The Father’s Heart for Orphans

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Victories, Viewpoint

 
Children Embrace2
 
 
My wife, Christina, keeps reminding me, “As we get older, we should be more unselfish, more humble and more loving.” In theory, this makes a lot of sense. But in reality, it is a whole different issue altogether.

As we get older, we should realize more of our sinfulness. As we get older, we should become more humble and loving. The older we get, the more we should have testimonies that point to the experience of God’s love and grace. Then what seems to be the problem? For me, it can be summed it up in three simple words: I. Am. Forgetful.

I forget that I was once spiritually lost and dead in my sin (Eph 2:1-3).
I forget that I was chosen and predestined for God’s purpose (Eph 1:4-5; Ro 8:29-30).
I forget how God redeemed and rescued me through the blood of Jesus (Eph 1:7).
I forget how God’s grace was richly and abundantly poured out on me (Eph 2:4-7).
I forget how God adopted me into His family because of His love (Eph 1:5; Ro 8:5).
I forget all the spiritual blessings that I now have in Christ (Eph 1:3).

Forgetfulness. So many of us know this all too well.

This is the reason why I reacted in annoyance and frustration when Christina mentioned that God might be calling us to foster a 4-month old orphaned baby, who has a physical disability. Instead of remembering who God is and His Father’s heart for the orphans and the lost, all I could think about at that moment was – me. I forgot about all that God did in my life. The only thing that took center stage was my selfishness.

For the next 30 minutes I was in a back-and-forth discussion with Christina. I tried to help her to see all the reasons why this might not be a good idea. But the more I talked, the more forgetful I became of God’s love and grace. I was so consumed with myself that the only thing that kept coming to mind was the inconvenience and the discomfort of going through sleepless nights and endless diaper changes. Everything inside of me cried out, “What about me? Didn’t I pay my dues with our three kids? Why do we have to go through it again?”

It was in that moment that God had to remind me of His Father’s heart towards me.

I remembered how spiritually dead and hopeless I was.
I remembered how I was separted from God because of my sin.
I remembered how God reached out to me, rescued me and redeemed me.
I remembered how God loved me and adopted me into His family.
I remembered how God graciously and lavishly poured out so many blessings.

I knew what God was trying to say to me. I had a choice – to obey God or to obey my flesh. I’m thankful that through Christina, God reminded me of His Father’s heart. With the short amount of time we will have with her, I think it is going to transform our family for good. We are thankful that today, our family will have the privilege of welcoming a little 4-month old girl from China into our home.

For some reason, things feel different already, as God has been preparing our hearts to receive her into our home; but most of all, welcome her into our hearts. We would greatly appreciate your prayers and we can’t wait to introduce her to all of you.

In the last 2 weeks, I have been reminded of the song, “Good, Good Father.” The lyrics are:

Oh, I’ve heard a thousand stories of what they think you’re like
But I’ve heard the tender whisper of love in the dead of night
And you tell me that you’re pleased and that I’m never alone

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Oh, and I’ve seen many searching for answers far and wide
But I know we’re all searching
For answers only you provide
Cause you know just what we need
Before we say a word

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

Cause you are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways
You are perfect in all of your ways to us [2x]

Oh, it’s love so undeniable
I, I can hardly speak
Peace so unexplainable
I, I can hardly think

As you call me deeper still [x3]
Into love, love, love

You’re a Good, Good Father
It’s who you are, it’s who you are, it’s who you are
And I’m loved by you
It’s who I am, it’s who I am, it’s who I am

 
 

Gloriously Ruined

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Victories, Viewpoint

 
I do quite a bit of counseling throughout the week. I guess it comes with the calling of a shepherd (pastor). After many hours of listening and talking, I have come to the realization that a lot of things come down to perspective. If a person is able to gain God’s perspective in the midst of their situation, then it’s a huge win – both for the counselee and the counselor.

It is hard to see God in some of the difficult situations of our lives. Unless we believe in a Sovereign God, who is in complete control and working out all things for our good and His glory (Ro 8), it is easy to become disillusioned and even bitter at God. It is humbling when we get a glimpse of our theology (what we believe about God) by the way we respond to things that we have no control over.

I am constantly encouraged to see Christ-followers who struggle to understand God’s purposes, but at the end of the day, they realize that they are not God. This is when we all have a choice to either trust God or to trust in ourselves. As we get older, we begin to learn that choosing the former is far greater. Why? Because God has proven Himself to be faithful time and time again to make something beautiful of our lives, regardless of how messy it is.

What appears to be a life of ruin, God has the audacity and the capacity to turn things around to something that is “gloriously ruined” for our good and His glory.
 
 

Winter Baptism 2013

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Victories, Viewpoint

 

 
 
 
We made history at our 2013 Winter Baptism. It was our first time having the baptism at our Transformation Center. Secondly, we had the most people being baptized at one time in the history of our church.

I am constantly amazed at God’s transformative work of calling us His own and by bringing us from darkness to His marvelous light (1 Pe 2:9). I have the privilege of being an eyewitness of His power week after week. Then it all culminates at our baptism service.

This is the reason why I do what I do. It is my passion.

I can’t wait for our Easter Baptism in 2014.

Reminders from Asia Trip 2013

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Victories, Viewpoint, Visits

 

Photo by Duncan P. Walker
 
 
 
Whenever I spend time in Asia, God reminds me of things that He is doing around the world. This past summer God reaffirmed a lot of things we are doing as a church in trying to reach the nations with the Gospel.

The reminders that God reiterated to me are:

1) ONENESS. There is power in unity. It was huge blessing to see all our HMCC churches partner together to serve Jesus and spread the Gospel in Indonesia and Singapore. Even though we were from different HMCC churches, we had the same DNA; therefore it was beautiful to see everyone flow together in doing ministry. No wonder King David said, “How good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity! For there the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore” (Ps 133:1, 3, ESV). I am thankful for the blessings that we have received because of our oneness of heart and mission.

2) OPPORTUNITIES. God is opening up many doors for us. In Indonesia, we had the opportunity to influence a whole denomination in Papua. The denomination has invited us to help teach and train their leaders, and especially their youth, so that there will be transformation in the area. It is our hope that the next generation can be reached with the Gospel. God is also opening up opportunities for us in Hong Kong. The need for the Gospel to penetrate into this global city is tremendous. In particular, there are many Chinese students from mainland China who are studying at the nine universities in Hong Kong. Some recent statistics show that about 20% of undergraduates and 80% of graduate students are from China. This is a huge harvest field. If we reach Hong Kong, we will be able to reach China and beyond.

3) OPENNESS. Everywhere we went the hearts of people were open. As we served and loved people, God used us to build bridges. We were surprised to see so many people opening their hearts up to us. It was as if God was preparing the people so that we can minister to them. I was also blown away by the number of people that I had conversations with in Indonesia and Hong Kong. They were so hungry for the Gospel message. A religious spirit always puts people in bondage, but a Gospel-centered message will set people free. God is opening the heart of people to experience genuine freedom that can only come from the Spirit of God (2 Co 3:17). People are famished for community; and they want a greater purpose in life. This is where a strong biblical community, which displays and demonstrates God’s love will be able to make a difference.

4) OBEDIENCE. If we are serious about reaching the nations, then we will need people who will obey God’s call. Too often, people have excused themselves from living out the radical message of the Gospel. But Jesus said, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it” (Mk 8:34-35, ESV). For some reason, as I am meeting various people, it seems like people who have resolved to surrender their lives for Jesus and the Gospel, are the ones who are experiencing incredible things. God is building powerful testimonies in their lives about what He can do with people who are fully surrendered and obedient to His call. If we are going to fulfill the Great Commission in our generation, then we need people who will obey God’s commands.

2013 !gnite Recap

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Victories, Vision

 
Humbled. Amazed. Energized.
 
Transforming lives, transforming the world!
Campuses. Cities. Countries. Continents.
 
 

TEAM Community Team #18

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Victories, Viewpoint

 

Photo by gbtan.org
 
 
 
This weekend we are having our leadership team summit for the 18th time in our church’s history. It is hard to believe that HMCC in Ann Arbor is finishing off its 17th year of ministry. There are lots of memories. Lots of ups and downs. But at the end of the day, there is nothing but joy and thankfulness for all that God has accomplished.

Sometimes when we do the same routine for a long period of time, it is easy to forget about God’s faithfulness. We quickly forget the history of how things got started. As I pause and reflect on the last 17 years, I am grateful that God brought us through different seasons. Many people have come and gone; and we have raised up many generations of people who are now making an impact around the world.

This weekend we are starting our 18th leadership team. With the new generation of people on our leadership team, it is important that tap into the 17 years of history and tradition. I was inspired by the Michigan Football Tradition. I always found it fascinating that they name their football team according to a number. This year’s 2013 team will be Team 134. The reason behind this is because of the 134 years of Michigan Football. The 2014 team will be Team 135.

Starting this year, we are going to use the University of Michigan football team number reference to identify our leadership team. Therefore, this year’s leadership team will be known as TEAM Community Team 18.

The reasons for this are:

1) To bring a sense of history. Due to our context on a college campus, there is a lot of turnover. In our church change is constant because people are always in transition. Therefore, new leaders are not familiar with the HMCC history or tradition. Also, it is easy for some of the older leaders to forgot how everything got started. This is why we have to keep on telling the His-stories.

2) To bring a sense of unity. Championships are won by teamwork and not by a single person. When everyone is unified and does their part, great things can be accomplished. We cannot put the focus on just one person. The only person who deserves the spotlight is Jesus. We need to make it more about Jesus than anything else. Therefore, if the leaders think and act as team, we will do great things.

3) To bring a sense of sodality. Webster’s Dictionary defines, “sodality” as, “an organized society or fellowship.” We all need to know that we are part of something bigger than ourselves. It is important that people realize that things don’t revolve around them, but rather on a bigger vision and mission. When people in a community share the same values to achieve a goal, they experience oneness of heart. When championships are won, even the trainers get a ring because they are part of that group.

I am looking forward to partnering up with Team 18. It is going to be a great year!
Let’s win some championships!

Persona Series

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Victories, Viewpoint

 

Photo by HMCC-AA Publications Team
 
 
 
We started a new series called, “Persona” this past Friday at Access, our gathering for college students. The dictionary defines, “persona” as, “a person’s perceived or evident personality, as that of a well-known official, actor, or celebrity,” “personal image or public role”. We all know how our public image does not always match up with our personal/private image. This is why we all struggle with issues of hypocrisy, authenticity and honesty.

As we started the night, it was exciting for two reasons: 1) The gathering place was packed and filled with students who were hungry for God; 2) Diana, one of our staff members, under HMCC’s pastoral covering, shared God’s Word.

I can’t wait until we can get the message online so that people can listen to it. Even though this was her first time, God used Diana powerfully as she shared God’s heart about authenticity and honesty. She set the example of being brutally honesty and vulnerable by sharing from her own personal life. I am praying that God will raise up more college students with character of honesty and authenticity.

As I have said many times before, “Our CHARACTER is the CONTAINER that CARRIES our CONVICTIONS.” If our convictions and dreams are big, then we need a bigger container. So let’s get busy building up our character for Christ.

Asia Trip 2013 Recap

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Victories, Viewpoint, Visits

 
Christina and I just wanted to say thanks to all of you in Asia. We experienced tremendous love from you guys in the way you served us and honored us. It was a great privilege reconnecting with all our old friends and also, making new friends along the way. I told Christina that we should try to share a few words via video as a way of appreciating all of you.

We are grateful for all the blessings that God poured out on us at the HMCC of Singapore retreat and the HMCC of Jakarta retreat. You guys inspired us! Let’s continue to run the race with perseverance as we fix our eyes on Jesus.

It is and it will always be all about Jesus!
 
 
 

Joining the Movement

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Victories, Viewpoint, Vision

 

Graphics by Katie Chang
 
 
 
My journey started back in 2005 when I went to India. It was the first time where the realities of the sex slavery industry were brought to my attention. After hearing the stories of so many women and children who were enslaved, it broke my heart. Some of the girls were as young as 12 years old and they belonged to brothels in the heart of Mumbai’s redlight district.

The clincher for me was when I was asked to pray for a lady who was dying of AIDS-HIV. I still remember very vividly the room where the lady was lying on her bed in her frail condition. It was hard to pray knowing that this woman was given a few more weeks to live. I had to ask God for greater faith.

I ended up going back to India in 2006 and God kept on putting this issue of human slavery in my heart.

After I came back from India, life got busy and the convictions that God placed on my heart were put on the backburner.

However, God would not let me forget or let me off the hook. More recently, God used the film Nefarious to speak to Christina and me. At the end of the movie, we felt compelled to pray. We asked God to give us (our family and our church) His marching orders.

Since then, lots have happened.

We gathered a handful of people and started a launch team for the Liberty Mission movement. We highlighted the human slavery issue on December 2nd by dedicating a whole Sunday Celebration to bring greater awareness to our church. It was also the International Day for the Abolition of Slavery; therefore it was exciting to know that we were united with other organizations to bring attention to this issue.

In January 2013, we are going to have a call out meeting for everyone in our church who is passionate about getting involved. We will be forming various teams to get things rolling and put things into action. There are also a few immersion and learning trips in the works so that we can give people first-hand exposure to what is going on around the world.

This issue is massive and there is no one person or one church/organization that can tackle this alone. This is why we are going to just be faithful to our small part in the greater movement of God, while at the same time link up with other groups that are united in the common vision. Please join us in making a dent in Satan’s territory.

You can get more information at: libertymission.org

Sex Slavery Highlight

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Victories, Vision, Visuals

 
I am always encouraged when people in all our HMCC churches are making a difference for Christ around the world, especially when they use their passions and gifts to communicate some aspects of the message of Christ.

God has been putting our church in a journey to address the issue of human slavery. We have to remember that a movement always starts small, but then it picks up momentum when lots of people get involved with the same vision and cause.

One of our students in HMCC of Chicago, where Pastor Jimmy Roh is the lead pastor, did a documentary on the sex slavery issue in Chicago. The problem with sex slavery is not just in Asia, but it is right here in the United States, particularly in the larger cities.

She did a great job of highlighting the issue in her documentary (which by the way has been nominated for College Emmy’s Awards). We need more abolitionists to rise up from our churches and to join the greater movement around the world. God is definitely up to something.

Check it out the video.
 
 
 

2012 Easter Sunday Reflections

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Victories, Viewpoint

 

Photo by Maila Kue
 
 
 
Even though it is the day after the Easter Celebration, I am still glowing from the blessings that God poured out to our church. We hit a lot of key markers at this Easter. We have seen the highest number of people attending an Easter Celebration in our 15 year history. We have seen the largest number of newcomers in any church gathering we have had in the history of our church. We have seen the largest number of people receiving Christ in one gathering. We have seen more members in our church come together serve for a gathering. And the list goes on.

It is pretty humbling. All we can do is give God all the glory.

The most exciting part for me is to hear about all the first time commitments that people made to follow Jesus Christ. Even talking and praying with people after the Easter Celebration, I sensed that God was moving and speaking to the hearts of people.

As another Easter is recorded in HMCC’s annals, I realized that this Easter was a special one for us. It is not just because of the key markers that we hit, but rather some of the key lessons that God was trying to teach us (again).

Here are some lessons that God reminded me of throughout our whole preparation:

1) TIMING – God’s timing is impeccable. I still remember back in 2011, we found out that all the larger venues on the University of Michigan campus were booked. We were trying so hard to figure out how we were going to fit everyone in our church facility, especially with all the friends and family members that people were going to invite. It wasn’t until February 2012 that someone from the UM facility reservation office contacted us regarding a venue that opened up. But the incredible thing about all this was that God quickly opened up not only one venue but rather two – we had options! It is in these times when I am reminded that God is always in control. He is never too late or too early, but rather He answers prayers just in time.

2) TRUST – Once the venues opened up, we realized that we did not budget the rental of the Easter facility for the 2012 budget. This was not a good situation because the rental of the facility would cost some money which we did not have. As the Board of Directors and I prayed, we concluded that it was God’s will for us to have our Easter Celebration at the iconic Michigan Theater and that we needed to trust in God. Therefore as we moved forward with this decision, the people of God stepped up and gave generously. It is humbling to know that when God gives us a vision, He will always provide the provisions because He is always “for” (pro-) His vision to come to reality. God always honors those who honor Him in obedience no matter what the cost.

3) TEAMWORK – Every time I think about the commitment level of our church members, I am just humbled and grateful. Months before the Easter Celebration, many people invested their time and energy in getting things ready. Then on the morning of Easter, many of them got up early in the morning (4:30AM!!) and some even stayed up all night to get everything prepared. It was great to see every ministry team in our church working together to make Easter Celebration all about Jesus. The more I think about it, the more I realize how I just play a little part in the overall worship experience. While the preaching of the Word is important, there are so many other things that go into an Easter Celebration. I am thankful that I am part of an incredible team. When all different types of people from all different lifestages can come together to serve God, it is one of the most powerful testimonies to God’s love and grace.

4) TRUTH – Too often people are afraid to invite their friends to church because they think that their friend might feel uncomfortable, especially during the preaching or even the worship time. But we have to be convinced that unless the truth of the Gospel is preached and the power of God is experienced, people will not come to place in their lives to trust in Jesus Christ. This is why both, truth and grace are needed. It is always tempting for the preacher to “water-down” the truth because there are a lot of new people or even pre-Christians in the audience. But as we unapologetically preach the truth in love, then we know God will take care of the rest. Ultimately, it is the Truth of God’s Word and promises that will set a person free (Jn 8:32). This is why it was encouraging to see many people respond for the first time to receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior.

I am still amazed that God allows me to be a part of all this. The journey keeps on getting better and better with each passing year. Even now, I’m looking ahead to next year’s Easter!

Austin Update – 10.2011

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Victories, Visits

 
In the last 3 years, I have been to Austin many times. It is always a joy to come down to Texas to 80 degree weather when it is in the 40’s in Ann Arbor. But more than the weather, it is a privilege to come to Austin and spend some time with Pastor Ben and his family, as well as with the HMCC of Austin family.

This was a special retreat and as I have mentioned to the HMCC-AUS family, “This was a mile-marker experience in our spiritual journey with Christ.” It is always humbling to know that God loves His people and His Church more than we can ever love it with our finite love. This is why I am constantly reminded of the importance of looking to Him to build up His Church (Mt 16:18).

There was definitely a new vibe in HMCC-AUS. They got some awesome freshmen who are excited for the things of God. They also raised up new leaders and servants who really demonstrated God’s heart, as they served at this retreat. They even expanded in their worship team.

God is moving down in Austin. One thing that really blessed me was that the church came together to fast and pray for 21 days. As soon as we started to worship and as soon as I opened my mouth to preach, God was already moving. Everything flowed so easily, which was a good reminder that preparation really does make a difference (Ex 19:10-19).

I am just thankful and humbled that I got the privilege of witnessing God’s power with front row seats!
 
 

Reflecting Back on 15 Years

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Various, Victories

 
We had a wonderful time at the 15th Anniversary Celebration. It was beautiful to see how God has faithfully led us, as a church for the past 15 years. God was not only faithful, but He has been writing an incredible story of transformation. There have been so many people who came to Christ for the first time in our church. There have been numerous people who have experienced true freedom through the power of the Gospel. There have been people who were trained as Kingdom workers, who are now in various parts of the world making a difference for Jesus Christ.

All I can say is that we serve a mighty God and it is all about Him.

When I saw the 15th year video, I couldn’t help but to get misty-eyed as flood of memories went through my mind. It is hard to believe that God has given us the privilege of serving Him here in HMCC-AA for all these years.

Through it all, it has always been about Christ. It is His fame that we want to continue to proclaim to the nations. It is His story that God is writing and we are just the minor characters in this epic journey. The best is yet to come!

“Not to us, O LORD, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness” (Ps 115:1).

 
 
This is a recap of some of the great things God has done in the last 15 years, in and through our church.
 
 

Celebrating 15 Years of God’s Faithfulness

Author: sethskim  |  Category: Values, Victories, Viewpoint

 

Photo by HMCC-AA Publication Team
 
 
 
It is hard to believe that 15 years ago Christina and I moved from Chicago to Ann Arbor, Michigan to start a church on the University of Michigan campus. In 1996, we just got married and stepped out in faith to live out the dream of being a 1st century church in the 21st century. We had a passion to see lost people experience transformation through the Gospel message, to see people discipled and then to see people trained to transform the world. It was an audacious dream, but we knew God was calling us to this endeavor. With God, all things are possible!

Now, after 15 years, we have seen many people come to know Christ for the 1st time in HMCC. We have seen many people experience freedom through God’s grace. We have seen many people who are now placed in different parts of the world doing some incredible things for God’s Kingdom.

It is humbling to think that God has given us the privilege of experiencing His transformative power for the last 15 years; and for some reason, it feels as if the best is still yet to come. We are amazed and overcome with gratitude as we see the faithfulness of God.

This is why our 15th Anniversary Celebration is going to be filled with testimonies of God’s work of transformation. It is going to be all about Him and His glory. We are going to also celebrate the huge wins that God has provided for us more recently in the last 5 years.

God’s Word is always true: “I tell you the truth, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. The man who loves his life will lose it, while the man who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me; and where I am, my servant also will be. My Father will honor the one who serves me” (Jn 12:24-26).

In God’s economy, nothing is ever lost or wasted. Every investment for God will bear fruit as we seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness.

It is going to be a packed house. Remember to come early and grab a good seat.