it
Graydon and Me - Pottery.JPG
Pastor Graydon and me in front of the pots after it came out of the furnace – it was still hot.
Target Box1.JPG
Then the packaging to be shipped out
Target Box2.JPG
Just in case you didn’t see where it would be shipped to – oh the joys of globalization!

Vietnam Update 6

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

First of all, I just wanted to thank all of you who have been praying for us. God is good and He has been answering your prayers. Yesterday, Pastor Keith met up with the former Ambassador of France. It was truly a God thing! The ambassador has committed himself in opening doors for us, as we teach English and put on other social related classes. What we thought would take months to start up can now open up anytime in just a 1 week period – oh what “connections” can do.

On this Sunday morning, we went to visit an International Church in Hanoi. Most of the Christian expatriates attend this church. It kind of had a familiar flavor with churches in the States but it was definitely different because there were many nations represented – a glimpse of heaven.

Then we ended up going to a Vietnamese style food court in the city for lunch. It was a good time of fellowship. We are getting ready to go back to Ho Chi Minh City tomorrow. Then from there we will be flying out to Shanghai, China.

God is opening up tremendous doors for us to start up English Academies and various businesses. We are also seeing God open up doors for future training schools for various underground church leaders and pastors.

As I am sitting here at a café, it is humbling to think that I am alive to experience all that God is doing in my generation. I am truly blessed.

Here are some pictures:
Streets at Night.jpg
The streets of Hanoi at night – try crossing to the other side. For the old school people… it is just like playing Frogger on the highest level… crazy!
Int'l Church.jpg
Sunday morning worship celebration in the Hanoi International Fellowship church.
Food Court.jpg
This a Vietnamese style food court… I think there is a restaurant in every other building. It is all about the Pho!
Eating Ribs.JPG
After eating like this… Pastor Bruce and I have been talking about working off our food testimony. We have been taking the stairs instead of the elevators in our hotel. Translation: we are afraid of what our wives would say when we come back not as muscular and handsome as before :-)

Vietnam Update 5

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

We walked around the city of Hanoi this morning and afternoon. Hanoi is definitely a different city than Ho Chi Minh City (HCMC). Hanoi is more of a governmental city, while HCMC is the business center of Vietnam. There is unquestionably more openness to spiritual things in HCMC. But as some of the team members and I were talking, we came to the conclusion that there was more of a purer Christianity here in Hanoi. It is probably because of all the persecution that is still going on.

But God is bringing a change in this city… starting from tomorrow (November 12th-19th) the Asian-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) will be meeting here in Hanoi. Vietnam was admitted into the APEC in November 1998. APEC is a forum for facilitating economic growth, cooperation, trade and investment in the Asian-Pacific region. APEC has 21 member economies, which account for more than 40% of the world’s population and 60% of the world’s GDP. As Vietnam grows economically, we are praying that it will open up doors for the Gospel – similar to what we are seeing now in China.

Walking in Streets.JPG
As we walked around the streets, we could tell that development is happening throughout the city.
Here is a Buddhist woman worshipping in front of a temple. I sneaked in a picture of her burning the incense and praying. The need for the Gospel is clearly evident wherever you go.
Buddhist Woman Worshipping.jpg
We visited the first university in Vietnam. It got me excited because I really believe that God uses college students to transform the world. It caused me to pray for the young people in Vietnam. Pastor Ben and I decided to take a picture right in front of the university entrance.
Ben and me - 1st University.JPG
Here are some other random pictures:
Me and Monks.JPG
What a contrast! I think they were recommending me to cut my hair.
The Pigs.JPG
Sorry, you animal lovers out there – I don’t think the pigs knew about their destinies… the Vietnamese love pork out here.
The Pastor Boys.JPG
Some of the pastors – we were going to take the picture in front of some flowers and show our softer side… but some of us declined.

Vietnam Update 4

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

We landed in Hanoi this morning and we were greeted by some workers in the unregistered church (underground church). We quickly checked into the hotel and then went out for lunch. The place that we went to was a culinary school that was run by a person who was open to Christianity. It was encouraging to see someone trying to help their own people find a career where they can succeed.

In the late afternoon, we stopped by a graduation service for students who were graduating from a bible training school. They were taught from a video curriculum. It was encouraging to see the joy on the faces of these students as they received their certificates. We are prayerfully considering a partnership with this school to help train up future leaders in Vietnam.

One thing I keep on forgetting is that Vietnam is still a Communist country. I think there was more religious freedom in Ho Chi Minh City, since it is more of a metropolitan area (similar to NYC). But in other places in Vietnam, there is still active persecution going on. I think they are even trying to block my website. Do they think it is too dangerous?! HA!

Anyways, there are other ways to get information out. I will show more generic pictures for now:
Preached at a revival meeting… I had to explain why I, as a pastor, had long hair.
Got a picture from the plane as we were able to land in Hanoi airport
Here are some of the graduates holding on to their certificates
This grandma was almost 80 years old and she humbled us by her passion for Jesus
Servers at the culinary school… Pastor Bruce jumped in at the last minute.

Vietnam Update 3

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

Last night we had a great service with an underground church. I preached from Joshua 5. I talked about how God is a God who provides change, covenants, and courage. It is so encouraging to see the Church here in Vietnam on fire for the Lord – their heart of worship and their passion in their prayers are infectious.

We are getting ready to fly out to Hanoi (the northern part of Vietnam). I heard the weather will be cooler there (thank God). We will be surveying that region and seeing what God has been doing throughout the years. As some of you know, Hanoi was the place where many of the U.S. soldiers were held as POW’s.

Please pray for:
1) Traveling mercies as we go from place to place
2) God’s favor and open doors as we meet various church pastors and leaders
3) God’s protection – not just physically but most of all, God spiritual protection

Even Thousands of Miles Away

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

This morning, I lifted up a prayer for the funeral service that our church will be having for Andy. There will be people attending this service in Ann Arbor before his body gets buried in Arlington Cemetery. Pastor Dave will be leading the service and people are expected to gather together to pay their last respects. I heard that even the mayor of Ann Arbor will be attending. Even though I am in Vietnam, my heart is still in Ann Arbor.

I am constantly reminded that God uses tragedy and turns it into triumph. It is incredible to imagine how God is being glorified and the opportunity to proclaim Christ is tremendous. Lord, Your ways are sometimes mysterious and beyond understanding but we will always trust in You.

Vietnam Update 2

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

Today was a day of saturating ourselves with Vietnamese history. It allowed us to experience the history from the perspective of the Vietnamese people. First of all, we had the great privilege and opportunity to visit the Vietnam War Museum. The story of the Vietnam War was told from the perspective of the Vietnamese… it is interesting how history is always told from various perspectives. It was humbling to know that many Americans and Vietnamese died on the soil that we were walking on.

We also had the opportunity to go to the Vietnamese Culture Museum. The country of Vietnam is rich in culture. All their arts and artifacts describe a culture that displayed elegance and grace. It was beautiful.

The highlight of the day was meeting the first church and pastor that went underground after the war and when the Communist took over the country. He was a humble man (by the way, I realized that is always the prerequisite of being used of God in a mighty way). When you first meet Pastor Tu, you would never realize the incredible stature of the man.

He has 2,500 in 311 areas under his apostolic leadership. His membership totals close to 400,000 people all throughout Vietnam. Oh I forgot to mention that he was imprisoned for 4 months in 7 different prisons. Almost all of his staff members suffered imprisonment. In the midst of their suffering they found encouragement because many godly people in the Bible were imprisoned (Joseph, Daniel, Apostle Paul, etc). Just recently, due to all the development in the country and the openness of the government, they have recognized Pastor Tu as the top leader of all of the Christian movement in the country.

Whenever I have the privilege of meeting people like this, I am reminded that people do not reach a certain level of influence without suffering. There is something about pain and hardships that draw people closer to God and it keeps them humble. It was truly by God’s grace that we were able to meet him because he was out of town and just got in this morning. God’s timing and opportunities are amazing.

Please keep me in prayer because I am going to preach at an underground church revival meeting tonight.

Here are more pictures:
On top of a destroyed U.S. tank at the Vietnam War Museum
Ben and me with hats.jpg
Pastor Ben and I were trying to go local
Pastor Tu.jpg
Meeting with Pastor Tu and his staff – he is the 2nd from the left
I shot a M-16 and a AK-47 at the museum driving range. Wow! Truly exhilarating!

Vietnam Update 1

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

After our long flight from DTW to Japan and then Japan to Vietnam, we met up with the rest of the AMI team. There are about 10 of us here. It has been pretty exciting so far… by the time we got to the hotel it was already 12:30AM and we had to get up at 6AM.

We began the day at 7AM by visiting various house churches and praying for the pastors and leaders. It is pretty humbling to see so many of the Vietnamese Christians on fire for the Lord. We stopped by one gathering where the people had been fasting for 4 days (once a month they fast 5 days). They had a deep hunger and thirst for God. Seeing their devotion was challenging, and it’s no wonder God is doing great things in these churches.

We have been soaking in the various sights and sounds of Ho Chi Minh City. It is a developing country and there is a lot of potential in this place. This is going to be a strategic place to reach this whole area, and we pray that God will establish a strong witness here for the many people who do not know Christ.

I hope to update with more things soon.
Please pray for us.

Here are some pictures:
The long plane rides… Pastor Ben and I preparing ourselves for another flight.
Visited a house church and prayed for healing
The streets of Vietnam
Scooters galore… it is incredible the number of scooters out here
A house church gathering
Another house church gathering
I caught Pastor Ben pigging out…haha! The food is incredible here.

Asia Trip With AMI

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Visits

I will be heading out to the airport soon. The AMI Trans-local Team and some of the other leaders from the various AMI churches will be going to Vietnam and China. We are trying to open up doors for Vietnam and in China we will be visiting some of the AMI missionaries.

I am excited about this trip since God has been doing so much in these two countries. I will try to get internet access to give updates on our journey there.

Please keep our team in prayer.

Last Home Game of 2006 Season

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various

The boys and I decided to go to the last home game of this season. Some people told me that we would be able to get tickets for $5 or $10 since the game was against Ball St. Also, I was told that if the game is already underway then the sellers will be willing to go down in the price. So, we went to the stadium looking for tickets.

To my surprise, people were selling the tickets for $40-$50 per ticket?! If you multiply that by 3 then it would be impossible for us to get into the game. I did everything that I could to bargain and talk with some of these “dealers.” I tried to explain that this was Elliot’s first game and that it would mean a lot to him, but I got the same answer – “no money, no tickets.”

So many things were running through my mind. Truthfully, it hurt my ego that I had to explain to the boys that we could not spend that much money on tickets. It also hurt because I did not want the boys growing up despising the ministry and the limitations of a pastor’s family.

It was pretty embarrassing waiting around for someone to come around and sell their tickets to us for a fraction of the asking price. By this time it was the end of the 1st quarter. I was about to give up and call Christina to pick us up… when I invited the boys to pray with me. Can you imagine? The three of us in the front of the largest stadium in the world and we were praying that God would provide us with some tickets – cheap ones!

Then all of a sudden a man came up to us and said, “Do you guys need a ticket… I just have one and I will just give it to you.” Wow! I took the tickets and starting praying for 2 more :-) Then I talked with one of the sellers again and asked if he was willing to sell the tickets for cheaper since it was the end of the 1st quarter. He ended up selling 2 tickets (great seats) for $40. Therefore, all three of us were able to get in for $40!

But there was one dilemma – two of the seats were together while the other one (the free ticket) was in a completely different section. We decided to all sit together and have Elliot sit on my lap. God’s provision for that day was more evident when the person sitting to the right of us was a little kid and three people sitting on the left of us were kids. Therefore, due to the smaller stature we were able to all sit down even though there should have been room for only 2 people.

At the end of the day… I was thankful for God’s favor (once again)… God is good!

Here are some pictures from the game:
We got some great seats for a cheap price
The halftime show
It felt like we were in the game
Boys and me.jpg
Three happy people that got into the stadium by God’s grace and anointing :-)

Don’t Forget to Vote

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Viewpoint

Since I will be out of the country next Tuesday, I went into the courthouse today and voted in an absentee ballot. This is a mid-election year, but there is a lot at stake in the State of Michigan. There are many Proposals that are trying to pass this year therefore we have to speak up.

Some reflections:

1) There are a lot of people who sacrificed their lives throughout history to give us this privilege and right to vote in our country. It wouldl be irresponsible of us, as U.S. citizens if we fail to vote.

2) Even though sometimes I think to myself – “how can one vote (my vote) make a difference?” But then I think about many elections that were decided by several votes. I want to make a difference.

3) The way I voted on issues and candidates when I was younger is a bit different from the way I vote now, especially with my family and kids in the picture. I realized that there are a lot of candidates and “proposals” that are not very family friendly. I have to speak up for my children.

4) It is easy to label a certain candidate due to their party affiliation, but we need to judge the worth by how convicted they are about their stance. Not all Democrats are liberal and not all Republicans are conservative.

5) It is important to be informed on the issues and candidates’ stance on issues before voting. There is just too much at stake – do not guess or just go with party affiliation.

Don’t forget to vote this Tuesday, November 7th.