Reflections on 2011 One Desire Fast

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Victories, Viewpoint


Photo by HMCC Publication Team
I will confess – I hate fasting, but it is a spiritual discipline that has been a part of my spirituality ever since I was in college. For some reason, with all the ups and downs of fasting, God has used it to really minister to me over the years. This is why as we were preparing for the One Desire Fast 2011, I just knew that God still wanted to deal with various areas of my life.

When I was younger, I always saw fasting as “denying” myself of food and that through fasting I was somehow becoming more holy. But Christina would be the first one to tell me that I am becoming anything but holy. There have been many times when I would have to double check my motives and most of all, my attitude. It is always during fasting where all the ugliness of my heart would come out. I am wondering if fasting is one of God’s tools and purposes of showing who we really are.

This year’s fast for some reason has been a little bit different. In the previous years, I really had to guard my heart against various things; but this year I really felt God was doing something not only in my life but in the life of our church.

Here are some personal reflections and realizations from the One Desire Fast:

1) The simplicity of focus. This year we did not have our annual congregational retreat. It was our conviction to simplify some things in our church structure. Therefore, in the month of January, the only thing on our church’s calendar was the One Desire Fast. Even in our Sunday sermon series, we decided to preach on the spiritual habits of a Christ-follower and the first part was on the topic of fasting. We also had specified applications that were specifically geared towards the response of building spiritual habits. We never had this kind of focus for just a fast. But the more I reflect on this, the more I see how our focus does play a huge part in the benefits of having a corporate fast. Also, instead of focusing so much on the food (what we can eat and not eat), we tried to focus on the various prayer topics.

2) The spiritual warfare.
It was incredible to hear all the different stories about how members were experiencing spiritual warfare during this fast. People were having weird dreams, struggling through some old sins from the past, getting more distracted, sensing an intense feeling of spiritual opposition. One day, I was talking to Christina and asked her why she thinks the spiritual warfare was happening and her answer left me speechless. She said, “It is not that there is more spiritual warfare, but as people are fasting, we are more spiritually aware of the battle that occurs every day.” What she said was so true. When we are fasting we are just awakened more to what goes on throughout a normal day. This definitely caused us to pray more and depend on God’s protection.

3) The strength of unity. For some reason, it just felt like more people were fasting than in the previous years. I was very encouraged to see that all our LIFE Group members (married couples) participating in the fast. Usually it is harder to motivate post-college people to make the sacrifice to fast and seek the Lord. But when I found out that our members were fasting, it made me realize the power of unity. Even as we were meeting together for LIFE Group on Tuesday, we just knew that we were standing together and persevering together. We had a great time of sharing and praying for one another. I also felt this on the church-wide level. It was inspiring to see some of the people fast for the first-time in their spiritual journey. Then to see all our HMCC churches fasting together and praying for one another, it was mind-blogging.

4) The spread of the Gospel. After our fast, a lot of people were getting the sense that God wanted to challenge us, as a church to be more outward focused. It is so easy to be focused on ourselves, especially when we are doing a fast. But ultimately, we have to realize that the fast was preparing us and positioning us for something greater. There was a tremendous burden for us to find ways to spread the Gospel message throughout our campus and our community. Now that our corporate fast is finished, we are going to pull our resources and our attention to reaching out to more lost people. I am wondering if we want to grow in gaining God’s heart for reaching the lost, then we need should seek God by committing ourselves to a fast.

With all these blessings, I am looking forward to another opportunity for our whole church to come together to fast and to seek God as one body. But in the meantime, we are excited for all the things that God has in store for us in the months to come.

A Vision for Detroit

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Vision


Photo by Getty Images
When you look throughout the Bible, you will notice the significance of cities. It was in particular cities where God revealed Himself and where He sent people to declare His truth. As we specifically look at the early church, we notice that once persecution started (Ac 8:1), the believers were scattered throughout the world in various cities and they ended up preaching the Gospel (Ac 8:4). Even in Apostle Paul’s missionary journeys, we see how he entered into various cities in different regions.

In my time in Jakarta in 2009-2010, I begin to understand the greater significance of the city. I was amazed to see how Jakarta, the capital and the largest city in Indonesia, was able to affect and influence the rest of the country. Jakarta has about 9.5 million people which is a small fraction of the 238 million people in Indonesia; but Jakarta is the country’s economic, cultural and political center. Therefore, what happens in Jakarta affects the rest of the country.

Recently, God has been placing a burden on my heart for Detroit. I still remember my first time going to Detroit when Christina and I moved from Chicago to Ann Arbor back in 1996. With all our nostalgic memories of Chicago, we decided to drive to downtown Detroit. Our first-time experience in Detroit ended up being a rude awakening for us. We were shocked to see all the dilapidated buildings and the decay in the city landscape. It was hard to believe that in history, Detroit was once a thriving and growing city because of the economy, music and the arts.

After that experience, we only went to Detroit a handful of times for various sporting events and music performances, but other than that we had no reason to go there.

But God has been bringing various things into my life in order to get my attention and to stir a burden for the city of Detroit. First, there was a discussion with a few married people after one of the evening sessions of our Covenant (married couples) Retreat back in September. We talked about the dismal condition Detroit was in and how things can change if someone just had a vision. For some reason, I could not get this discussion of my mind.

Secondly, through various articles and news information, God was trying to put a greater burden in my heart for all the needs in Detroit. In fact, one poignant article was in Forbes Magazine. They had an interactive map and it graphically showed where Americans were moving in and out of various cities. It revealed that more than 10 million Americans moved from one place to another during 2008 and it was displayed by black lines, which indicate net inward movement, while red lines showed net outward movement.

I just clicked on to NYC first and then to Detroit and instantly, my heart began to break (refer to the graphs below).


Then recently, I read a Newsweek article titled, “America’s Dying Cities”. Not only was Detroit in this Top 10 list, but two other Michigan cities (Flint and Grand Rapids) made the list. What is going on? God, what are you trying to say to me? What is it that you are trying to do? What do you want me to do?

Thirdly, back in November, someone forwarded a video to me. The video explained an evangelistic campaign called EACH (Everyone A Chance to Hear) where many churches around the greater Metro Detroit area were uniting together to reach Detroit with the Gospel.

You can watch the video here:

After watching the video, I was gripped with the conviction that God was already working in the hearts of His people to have a burden and a vision for the transformation of Detroit. This is when I doubled checked and realized that the video was produced right around the time when some of the married people and I were talking about Detroit back in September.

With this realization, I felt convicted to share the vision of transformation for Detroit with our whole church during our All Church-Wide Gathering on a Friday in early December. After the message, the response and prayer time, several people came up to me and shared how God has put a burden in their hearts for Detroit, but they didn’t know what to do with it. But as the Spirit moved that night and after hearing the message, some of the members started to see the possibility of a future church plant in Detroit, near the Wayne State University campus. I was blown away with the intensity of the people’s willingness and commitment to do whatever is required to be a part of what God was doing in Detroit.

Fourthly, I was able to contact one of the African-American pastors who is part of the leadership for EACH. All I can say is that it was a divine appointment. In our meeting, we ended up sharing our testimonies and how God has given us a burden for the greater Detroit area. As God is opening up more doors for me to interact with various pastors who are committed to Detroit, we are coming to the conclusion that the situation with Detroit is actually a spiritual problem; and out of this, comes forth all the issues of the economy, crime, gangs, corruption, and etc.

Even though this journey so far has been only 5 months, I am confident that God is going to do something extraordinary. As our church is fasting and praying, we are preparing ourselves to be positioned to obey God with whatever He brings our way. If reaching out to Detroit is something that God is doing, then we are praying that He would give us the privilege of being part of His awesome work.

All I know is that God is moving in the hearts of some of the college students, who are taking entrepreneurship classes and gaining a vision and heart for reaching Detroit. God is also stirring in the hearts of the single adults with the possibility of even moving out near Detroit, where it not only closer to their workplace, but they want to be a part of bringing transformation and revitalization to the city of Detroit.

We are just humbled and amazed.

Can it be that God would use a city like Detroit, where is it know for so many “bad” things, in order to show the world that when God’s people unite together to pray and seek His face that He can turn things around?

What a testimony would it be of God’s power and grace!

“But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things – and the things that are not-to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him” (1 Co 1:27-29)

Lessons on Leadership from Steve Jobs

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Viewpoint


Photo from
As many of you probably heard, Steve Jobs, the CEO of Apple recently took a leave of absence because of medical reasons. First of all, this is not his fist leave of absence attributed to health reasons. Back in 2004, Jobs took a leave of absence due to pancreatic cancer. Then in 2009, he took another leave of absence to receive a liver transplant.

Therefore, in the wake of this recent leave of absence, people are wondering what is going to happen to Apple. As I was reading up on the news, I couldn’t help but to think through some leadership principles that were involved in this situation:

1) As a leader, we must always assembly a great team. Even though much of where Apple is right now is attributed to Jobs’ leadership, we have to remember that there are a lot of talented and good people who work for Apple. Jobs might be the innovator and the visionary, but the key is putting together a great team of people, who are just as passionate about the things that you are passionate about.

2) As a leader, we must always prepare for transitions. We just never know what will happen in any organization or church. This is why we must always be ready for various transitions that we will have to face. It is really a forward-thinking kind of approach to the life of the organization. Change is the only constant; therefore we must always prepare for change.

3) As a leader, we must always remember our frailty. Great leaders are people who understand their weaknesses and their strengths. They recognize what they can do well and what they need help with. They usually have a good perspective about themselves, which causes them to be humble when it comes to their own shortcomings. When we see our frailty, it forces us to see the bigger picture better.

4) As a leader, we must always be making disciples. Apple’s COO, Tim Cook was given the responsibility of managing the day-to-day operations of the company. This is something that he did back in 2004 and 2009. It shows that Cook understands the heart of the company and the goals that it wants to accomplish. This did not happen overnight, but as Cook has been with the company for some time, he was able to develop and understand the ethos of the company – something that the leader has to pass down to other people in the company.

I have included below a video of Steve Jobs giving the commencement speech for Stanford back in 2005. This is probably one of the best commencement speeches I have ever heard. It gives a glimpse into this leadership legacy. It is definitely worth the 14 minutes.

MLK 2011

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

Throughout history, there were people who made an indelible mark on the hearts of humankind and in society. In fact, they became the catalyst for starting movements that transformed the world. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a person who lived in a time in American history where there were enormous injustices. King dared to stand on his convictions and became a spokesperson for the Civil Rights Movement; and history was never the same.

God is constantly raising up people in different generations to be an agent of change and transformation. In the 1960’s we had Martin Luther King, Jr., but who is God raising up in the new millennium? It is encouraging to see many young people today who are living their lives with purpose and passion. We are definitely on the cusp of something great in our generation.

So, in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr., here is a full version of his speech. It is definitely worth the view.

Wrestling with Transformation

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint


Inevitably in my travels as I talk about the Gospel, the Church and the Kingdom of God, the topic of “transformation” comes up. Usually, I always get two responses from people. Either I get a passionate response as we talk about transformation or I get a cynical and jaded look from people.

For the people in the latter group, I am coming to the realization that they have been hurt, whether it is from other people or even the disappointment of not seeing genuine transformation in their lives. If I am honest with myself, I find myself fluctuating from one end to another with my own journey of transformation.

The more I engage in this fight for transformation, the more I am coming to the realization that transformation is really a process. It is a process where God’s character and His commitment to us are more at work then all our striving. God, in His Faithfulness gives us the grace needed in order to become more like Jesus Christ.

Margaret Manning, who speaks and writes for Ravi Zacharias International Ministries gives a similar insight in regards to the process of transformation. She writes,

Over coffee at the ubiquitous Starbucks, my friend shared the story of his departure from his Christian faith. He did not leave his faith over a whim or because of some intellectual crisis he couldn’t resolve with his dearly held beliefs. He left because his work as a journalist led him into Christian circles where he met some of the most influential Christian leaders and teachers. He left his Christian faith because as he traversed these circles, he saw very little evidence of true, Christian transformation of character, values, and lifestyle. What he witnessed was a group of men and women who resembled the world more than they did Jesus. The dissonance between what was espoused in word and what was clearly missing in deed caused him to doubt the transformative power of the gospel. If Christianity made little difference in the lives of these Christian leaders – to whom so many look for guidance and example – what difference could it make in his life?

Many of us, at one time or another, have wrestled with a similar conflict. We may not walk away from belief or religion as my friend did, but we have been stung by disillusionment when our favorite leader, mentor, or friend turns out to have feet made of clay. Moreover, when we hold a mirror up to our own lives, we often see very spotty reflections of transformation. If we aren’t already discouraged at the lack of transformation in others, we certainly will be discouraged when we take a good, hard look at our own lives.

Why is transformation so hard? And why do we seemingly see so little of it in our lives, no matter conviction or creed? We still lose our tempers, we get irritated at co-workers, we covet, we lust, and we are faithful idolaters. For Christians, this is especially problematic because transformation is so clearly written into the good news of the gospel. Yet, an honest comparison of Christians and non-Christians leads us to wonder exactly what this transformation really looks like.

The writers of the Bible anchor hope for transformation in a God who employs less than stellar characters in the work of redemption. Transformation in biblical narratives enjoins God’s faithfulness to imperfect human beings. Noah got drunk; Abraham lied twice about Sarah being his sister; Gideon became an idolater; Samson failed to honor his vows; David committed adultery; Paul and Barnabus argued over John Mark and went their separate ways; the disciples of Jesus all left him in his moment of need and fled. The psalmist alerts us to the fact that God is not ignorant about humanity’s humble condition: God knows what we are made of; God is mindful that we are but dust. Yet in spite of this dusty substance, God is at work in and through flawed individuals. God can, and does, use us despite our fits and starts in following.

Perhaps, our own journeys of transformation reflect a similar experience. For those who follow the God of reconciliation, the hope of the living gospel, God indeed changes our names and gives us new identities in the hope of becoming all that God intends for us. But God undertakes this work in a way that leaves our humanity intact. The hope of transformation doesn’t undo our human limp. Instead, transformation is a gift of grace – a recognition of how far one must still journey to become more than we are, while we entrust our limp to the faithfulness of God to walk alongside all the way.

The bottom line: As God puts you in the rink of transformation, keep on wrestling even though it is hard; and God, by His grace will finish the job.

The Bible Can Transform Us

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Viewpoint

One of the things that I always start in the new year is to make a commitment to read through the whole bible in one year. It is a habit that I have been doing for awhile now. There have been many times when I wanted to quit… been behind in the reading… didn’t feel like doing it, but through it all, my soul was always refreshed with His Word.

Now that I am getting older, I am learning how to appreciate those quiet moments in God’s Word. Some of the best insights to sermons have come through meditation on a passage. Some of the best words of wisdom during my counseling times have come through a truth I memorized. Some of the best moments of assurance have come when I had God’s Word to back me up. Some of the best times of stepping out in faith have come when God’s Word was guiding me.

I want to encourage all of us to allow God’s Word to do the transformative work in our minds and hearts in 2011. It just takes a decision, determination and dependence. We will never be the same.

Below is a video of a 11 year old boy who memorized the order of the Bible and was able to articulate how Jesus is seen in every book in the Bible. Amazing! If an 11 year old boy can do it, then I think none of us have an excuse. Let’s do it!

Chile Missions 2010 Update 5

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Viewpoint, Visits

At this moment I am sitting in front of a computer at the airport hotel lounge. So many different things are running through my mind, as one of the team members, Josiah and I are still here in Chile, while the rest of the team just arrived in Detroit. To make a long story short, there was a mistake on two of our team members flight reservations – one of them just happened to be my son. After trying our best to get on the flight yesterday with the rest of the team, it was obvious that with 5 minutes left before closing the gate that there was nothing we could do. Therefore, I made the decision to stay behind.

It was humbling to see all the Chilean families, who came out to the airport to say bye to us, stick around through the whole 2 hour ordeal. As we came back out to the main area, they “welcomed” us back to Chile and saw it as a sign from God that it was destiny for us to live in Chile forever :-) In their love and care for us, they expressed how badly they felt; and they even offered to house us again.

Then I was reminded about how strongly I believe in the Sovereignty of God. Everything in life happens for a purpose and a reason. God never makes mistakes. Sometimes it is hard to say it or believe it, but after all these years of being a Christ-follower, I have come to the (hard) conclusion that God will always have His way and He does all things for His glory. We can either argue or accept God´s will. I realized that it is in these moments where our practical theology (applying what we really believe about God) comes into play. We can say that we trust in God´s Sovereignty and that He is in control of everything, but we will never really know until it is tested.

Today, after everything has settled down a bit, I am seeing things more clearly. I have been able to have a good talk with one of the members, while our experiences here are still fresh in our minds and hearts. This is something that probably would have been delayed due to our situations as soon as we arrive back in Ann Arbor. I have been able to walk through with Josiah in processing through some of his experiences as he has been journaling and reading the word. Also, in the next few hours, I will be able to spend some more time with the pastor of Pueblo de Dios and share our hearts together about the future of missions here in Chile. I will also spend some time with our translator who has a beautiful gift of music. We are dreaming together about even making an international CD with music from all over the world.

I am wondering if our “delay” back to the States is turning out to be something that God planned out perfectly for us. Even though I was looking forward to seeing Christina, Elliot and KiKi, the delay is building an even greater anticipation.
p.s. Christina just contacted me and mentioned that “yook gae jang” (my favorite Korean soup I like to have after my travels) will be waiting for me when I come back. Maybe all this waiting is really turning out to be worth it. I am truly thankful for everything.

This was JoJo’s and my host family who showed us Christ’s love to us

Pastor Sergio and his wife, who blessed us with their servants’ hearts

Here are some of the young people of Pueblo de Dios that we connected with

The Chilean flag was presented to the team – it was a great honor

A closing Chilean sunset over the Andes Mountains

Chile Missions 2010 Update 4

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Viewpoint, Visits

This past Sunday we had a busy Lord´s Day. We started off by worshiping at the main church, Pueblo de Dios. Right from the start, we felt the presence of God as we started the service with prayer and then entered into an intense time of praise. There is something about the Latino praise and worship that always speaks to my heart.

This was a special Sunday, not only because it was the first Sunday of the new year but because they were planning on taking three specific offering – yes, I will repeat it again – three offerings! I think this is something that we can always learn from other churches. I am constantly amazed at the generosity and the sacrifical giving of God´s people; especially from people who might not have a lot of material wealth but they definitely have a lot of spiritual wealth.

To see the joy in the hearts of people as they gave their offerings, as well as to see their passion for God´s presence, it really humbled me. There is definitely a difference; and I am praying that God will put that same joy and passion in all the HMCC churches, as we seek the Lord together.

After the Sunday Celebration, the team went to their specific host families for lunch. Josiah and I went back to our host family for a Chilean barbeque. At this barbeque, I had the privilege of meeting a pastor who did a lot of ministry in southern Chile. It was great hearing some of the stories of God´s power and testimonies of God´s work in the region.

Then in the evening we ended up going to another Sunday Celebration. This church was planted about 5 months ago by our host church, Pueblo de Dios in another part of Santiago. This is a significance church plant because they are in an area where there is a lot of crime and drug abuse. During the service, we heard testimonies from people who recently came to know Christ and it was an incredible reminder about the life-transforming power of the Gospel.

In our last several days in Chile, we ministered in two orphanages on Monday and Tuesday. One of the orphanages was an all-boys orphanage. It was very sobering to hear that the boys who were in this orphanage were sexual abused and had parents who were in jail. This explained why so many of these boys were struggling with various issues. You just couldn´t help but cry out for them and praying that they would come to know the love of Jesus Christ.

We closed out our time with the Chilean host families and the whole team by blessing them with a great dinner at a favorite restaurant. It was a powerful time of sharing how we were blessed by their love and their generosity. Who would have thought that poeple from two different cultures can love one another in such an awesome way? It was definitely a testimony of God´s love. It was a great night of food, fun and fellowship. What more could we have asked for? God is truly good!

Worshiping with the members of Pueblo de Dios

I had the privilege of preaching God’s Word on Pueblo de Dios’ 1st Sunday of 2011

The team blessed the church with a musical presentation

Pastor Pete preached at another site in a different part of Santiago

Chileans definitely know how to do the BBQs – it was awesome!

This was our awesome chef. He was definitely passionate about BBQs

We gave gifts to the kids of one of the orphanage outreach

Josiah using his soccer skills to minister to some of the kids

Another outreach at a different orphanage – it was an all-boys orphanage

We blessed all our host families with a great Chilean meal

Chile Missions 2010 Update 3

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Various, Visits

It is hard to believe we have only been in Chile for 5.5 days because so much has happened. I am constantly amazed at God’s grace over our church and our missions program over the years. God has always protected us and He has always provided for us in huge ways. For some reason, God is constantly opening doors for us as we step out in faith. After awhile, it is very obvious that God honors people who honor Him by exhibiting great faith in a Great God.

There are several things that have happened so far that clearly indicts the hand of God’s favor upon this trip:

1) We found favor with the mayor and his office in the city of Constitucion. When we arrived in Constitucion after an overnight bus drive from Santiago, a few of us went into the mayor’s office to ask for permission to use the plaza for a presentation. I think it helped to mentioned that a bunch of people from the United States all the here to present things to the people. Not only did the mayor give us permission, but he gave us access to the city’s official events planner named Luis. After talking with Luis, we found out that he was a fellow Christ-follower. This is just like God to position a person of influence to open doors for us. Luis was so thrilled that we came all the way from Santiago to share the love of Christ. He ended up opening the doors for us to go to all the news media outlets in Constitucion to announce the 2-day event. After a few phone calls, we had a T.V. Interview, as well as a press conference with all the newspapers and radio stations. It was humbling to see when God opens doors, He really opens doors in a big way. This gave us access to the whole plaza with the electricity to do the presentations and to freely share God’s love. Only an Awesome God can set up something like this.

2) The hearts of the church members in Pueblo de Dios were unified with the hearts of our team members. We are all staying in different church members’ homes. I think it is pretty remarkable that they would all open up their homes to us and share their lives. Some of the team members were noticing that some families did not have all the provisional blessings that we do in the States, but to see their open hearts and their generosity have really humbled us. No language or culture barriers can separate people who speak the language of Christ’s love. Not only have we experienced Christ’s love through the host families, but we have experienced it powerfully through the members who went on this trip to Constitucion. They had so much more to offer than what we could ever give to them. Their servant like attitudes and their passion for people have really left us speechless. Gone are the days where us, “Americans” come to another country to show the nationals how to do missions. They are literally teaching us. This is why it is so good to be here with the members and serving side by side.

3) We have been bonding together as a team. I remember the first time I saw the list for the missions team. My first thought was, “How in the world will a group of people who are so different be able to come together to serve?” But God has quickly answered this question by reminding me the power of prayer and purpose. From the missions luncheon to our ministry here in Chile, God has brought our hearts together because of the greater purpose of building God’s Kingdom. Our time together in prayer has also helped us to be spiritually connected. I firmly believe that our experiences together will have lasting impact for the future.

We spent the New Year’s Eve enjoying each others company with a great Chilean meal, then we spent ushering in the new year with prayer. It has been good spending a few days together as a team and getting recharged for the weekend ministry. We are looking forward to ministering in the church on Sunday. Then the days following, we will be ministering in various places within Santiago.

We want to finish off strong with the time that we have left. Please continue to pray for us. Thanks for the partnership in the Gospel.

Getting ready for our outreach in Constitucion

Morning devotions before going out to minister

Pastor Sergio being interviewed with a news outlet in Constitucion

Ministering to the kids of Constitucion through various activities

The kids enjoying a time of songs and some hip Chilean moves

I don’t know how well the Chileans took to an Asian clown but it was for His glory :-)

People responding to the Gospel presentation at the Plaza in center city of Constitucion

The team doing some presentations at the Plaza outreach

Powerful time of praying for one another. Transculturalism in action.

The team took some time to share with one another at a park