My Experience With Spiritual Abuse & Dysfunction in a Korean-American Church Youth Group & English Ministry

“Spiritual Abuse” Definition

“When the person uses the scriptures, when a person uses their position of authority to really indulge their own need to feel superior, or to be in control, or to manipulate, or to make things happen that they think should happen, when they’re really serving their own agenda and calling it God’s agenda . . . whether they’re self deceived, then I believe we’re talking about spiritual abuse and that’s not a good thing.”

SOURCE: http://cdn.rbc.org/hfml/H264/350KB_VATR003I015.mp4

I agree the term “spiritual abuse” seems to be more akin to “sexual” and Catholic priest molestations (or extreme cult-like settings). For purposes of my narrative, when positions of authority or Scripture is used outside of a context of a selfless relationship, it’s essentially a form of misuse. I don’t want to minimize sexually abused individuals that occurred in spiritual environments, but I also don’t want to minimize that control from those in authoritative positions using Scriptures as their basis is a form of abuse and emotionally damaging.

If it helps, you can substitute “Spiritual Abuse” with “Emotional Abuse” in your mind.

Effects of Spiritual Abuse

The effects of Spiritual Abuse is the same effect any victim would sense from an abuser in a position that should be loving (ie. spouse, parent, etc.). Spiritual Abuse undermines the core message of the self-sacrificing Gospel and Jesus’ example. It perverts the New Testament to become a “me first” or a “mission first” dogma, rather than a Cross-centered, spirit-filled, loving transformation.

Spiritual Abuse can be extra damaging on the emotional front because it is assumed that those in Spiritual Authority are supposed to best represent the love of Christ. So when the Spiritual Abuse takes place, the victim’s sense of betrayal and hurt is even greater. After all, if the victim can’t even trust those who are supposed to be closest to Christ, than how can they trust anyone?

Another damaging factor of Spiritual Abuse is that those in Spiritual Authority get an instant bump in emotional trust. The victim will reveal and be more emotionally vulnerable based solely on the trust of the official title. The victim will also provide extra access to those of Authority they would normally not provide to a stranger that needs to earn their trust first.

Should the Spiritual Abuser attempt to do the same actions in a context where the Spiritual Abuser does not have the Spiritual Authority (like a stranger), then the damage would not be so damaging. This could perhaps be similar to the increased emotional damage one experiences from a mother, rather than a police officer. They could both do the exact same things, but because it’s assumed that a mother should be loving, the damage is even greater when the expectations are broken. Whereas, when a police officer acts like a jerk, no expectations are really broken.

Spiritual Abuse is also emotionally damaging because the Spiritual Abuser will communicate their abuse as intended to be “loving” or they will frame their actions as supported by Scripture, thus forcing you to question the feelings of fear, rejection, anger, and abandonment inside. It may force to you reconsider what “love” actually is, and question the intentions of God since the one in Spiritual Authority is supposed to be representing Christ most closely.

My Early Childhood

My parents immigrated from South Korea in the 1970’s. Both came from emotionally broken families and were themselves emotionally dysfunctional raised in a post-Korean War environment. At age 11, my mother abandoned me and the rest of my family, leaving my father to raise myself, and two siblings alone. Due to limited education, language, life experience in the United States, and time constraints of running an Auto Body Shop, along with being a single parent, I was left to figure out life on my own.

No therapy was provided or suggested to me with the abandonment and is rejected by the Korean community. My level of emotional dysfunction was defined with suppression of emotional feelings in lieu of material success in school and activities. Natural emotional development from parents and examples of emotionally healthy relationships were non-existent. Unfortunately, I attended Korean-American church youth groups which are essentially filled with Korean-American kids of emotionally dysfunctional Korean immigrants, and led by an undertrained, underpayed, overworked Youth Pastor that may or may not be aware of their own emotional dysfunctions. Throw in the oppressive use of Scripture with emotionally dysfunctional Korean father, and you can understand that I had a very perverted sense of the Gospel.

Korean immigrant churches tend to have a weird Confucius / Christian, legalistic religion. Due to the emotional dysfunction of most of its members who typically show up to be in a Korean-speaking environment rather than a love for Jesus Christ, Korean immigrant churches tend to be “works” based rather than be centered on an unconditional, Christ love.

Background of Situation

Due to my musical talent as demonstrated in high school and confidence in organizing, I had volunteered at my Youth Group to help lead various activities. I enjoyed singing songs, and playing the piano / guitar. There weren’t really that many choices for the new English Ministry Pastor (who also double dutied as the Youth Pastor), so I became a “worship leader” for a second service he was trying to create beginning of my Sophomore year in college (at age 19). It wasn’t due to the maturity of how I practiced the tenants of the Gospel, but it was because I was pretty much the best one with talent and willingness to put material effort to “get the job done.”

Part of my strategy was to attempt to recreate the environments of popular evangelical music gatherings, such as Passion and Hillsongs United. Anything that didn’t fit that vision, I worked toward attempting to change or jettison through means that I understood at the time (which consisted of coercion, control, and other impatient, self-serving methods as demonstrated by my parents). I believed that it was through music that one communed closer to God and obtained an emotionally experiential encounter, so to have a non-emotionally intense experience in “worship” meant that somehow the leader had failed. I gained this understanding due to failing to form a single love-filled relationship, and finding the most emotionally satisfying and intense experiences in a charismatic worship service.

The individual that is called “Lead Pastor” is the lead pastor of the church and he leads the main, Korean-speaking service where all the parents attend. I believe the governance structure is with it being Elder led. So the Elders can actually vote out the lead pastor. I believe the Elders are elected since it was a Presbyterian church. I didn’t understand this structure at the time.

One specific individual that I felt was inadequate to match the Hillsongs United vision was the existing youth group worship leader (which I’ll call, “Bobby Lee” for no other reason except that I love the real comedian’s dark humor) which the English Ministry Pastor had given me authority over initially. During this time, I maintained a journal that contains the progression of my spiritually abusive thoughts and activities that I’ll be sharing (confessing).

Disclaimer

I have changed the names of the parties involved or removed them entirely as marked. For simplicity, I will call the English Ministry Pastor / Youth Pastor as (EMP). I feel embarrassed for my past thought processes and hope you understand how easily Spiritual Abuse can spring up when “God” is brought into the picture. I hope you cringe (and feel some sympathy), for the thoughts of a 19 year old, emotionally dysfunctional, college student doing what he thought was the right thing to do in a entirely perverse, fucked up situation.

Also, some of the dissonant energy came from the fact that my convictions at the time included the belief that masturbation was a sin, so I would typically only partake once every week or every other week. So you’ll understand some of the pent up sexual frustration. I also didn’t drink, do any drugs, or party at the Frat I lived in.

[I put some comments in italics with brackets.] But, I try to maintain a minimum amount to let my original mind at the time speak for itself. You will also notice misspellings since I’ve kept it in its raw form as much as possible.

September 15, 2002

I have a problem of staying up trying to get to bed because of all the worries that go through my mind. After reading an article while I was food poisoned yesterday, I figured I’d follow the advice and write on my thoughts. I’m not going to be sleeping anytime soon, anyway, and at least this way I know my thoughts are getting somewhere.

So pretty much I’m dealing with the issue of Bobby Lee and his performance as a Praise Band Leader. Prior to this, I pretty much had no official power or authority to say anything because I didn’t have a position name, but now I do, as the “Praise Committee Chair.” With this authority, I plan on doing something about this.

I see a pattern in Bobby. When his life gets going tougher at school, he starts losing focus on church. Well, the school year has only been through one week, and he’s already showing signs of deteriation.

The thing I’m most concerned about is his attitude. If you are a Band leader, how can you forget to make a song order? Or how can you forget about the responsibility of setting up equipment the night before a gig? Or how bout going even further, and not taking the responsibility to do “Experiencing God”* every day? Not more than 15 minutes a day? Is that too much to ask for? Like you’re doing any other God seeking per day?

[* Experiencing God: Knowing and Doing the Will of God, by Henry Blackaby]

So my plan is to go to Bobby and ask him what his performance level is, and ask him how I can help. If there’s nothing I can help him with, then I’ll ask him what he can change in his life to help him perform better as a praise team leader.

I won’t go as far as saying get better, or get out, because there is no one else that I can see that is willing or equipped to take up that position, except myself. I do not have a problem to take up the position, but I am already doing so much for the church that I don’t want to stop other people frolm leading praise.

Is that something enough to stop? Perhaps I need to begin training a praise leader? One to replace Bobby? Hmmmmmmmmmmmm. …

Probably not [redacted]. He’s already showing signs of irresponsibility with little things, like recording prayer requests. Praise Leader is something that is much more important. . .

Perhaps [redacted]? Nope. He may be going out of state. I need someone younger. Perhaps [redacted]? No, still shows signs of wacky priorities. Younger younger younger. . .

Oh God, open up my eyes so that I can see, and show me how I direct Bobby. God, I cannot stand aside and allow Bobby to perform as he does righ tnow. It’s not excusable. Any less would be . . . . erjla;kjsdfls;ajlxzcv. I am frustrated to think how it will be in the coming nmonths. I twill only get worse.

God be my guidance. May I be sensitive to your holy spirit to direct my path in all I do. Lord, may I trust in you to provide a way t.

And most impolrtantly, I pray that I might be sensitive and know when you pick the person.

Lord Jesus, only you.

I’m thinking [redacted]? We’ll see. . . We’ll see.. . . how he pans out through Experiencing God.

Oh God, that you may bring out workesrs to work in your harvest field. . . workers for your harvest field, and not my harvest field. Jesus. Come.Into your hands I place the call for new workers. Unto you I place my hope.

September 16, 2002

By what authority do I have to tell Bobby to leave? I have been given authority by Jesus Christ, the true head of the church. He has opened my eyes to the weaknesses in the church and has called me to fix them.

Do I need any more authority than that? Do I need man’s authority to do these works in which I do? Well if I do, let me begin boasting by the authority in which God has also granted with me.

Within the main praise team, though I am not actually playing in it, I have invested my life into seeing the team grow spiritually through Experiencing God, prayer, and creating more personal bonds. I have authority as someone who has invested.

Within the church, I am the Praise Committee chair. It is my duty to oversee that the music arena is going well. It is not going well, so I’m doing my duty. I have authority as someone who has a man-made position.

Within the entire church, I have invested as praise leader on Saturdays, and in working the sound equipment, cleaning up, making sure there are people there to clean up after the Saturday team, in obtaining equipment, in purchasing transparencies, in setting up a website, in teaching a Bible Study, in cleaning up the room, in praying for the congregation, in praying for EMP, in giving a sermon, in being a counselor, in being a spear head for change in pastors, in being a spear head for change in the stagnant structure of the church, in the support for EMP visibly and privately when no one else was there to support him, in overseeing the committee meetings, in making sure that things get done, in being friendly to those no one wants to be friendly too, in initiating the picture board, in recording EMP’s sermons, and in the countless hours I have spent praying and planning for the church. I have gained authority as someone who has invested his LIFE.

But I consider all of it a loss. I consider it all worthless, when compared to the work that Christ has done for the church and what He will do in the future. What I have done is nothing. What I have done will not survive the test of time. But what I do have, is the authority from Christ, to see His kingdom come here on Earth as it is in Heaven, and to see that His will is done.

September 19, 2002

That you may begin reflecting on your performance at the church. [redacted] stated something that bothered me, and what is being seen by others, but not myself. They say that the way in which I say things is what is what’s destroying the bridges. I should not use the word “cannot.” Instead, I should use the words, “cannot.” It is just because of the manner in which I say thing that puts people off.

It’s amazing to note that what I have placed onto others really is not that much in terms of quantity, but it’s the matter in which I request others to do so. I have to begin to realize that the manner in which I say things will determine their attitudes.

I have to learn that if I say it in the right and loving manner, that people will do almost anything. However, if I say it in an intense manner, then people will not respond positively.

It’s all about how I say things. It’s all about the manner in which I talk. It’s all about watching what I say and to whom. It’s all about saying as little as possible to get what needs to be done in a positive manner.

I don’t ask for much, but what the little I ask for, because the manner in which I ask for is too forceful, it become too much to do.

September 21, 2002

The morning after we had the talk with the group and I still have some unsettled feelings. I am feeling guilty of my feelings toward Bobby. I must admit that I am happy that Bobby is no longer Praise Leader, because I knew that he had some pride in the position, but I am also feeling a little uncomfortable. I am also feeling as though the method to reaching it was far from appropriate.

Yes, Bobby realizes and has released his hold, but was it necessary that the events leading up to it had to go in that fashion? Was my sheer obsession with seeing Bobby leave a sin? Before, it was so sure that Bobby would have to leave the position of Praise Leader, but was that what the Holy Spirit leading me?

Pretty much, Bobby is gone, but the method in which we got to that was not in a loving manner. I sinned in the way that it went through so hard lined.

But, am I to be blamed? Bobby was already burnt out, and he was holding on because of some non-good reasons, but he wasn’t specific to those reasons.

How I long for God to ease my heart, but I need to relay to Bobby that my feelings are racked with guilt. Guilt that this method did not go in a more loving fashion.

I believed that it was my duty, as Christ’s servant, to make sure that someone in a leadership position, as a Praise Leader, is doing his/her job. If he/she is doing way below the minimums, and unwilling to continue, then he/she should drop the position on their own choice. This happens in a perfect world. Unfortunately, we live in an imperfect world, and Bobby continued to hold on for some reason. I suspected this reason to be pride and selfishness.

This is an issue that I need to discuss with Bobby and with the group, sometime soon.

September 22, 2002

Well, it’s pretty much that my hatred toward Bobby for what he has done as a praise leaders needs to disappear. It’s eating me up inside and the very fact that it keeps me up at night, is something else.

I heard Bobby verbally confess that he no longer wants to be Praise Leader, but I don’t know if that’s a repentance or what after his further actions. Regardless of whether it’s repentance or not, it shouldn’t be something that eats me up. I am not that important and neither is Bobby. I need to forgive and forget what he did as a Praise Leader. What’s in the past is in the past, and I have nothing to gain to try and hold onto that past. I need to look to see that the situation now is so dire that keeping petty squabbling is lame.

Bobby still has some hate toward me, and I understand and expect it, but whether or not that effects how much I love him, is a different story. I need to start working on loving Bobby, and truly praying for his recovery and for his spiritual needs.

FORGIVE AND FORGET, is the only answer whether he has fully repented or not. It’s not for me to continue and latch onto the past. I need to forget what is behind and strain on what is ahead.

September 30, 2002

Visioneering: Project #1

1. Career – Life as a minister to God’s people, full time.
Finances – Finances that are provided by a God given job.
Spouse – A wife that I love as I love myself
Children –
Ministry – Loving others as I love myself
Fraternity – A house in love with Christ, and focused on His will

2. What’s bothering you?
Nothing right now. I thought it was my church, but that is dying down.

3. Zion and my fraternity in terms of prayer, feel like a moral imperative.

4. There are some questions from [redacted] about God in my fraternity, and some new people have been coming to the church. Also, the issues are being worked through which will make the church stronger.

October 24, 2002

I was just in prayer and God revealed something to me about my stagnant relationship with Him. It’s no longer just about between me and God, but in order for me to affectively evangelize, I have to actually live what I preach. The world has to see that I live a life passionately in love for Him in order that they might be saved.

It’s no longer about me and God, but it’s about me and the rest of the world and God. I need to be passionately in love with God so that the world may know of His love. My name has already been set in the book of Life. I don’t have any fear of going into Heaven, and it doesn’t matter whether I feel the love of God anymore, but for the sake of the people in the world, I need to have passion and vision.

In terms of the Youth, I need to make sure that I pray beforehand and do what God wants me to do in worship.

Tuesday, November 5, 2002

GOD HEALS!!! I want to experience the fullness of God’s power. I want to experience all the promises of the Bible. I want the REAL THING!!! If the word says it’s true, then it will be true!

HALLELUJAH!!

Sunday night, [redacted] from my house had some major allergic/cold symptoms. I prayed for him in the name of Jesus and in the morning, IT WAS GONE!!!. HALLELUJAH!!!! God heals, and I’m excited to see how this amazing gift will be followed in more people. Time to move onto bigger things, and I pray that God will give me the boldness to pursue.

I said out of nowhere, I might as well pray for [redacted] when I saw him. I said with faith and authority, and it just worked the next morning. I’m more excited that I had the opportunity to actually experience it first hand and be a part of his works.

I just prayed for [redacted], he has throat and head problems, and I layed my hands upon him. We’ll see what God will do now! It’s in HIS HANDS NOW!!! HOLY SPIRIT WORK!

November 17, 2002

I just had about two hours of a conversation with [redacted] and [redacted] about church related issues. One of them related to my worship style. What I haven’t realized is that the way I’ve been doing it was due to my stubborn nature of not desiring of doing it other ways, or out of ignorance.

I think what I have to realize is that worship was never meant to be boring, and if the congregation gets bored, then I’m in a huge danger of making the gospel seem boring. . .

I don’t know. I guess when it comes down to, is that only I really know what the congregation should be and how it should go. So for on this point on, the way I’ve been thinking, and the way in which I’ve been convicted is to make sure worship is fun, yet at the same time share the gospel.

So what that means is that the fast songs are fun, and the slow songs focus on the love of God while I give a little talk about what the gospel really means.

I have to be open to many different ways. Though God works within environments where time goes by, having it every week does get callusing. I have to trust that the Lord will reveal to me when the times for long songs is necessary. I have to trust that I’m not placed in my position alone. God is with me every step of the way, and all I need to do is be ready and willing for Him to work with me through the songs.

Things that have confirmed that I should be making worship fun:

1) “Make a joyful noise all you people” We will be worshipping God up in Heaven for the rest of eternity, so it’d better be fun here on Earth!

2) [redacted] came to me and said that he’s stopped having so much fun singing. He therefore stopped singing. I think this goes universally with everybody, that if you’re not having “fun” or being joyful while singing, it’s not as relevant. For now, I may have to make the “fun” come externally, but eventually it’ll come internally as they become more mature

3) My conversation with [redacted] was saying that the group just stops singing these days because they’re so hard. [redacted] agrees that one way to help break through is to bring in humor.

4) Within my prayers, I already wrote in my goals on my Palm, that one of which would be: I would have the most fun ever in worship!!! SO BE IT!

With that in mind, I should train [redacted] to be on the team. He has a lot of fun, and I can train them and help them to have more fun.

One way of having fun up in Heaven is for it to be LOUD!!! And [redacted] and [redacted] have a lot of fun up there.

THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON:
Be willing to change toward what God wants you to do. He doesn’t work in only one way ANYTIME!!! He works in every way ALL THE TIME!!!

November 17, 2002

I was just trying to remember how many churches I’ve been to. Here they are:

Washington Pres Church: Preschool
Washington Church: Higher elementary and middle, after they split up
Korean Zion Presbyterian: Middle school – where I serve now
Shoreline Community: Non-denominational, Junior year – early senior
Westminster Assemblies: Assemblies of God, Junior – senior year
Jubilee Evangelical Church: Senior – Now
University Pres Church: College
City Church: Non-Denominational

3:10 AM, November 20, 2002

I’m writing when it’s really late, and I want to sleep, but oh well. During my prayers today, a thought in my mind of the verses of settling matters quickly in the church. As I thought more and more, I realized that the conflict between me and Bobby needed to be settled quickly. It was no longer the “smart” thing to do, but it’s not a moral imperitive. For me to not do it as quickly as I can, without being completely without wisdom, would be sinning against God.

So [redacted] will probably be the one moderating, just because I don’t think Bobby would feel comfortable enough with me alone, and I don’t trust my ownself in this matter. I don’t know how well I’d be in “self-control.” Heck, I don’t know really what the point of the meeting would be, except to settle things. I think the minimum thing that could be done is that we voice our opinions and why we feel as we do. In addition, we have to lay out what we feel.

So what do I feel against Bobby? After eight weeks of when we gave Bobby another chance as Praise Leader, he’s still the exact same he was. His mentality is still lagging behind and not really focused on worshipping and doing all he can do for the praise team. What I’m frustrated is that he has to know that he’s not doing all he can do, yet he still stays in the position. WHY? WHY DOES HE STAY IN?

It’s not as though there aren’t other people who are willing to fill the position! It’s not as though he’s the last one! Another thing that prompted me to do this thing is that I am also reading The Sermon on the Mount by Hughe, and it was declaring that blessed are the peacemakers. I want to be an active peacemaker, even if it hurts!

NO CHURCH PROBLEM SHOULD BE LEFT FULLY UNSETTLED FOR THIS LONG!!! Along with this, I need to talk to EMP and ask him if he’s figured out why a mess like what happened happened, and what he can do to prevent something similar to this happening again!

So back to Bobby. He’s toxic to the church in his leadership position. As long as he holds that position of praise leader, but displays an image of lukewarmness and carelessness, that becomes contagious to those who see him. For example, he talks during EMP’s sermons. Another one, he just runs through the songs during practice, instead of truly practicing. Thirdly, he runs to his dad when there’s a problem. Fourthly, if he was previously not doing well as a Praise leader because he said in a conference thingy that, “He had the wrong reasons” to be praise leader, and he’s still not changed from then, then what are his reasons for being in Praise band now?

HOLY CRAP! I don’t want to be the one to point out major faults, but this is tearing me up! I can’t sit aside and not try to make things better for the church!

As long as Bobby is in his current state, and continues to be so, without growth, then the church will not grow. The congregation will only grow as fast as the leaders do. Bobby is hindering the church and being a stumbling block to the church.

WHY DOES HE STAY IN HIS POSITION? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY? WHY?

I can only think of one answer. . . that as I think about it more and more, and it’s turning very ugly. . .

That as I close my eyes and place my self in Bobby’s shoes, I begin to realize thefull extent to which his identity revolves around being a “Praise leader.” II see a young boy, without first having his own identity, get strapped in front of people with a guitar and leads them in song. I seee him liking it at first, but because he doesn’t have anything else, even when he knows it’s wrong to continue to hold on, to hold o. Why does he hold on? Because that’s all he has left. He doesn’t have anything else to hold onto. All his friends are at the church. School isn’t going very well. Sports aren’t taken very seriously. HIS IDENTITY IS BEING A PRAISE LEADER.

Now his identity is threatened. He needs to find a new identity, but in order to do so, he must let go of his old one. He must let go, but to what? He’s afraid of the unknown, and would rather hold onto what he knows, even if it hurts everyone else around him. . .

IS THIS THE TRUTH? CAN THIS BE THE TRUTH? IS BOBBY LOCKED IN BY FEAR? IS BOBBY LOCKED IN BY THE FEAR OF HAVING NO IDENTITY?

Does Bobby not know he has an identity in Christ?

I have a midterm tomorrow, but even that doesn’t seem as important anymore. What I’m dealing with are lives. What I’m dealing with are the securities people hold onto. I was able to grasp onto Jesus, at a very young age. He was my identity. He was on whom I staked my life on. Being “praise leader” happened only after my identity was firmly set on Jesus.

Bobby was placed in “praise leader” before his identity was set on Christ. I don’t even know if he accepted Christ before being “praise leader.” I remembered what it was like, for a short period, when I lead worship without my identity firmly placed in Christ. It wasn’t healthy. Luckily, I stopped before it could become my identity.

I’m dealing with a sick man. But I’m dealing with a man who needs the love of Jesus more than anything.

So what am I to do in the conference with Bobby? I guess to listen. To really understand what the situation is with Bobby. Why he stays. What’s his true motivations.

Before that, I will let him know why I lead praise. But most importantly, I need to LOVE ON HIM as Christ loves on me.

Bobby has made an idol out of being Praise Leader. He finds his self-worth with the fact that he’s a praise leader, rather than from God giving him his worth. He hates me because I have nearly destroyed his idol.

I begin to realize what [redacted] means by, “try to understand his situation.” I understand a little more, but despite that, we can’t allow him to toxify the whole church due to his lack of identity with Christ. There is no way that I can allow it in the name of Jesus, but the method that I go about, must be in a loving way. LOVING WAY. But his extridition must be done for the good of the church, if what I’ve been guessing is true.

5:19 PM, November 20, 2002

Last session I had a profound realization on many facts regarding to the Air Force, and why I shouldn’t join it.

The reasons why I would go in the Air Force:
1) Job security
2) Travel
3) Discipline training

Those were the three reasons why I would do it. I promised to God that I would do the Air Force even if I hated it. It’s not that I don’t hate it at this point, but that God has revealed to me a greater urgency.

The only thing of those three things the Air Force would provide that God cannot provide, is none of the above. God can easily provide for my job security and traveling really isn’t something I’m all that passionate about. The discipline training is taking place right now, as I speak, with the church issues and fraternity.

I have a higher calling now. I want to be available to God 100% of the rest of my life. By being in the Air Force, I’m restricting myself from God by allowing the Air Force to pretty much own my life for four years, and possibly four more years after.

It’s not necessarily that God can’t get me out of the Air Force if he really wants to use me, but Ministry is all I want to do. Nothing else will fulfill me as ministry does, even amongst the severe pain I’m going through with the Youth right now. There’s just so much more ahead for God’s people, and I want to be a part of where he’s moving.

Also, there’s a sense of urgency that I need to begin reaping in the harvest. I can’t just sit around in the Air Force, while the people in my very church are hurting. I have to understand that I am still to be a disciple to the world and train as God has loved me.

I can’t just sit around. I have to be part of what God’s doing.

1:07 AM, November 26, 2002

Lots of things have happened, and I don’t really feel like isolating them. But pretty much, I can go either way with the Air Force thing. What I need to not go into the Air Force is for God to directly speak to me. My father right now is the determining factor of why I would go into the Air Force.

Also, with the ladies. . . man, I have an intense interest for [redacted], but I can’t do anything about it. I have a commitment to make with my congregation and with my fraternity that I have not fulfilled. I cannot take on more obligtations until I finish what God has given me right now. Right now, all I can do is nurture the growth of our friendship relationship.

I am currently figuring out a guideline system for my praise team with [redacted], [redacted], and [redacted]. I’m going to make sure that they all know what they’re obliged to, but I don’t want to make it to strict. What I want to make sure, is that they have a healthy relationship with Christ, and the rest will follow.

I also made goals for the Bible Study which I feel will be very helpful in formulating a game plan for them.

MANNN the stuff with the Praise Team is going to be tough. I’d better think this thing through for this week.

8:50 PM, December 9, 2002

Every time after Worship services, I keep coming back incredibly tired, frustrated that no one wants to worship God. It’s just wrecking me, because I keep thinking it’s something I’m doing. The truth is that I can’t change the hearts of those who really don’t want to worship. Only God can. There’s no use for me to do five worship songs for forty-seven minutes, when myself, and one other person it actually worshipping. I might as well worship at home.

With this in mind, until the congregation shows signs that they actually want to worship more, than I will only do two or three songs for worship for now on. Worship is only worth something, at this point, for two things: 1) To remind the congregation that there is a God to worship when they choose to do so, and 2) To allow for the people who want to worship, to worship.

I will allow for time for the Holy Spirit to work, during the last song.

The next question is this: how do I convey this to the congregation in a loving manner? I’ll let them know how I feel. Such as this:

“How many of you want to worship? In light of this, we will sing only two to three worship songs during service for now on. The reason for this is two fold. Number one, the majority of the congregation seems to not enjoy worshipping God. Number two, I get burned out trying to pull all of you to worshipping God more. After seeing how dead the worship is after most services, I get drained of energy. There’s no point for me to worship by myself, along with perhaps one or two others. I might as well go home and do it on my own.

God told me to be the leader of worship, but if you all are stubborn and do not want to worship, I’m not going to force you all. I am wiping the dust off my feet and going on my way. But for the sake of the few who worship and so that the church does not forget the God of Love, I will continue to do two or three songs. This way, I won’t waste your time, we can have shorter services, and I won’t get burned out. We’ll continue with more songs when you show me you really want to worship.

Amen, let’s get to worshipping God!”

11:54 PM, December 10, 2002

So I’m following up on the words of the last entry at the very bottom of this whole thing. I’m perhaps, even more clueless. But I think to break the cycle of worship that the congregation may have, I’ll be doing only three songs. I think that may be best, and focus on those three songs that really connect to them.

I don’t really know if I will say what I say in that manner, because I really haven’t told them how to worship. So this Sunday, I plan on sharing them, and teaching them what worship is all about. I’m going to go for a more dynamic approach. MUCH MORE DYNAMIC and interaction.

I can’t just let them sit there, but I need to foster, and lead them to worshipping God.

I’d better start by telling them what Worship is all about.

“Worship is focusing on the character of God. That God is the target on our bull’s eye of thoughts, yet, we often focus on other things around it, like sleepiness, homework, an attitude of not wanting to be here, talking to our friends, etc.

Anytime in worship we think of other things other than God, we are dethroning Him. You could very well just be praying silently in your chair, with your eyes closed, and be worshipping God. And the inverse could be true, that you could be jumping around, clapping your hands, have your hands lifted in the air, and not be worshipping God. What’s really important is where your heart is not necessarily your outward signs.

We often get caught up in the repetition of worship every Sunday and Saturday, and whether the songs sound good or not. How it sounds has nothing to do with the worship, thank God, but it’s all in our hearts. It’s all about the heart of worship. It’s all about more of Him, and less of us. It’s all about having Jesus being the focus of our attentions.

In today’s worship, I challenge all of us to place God on the throne of our thoughts and our hearts.

Of course, none of us are perfect, and often times, especially for me, I just can’t do it. So I would like to spend this time to ask, God, the Father, to teach us how to worship. I would like to spend this time to ask, the Holy Spirit, to dwell in all of us and teach us how to worship, because I’m in desperate need of a teacher. Let’s spend this time in prayer, but I encourage you to say your prayers out loud, because it’ll help you communicate, without getting your thoughts all jumbled up in the process.”

I think I may do four songs, and leave it at that, because I often go way too long with those four songs. So four songs it is. Five songs, go wayyy to long for EMP, and probably for them also.

11:14 PM, December 11, 2002

Darn. . . I wish I couldn’t admit it, but yes I have to. THERE IS SOMETHING to [redacted] that I can’t deny. I have feelings for her…. And I don’t know if it’s because she’s someone I can be married too and that’s why I’m sooo attracted to her. . . it torments me, well, I Don’t know what it is. I’ll just have to go at this very cautiously but doesn’t mean I can’t see her. That wouldn’t make much sense. I will continue and get to know her as strictly a friend for now, until God tells me to pursue even further.

God, I ask for your direction, and that I don’t be so stuck in my ways that I don’t hear you when you call me toward a direction. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Sunday, December 15, 2002

QUESTIONS FOR LEAD PASTOR ON WEDNESDAY MEETING

INTRODUCTION
I feel very passionate about making the youth better while I’m here. I refuse to allow things to stay the way they are while I have the power to change them. The main issue that needs to be changed right now is with Bobby Lee. He has been in his position of Praise Leader, placed by [redacted] JDSN*, about four to six years ago, and has been a major sickness to the group. He’s been the wolf in “sheep” clothing that Jesus warned to watch out for directly in his Sermon on the Mount, whether Bobby realizes it himself or not.

[* JDSN is short for the Korean word, “Jun-do-sa-nim” which refers to the previous Youth Group Pastor before EMP]

I tried to do all that I could to remove Bobby from his position, but I was highly discouraged due to various oppositions. I would have had kept going all the way, if it weren’t for the politics and for EMP. This brings me to some questions and request for advice as to what steps you would recommend for me to take at this point. The reason why I ask you instead of EMP, is because after asking for EMP’s advice, I was questioning the logic and biblical truths he had for his reasons.

EMP stated that the main reason why he’s not removing Bobby from his position right now is because of Bobby’s Dad. He told me that I should wait out for one year, until Bobby’s dad is out of his elder position, before making any move, because Bobby’s dad has so much pull influencing the English ministry. I find this advice highly unbiblical and it tears me up inside with frustration. So, I come at this point, highly discouraged, and frustrated and confused. I desire to serve in the ministry, but I don’t know how long I should continue to serve when EMP is so paralyzed toward the reactions of the parents and not willing to make the changes in the English ministry that are desperately needed. So here are my questions:

QUESTIONS
1) How deep are the politics at the church?
2) Does Bobby’s dad have that much power to make EMP feel so powerless?
3) Where are the Korean parents actively involved in the group?
4) What kind of recommendations would you make in approaching the situation with Bobby?
5) How do I approach EMP and communicate what I need to see more out from him?
6) What do I do when he refuses to recognize his weaknesses and change them (ex. His concern over personal appearance).

REASONS WHY I BELIEVE THE ADVICE OF WAITING UNTIL BOBBY’S DAD LEAVES HIS POSITION IS UNBIBLICAL AND ILLOGICAL:
1) The problem will only grow worse over time.
2) Creates a lowered standard for the rest of the spiritual leadership of the group.
3) Opens the door for future involvement of parental politics
4) Concerns only for keeping the “outward” appearance calm, when inside it’s entirely fake and sickening
5) Tolerates specifically toward the “false prophets” Jesus warns against, specifically in Matthew 7:15 – 20
6) Pursues a fake peace, rather than an authentic, long lasting peace that is scriptural based as in Mathew 5:9
7) Sets the precedence for the rest of the congregation with spiritual weak leadership

HOW DO I KNOW BOBBY HAS NOT REPENTED
Spiritual leadership as a Praise Leader is more than simply doing it in worship. It concerns with the core. DO NOT BE DECEIVED BY HIS SUPPOSED IMPROVEMENT IN THE PRAISE AREA BY LEARNING NEW SONGS. The tough times have proven his true fruits. The fruits of the spirit have not been developed outside of the “music” field. If there’s true change in the core, it would show in all areas of service for the church.

Monday, 2:56 AM, December 16, 2002

[I believe this is me writing out the notes on what I want to say to Bobby directly in a sit down meeting.]

TALK WITH BOBBY

I’ve been doing a lot of thinking over the last couple of days of the whole situation of the church. I’ve seen lots of things go through the church and seen a lot of things that need to be changed that haven’t. I’ve endured through the worst of church politics, and hopefully never see again. Despite this, I continue to endure and am ever more hopeful and passionate about our English ministry and for our generation. One thing I can boast in, and the only reason why I continue to have this fire, is because my motivation does not come from within, but comes from the strength God has given me.

There were countless times in which I wanted to quit and give up within our church, but every single time, I found God opening my eyes to a bigger picture He has for our church. Every time I felt like I had no more desire to serve, God would remind me that it’s not about what I think, but about me serving, not people, but God. He reminds me daily never to be content with my life, nor be content about the situation of the church and world. There will always be something that needs to be changed, and our church definitely has a lot of things to change for God’s glory.

In order to glorify God and further God’s kingdom, that’s why I come here with you right now. I gain nothing out of this except deep pain for having to put you through this request that I’m about to bring up. And of the constant worry that cuts through my sleeping hours with the spiritual level our congregation, EMP, and you are at.

I wish I could describe the countless tears that I shed for our congregation, and the desperate situation we are at. How tears stream down my face as I write this request. I desperately do not want to put you into the pain that was so fresh in our mind just a couple of months ago, but for the good of your personal relationship with Christ and for the good of the church, I have to ask you to quietly leave the position as Praise Leader by the end of January.

I have no church position now to “officially” ask you to leave. EMP, though his heart is big, does not have the endurance to approach you on this, and has no idea I am talking to you right now. He has no idea I am doing this, none of the praise members, besides [redacted], know I am doing this. No one but God, [redacted], you, and myself know I am asking you to leave the position quietly.

I ask you in private first, because, if possible, I do not desire the entire church to be involved. I would like to ease the pain on them as much as possible. When I refer to church, I refer to those who are concerned for the spiritual growth of the church, and not simply those who show up, eat food, socialize, and leave. I would like to ease the pressure off EMP, as much as possible, because I am aware of his weaknesses and sickness. If at all possible, I would not like a repeat of what happened in September. And that’s why I ask you in here.

I want to make it clear as to why I am so adamant about you retiring from Praise Leader. I can narrow it down to one reason. You’re main priority is not God. Sure, we all have our ups and downs, but the ultimate surrender of your life and acceptance of God as your King, Lord, Master, everything, is still in the works. God does not take center stage in your life, but you take it. You place Jesus on the shelf, and periodically pull him out when He’s most convenient to you.

Even after the whole ordeal in September, though you verbally said, “sorry,” you did not repent. I wasn’t attacking you about how well you sang, or how much you guys practiced, or whether there were chorded transparencies, or whether you talked during sermons or not. What I was concerned about was your heart; the very core of your being; the only part God is concerned about.

So, I’ll make clear of what my request from you is: that you leave your position quietly, as Praise Leader, by the end of January. I ask with as much humbleness as God will give me, and with God’s gracious love that I struggle to find in myself sometimes.

But it wouldn’t be fair to you if I didn’t also warn you of the dangers of not taking this option. God sees all, knows all, and pierces to our true motives and intentions. He knows everything that you’ve done since you accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior and you will have to account straight to God for every action and words that you have spoken, just as I will have to take account to God this very conversation and every moment of my life. This account to our God will be far from pleasant. Christ wouldn’t state warnings of this judgment of believers if it weren’t something He wants us to go through.

And don’t think that God is the only consequence of declining this option. Just as God sent his representative to do His work on earth, through Paul, Matthew, Luke, and other apostles, so will I ensure God’s will is done in God’s church. I will not sit by idly if you choose to refuse this offer, because this offer comes not from me, but from the conviction God has stirred in my heart. I will respond not by my own desires, but by the will of God Himself.

I can only understand, with the knowledge that God has given me, of the pain you will be going through dealing with this issue, and I am willing to do whatever God allows me to do to go through the pain with you. The pain will be there, and it will be great due to how much you’ve based your self-identity around the position, but Christ will be there to guide you through, I will be there to help you, and your close friends will do what they can. You will not be alone in your struggle to focus your life on God once again. I want to be your friend through this, and not your enemy. I want to see you become madly in love with Christ, and living by the full power of the Holy Spirit, just as I desire for every member in our congregation.

I am asking you to quietly drop the position of Praise Leader by the end of January. Please consider this option over the week, and let me know your response on Christmas or before. And please keep this issue, as much as possible, from anyone else’s ears, except those you can trust for Godly Wisdom and advice.

Tuesday, 8:03 PM, December 17, 2002

Ok, reasons for changing time. The concern is that I’m doing this for my own personal benefit?

Ok, let’s think about it, perhaps I am. I’m doing this so that I will be more effective for each of the services.

Then do I need to be at both of them? Perhaps in the future, yes, I will.

Here’s the thing then.

11:24 PM

Wow, the politcs at the church are crazy. Something amazing happened in how God revealed the deception I had in EMP. I had such high hopes fro EMP, but now I see that there’s some big problem. . . . but God had the gracious thing of revealing to my eyes to the situation.

Sunday [December 15], after the officer’s meeting, I talked to EMP and let him know about the situation with Bobby. Pretty much, I dug into to see what the problem was, and what was stopping him from removing Bobby from his position as Praise Leader. Pretty much, he narrowed down for me that it was solely because of Bobby’s Dad that was why he wasn’t letting Bobby through. He told me that because Bobby’s dad had monetary things, he didn’t want to do anything that would inhibit it. He then told me that Lead Pastor told EMP to lay low until Bobby’s Dad left his position, which was one year.

I found this entirely unbiblical, and let [redacted] know about this. It didn’t make any sort of logic, and so I asked [redacted] if Bobby’s dad really had that much power over EMP, and [redacted] said that EMP is just a wuss. Then I told [redacted] what EMP told me what Lead Pastor told him. [redacted] says, that’s not what Lead Pastor would say, so I made an appointment with Lead Pastor to find out what I should do with the situation with Bobby because EMP wasn’t doing anything.

So, I made the appointment for Wednesday [December 18], and when I got home, at around 10:00 PM that night, I wrote about two pages of what I would ask Lead Pastor. At about 12:00 AM, I got a pang in my heart, as I realized I don’t need to ask for Lead Pastor’s advice, I knew what I had to do. I had to write to Bobby about leaving his position quietly. I then wrote a two page item [two entries above] which is, whoa, at 2:56, AM, nevermind. Well, you can look at the times. Anyway, yeah, so I did that.

Monday [December 16] came along, and that night I called up Bobby and made an appointment for 11:30 AM the next day. I did meet Bobby, and I told him about what I wanted him to do with the reading of the paper. That went extremely well, and it was also in the evening in which, I started really discussing about changing from Saturday to Wednesday or some other day.

Anyway, at about 10:00 PM, ish, [redacted] writes me this message on [AOL] IM:

Session Start (AIM – JephKim:[redacted]): Tue Dec 17 21:44:19 2002
JephKim: [redacted]!!!
[redacted]: hey
JephKim: DAH-[redacted]?
[redacted]: i heard you had another talk with bobby
JephKim: really?
JephKim: from who?
[redacted]: who else?
[redacted]: what’s it about this time
JephKim: who did you hear this from?
[redacted]: who else?
JephKim: ahhhh
JephKim: got it
JephKim: sorry
JephKim: I’m slow
JephKim: darn. . .
JephKim: I wish he didn’t talk about it
JephKim: did he sound mad?
JephKim: I guess it would be natural if he was
JephKim: . . .
[redacted]: what’s it about this time
JephKim: he didn’t tell you?
[redacted]: you want me to consider this purely in his pov?
JephKim: pov?
[redacted]: point of view
JephKim: I mean, did he tell you waht this was about?
[redacted]: just that you wanted him to leave again
JephKim: didn’t tell you why I warned him?
[redacted]: so he could leave and come back a better leader or something
JephKim: yeah
JephKim: exactly
JephKim: well
[redacted]: that’s not a very good reason
JephKim: not exactly
JephKim: but semi-close
JephKim: I’ll explain l8r if he chooses to decline
JephKim: I’d prefer not to get the politics all invovlved again
JephKim: but. .. .
[redacted]: you just can’t stand bobby up there, can you
JephKim: seems like it’s happening anyway
JephKim: let’s talk this over the phone
[redacted]: well if he tells his dad, it’s pretty much over
[redacted]: i’m at home
JephKim: ok
JephKim: give me a sec

So I call up [redacted], and I find out that, through gradual conversation, about the past of EMP. He pretty much told me that I would need Bobby’s backup in order to take out EMP. I asked what he meant about EMP, and then I heard the extremity of the history, and I was opened to the deception EMP has been doing to me. . . .

From there, I called up Bobby, [redacted], and [redacted], and let them know. Bobby already knew about it and affirmed me on the facts. [redacted] and [redacted] have not heard any of this before. . .

So, I’m talking to EMP tomorrow, and I’ll be confronting EMP on this issue heads on. I just pray for guidance. But it’s amazing how God uses every situation, even when it looked bad, to reveal a deeper truth and use it for good.

Wednesday, 12:22 AM, December 18, 2002

EMP’s history will be what I’ll be talking with [Lead Pastor] on. I need to research it.

12:30 PM

Here are some verses regarding EMP, and will probably apply to Bobby in the future also:

“Son of man, I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel; so hear the word I speak and give them warning from Me. When I say to a wicked man, ‘You will surely die,’ and you do not warn him or speak out to dissuade him from his evil ways in order to save his life, that wicked man will die for his sin, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the wicked man and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his evil ways, he will die for his sin; but you will have saved yourself. Again, when a righteous man turns from his righteousness and does evil, and I put a stumbling block before him, he will die. Since you did not warn him, he will die for his sin. The righteous things he did will not be remembered, and I will hold you accountable for his blood. But if you do warn the righteous man not to sin and he does not sin, he will surely live because he took warning, and you will have saved yourself” (Ezekiel 3:17-21, NIV).

15″Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. 16By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? 17Likewise every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. 18A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. 19Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them. (Matthew 7:15 – 20, NIV)

13For such men are false apostles, deceitful workmen, masquerading as apostles of Christ. 14And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light. 15It is not surprising, then, if his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. Their end will be what their actions deserve. (2 Corinthians 11:13 – 15, NIV)

Here’s a good website regarding this:
http://www.ecn.ab.ca/salttalk/pastors.htm

1:48 PM

I will be seeing Lead Pastor today, so this is what I think I’ll ask him about.:

QUESTIONS
1) How deep are the politics at the church?
2) Does Bobby’s dad have that much power to make EMP feel so powerless?
3) Where are the Korean parents actively involved in the group?
4) I will be approaching him one on one, hopefully with [redacted], and tell him that he has to be removed or be kicked out. He’s serving his self image before Christ. I must warn him.

11:08 PM

What am I to do with EMP and Bobby?

EMP: I will let Lead Pastor do what he can, and I will check with Lead Pastor, weekly on updates. I will also talk to him individually and let him know, that I do not trust anything he says.

Bobby:
I will give him until he decides, and decide then.

Friday, 1:59 AM, December 20, 2002

How can I work with Bobby?

I have to make sure that I’m not the only one who sees the hopelessness in seeing Bobby get absolutely fired up for Jesus.

The ultimate goal of the group is to see them Crazy in love for Christ. All the leaders have to be fired up in order for the rest of the congregation to be fired up. Whether it’s me, or someone else that gets him fired up, that’s what’s important.

And whatever answer Bobby gives me, I will be sure to ask him for his reasons. I want him fired up, and he needs to be a fired up leader for the great commandment to be carried through. He either has to be a fired up leader, or hungry to be a fired up leader and be in the process. If he’s neither, then he shouldn’t be in the position. Lukewarm with the combination of being complacent with the condition will not be acceptable.

However, the fact that I’m kicking him out is clouding his ability to become fired up, and I need to see other ways.

What I need then, if he chooses to stay, is someone to keep him accountable and see that he’s getting more and more fired up. I will check in on their progress, on whoever is keeping Bobby accountable, and watch Bobby grow. That person, whoever is the one keeping Bobby accountable, will be the one who says that Bobby is not growing or not.

I have to begin searching for people who will keep Bobby accountable and whom he feels comfortable doing so with.

QUESTIONS TO ASK BOBBY WHEN HE REFUSES TO QUIETLY LEAVE THE POSITION:

1) Are you aware that, due to the low spiritual level of the group, that the congregation will not be fired up until you are fired up for Christ?

2) Are you content with your current spiritual level?

3) Are you willing to throw away everything to grow in your relationship with Christ?

4) Are you willing to be the leader that God wants you to be and take the necessary sacrifices to be that leader?

5) Are you willing to have someone that we can mutually trust to keep you accountable to these questions?

6) Who will that person be (this can take some time to decide on the person)?

10:37 PM

[I sent an email prior to this of which contents I no longer remember.]

I will still have the meeting with the group. This is what I will say to the group tomorrow:

I want to apologize first of all about the alarming e-mail I sent. I wrote it without thinking first, and it caused a lot more problems than I foresaw. I have made many mistakes throughout my time serving at the church, and I would like to apologize to as many of them as possible and repent, and then continue by stating why I continue and stay, despite the strong resistance. Those will be the two main reasons for this meeting.

I will begin with the things that I have failed in. The first item is that I have overstepped my boundaries of responsibility. I saw problems in the church, and instead of notifying the people who are responsible to fix them, I attempted to fix them myself. My responsibility as a member of the congregation is to be the eyes and ears of the head of our church. I am to only report the truth, and allow those with the responsibility to do the discipline. I am not the one who disciplines. I can’t disclose specific examples because we’re still undergoing the pain in which I was partly responsible for.

I once again, want to apologize for doing the discipline when it was not my responsibility. I overstepped my boundaries. I will no longer try and do the discipline, and I will trust in those who have the responsibility to do the disciplining in the church. I will continue, however, to do my duty, as a congregation member, to report problems to those who are responsible in fixing them. This way, I will not overstep my boundaries, nor the boundaries of the Pastors. I will also, with God’s grace, not act like I do have the authority of a Pastor. This way, we can act as a functioning body of Christ.

What gives me the right to alarm the Pastors of the truth? I have heard reports that there are some who believe I am attempting to fix things to become the one with supreme power. A sort of “jeffopoly” theory, a name I coined myself. I would like to address this by stating that I already have power through being one of the oldest ones in the congregation and spiritual healthy. Whether I have a title or not, people naturally look at me with having influence. Because I am one of the oldest ones in the congregation and one with influence, I am naturally concerned with the spiritual state of the congregation. I am concerned that the younger ones are being deceived to. I do not create a messy situation because I want to become more powerful, but I do so in order that the younger ones know God’s good, pleasing, and perfect will at the end of the mess. I realize that eggs will have to be cracked to make the omelet. I realize that in order to enter the Promised Land, I’ll have to make some sacrifices.

But that’s not the only reason why I am concerned. It is a moral obligation for me to be a truth teller as a good Christian. For me to not warn the flock that wolves are coming, or that there is a cliff coming up ahead, causing some to be lost would make me accountable straight to God. In this world where lies and half-truths are the standard, I take a bold stand to be a radical truth teller. I will not be silent if the sheep are being deceived to. I will not be silent as long the church body continues to be lead by man’s desires, rather than God’s desires. I probably will never be silent for the rest of my life.

I think of the hope that God placed in me, and the song “History Maker.” I will close by reciting the truths that I see in the chorus of what all good Christians are called to do by God, “I’m going to be a History Maker to this land. I’m going to be a speaker of truth to all mankind.” I will trust in the leadership of the church to do the discipline and I will not overstep my boundaries. I will also be the speaker of truth to the leadership, even when it hurts.

12:05 AM, December 23, 2002

I can no longer serve in the church with a clear conscience. I toss and turn in bed every night with the burden that the sheep are being scattered into the wilderness to be swallowed by the wolves. I am torn inside knowing that EMP and Lead Pastor willfully allow the English congregation to be misled and live lives of spiritual immaturity.

I have come to realize that many of the problems in the church (ex. Bobby as praise leader, fellowship on Saturdays rather than Wednesdays, the placement of EMP as youth pastor, the dead state of the group, the congregational responses, the sermons, etc.), are all due to the leaderships’ paralysis on doing God’s will over their own wills. The group could so easily take a 180 degree turn toward God if EMP turned and passionately desired to do God’s will rather than his own desires.

Lead Pastor is now thrown into the mix of being a leader incapable of doing God’s will even when it means sacrifices. This is because he willfully placed EMP in the position and is unwilling to remove him despite the obvious facts that he’s ineffectual as a Godly leader. Lead Pastor placed EMP as the youth leader because there was no one else, despite the fact that he knew EMP would be too chicken to do God’s will. He placed EMP in the position because the Korean parents would not come to the congregation if there was no place to put their kids during services. The parents go where their kids go, and all the parents care about is that some “JDSN” watches over them. The parents don’t care if their spiritually growing, so therefore, Lead Pastor will not make it of prime importance.

IF SOME KIND OF YOUTH PASTOR WAS NOT THERE, THE PARENTS WOULD NOT ALLOW THEIR KIDS TO CONTINUE AND GO TO THE CHURCH, AND THEREFORE, LEAD PASTOR WOULD LOSE CONGREGATION MEMBERS.

This all depends, however, on Lead Pastor’s reaction at the end of the two weeks to EMP. I need to know what would convince Lead Pastor to remove EMP, because I do not believe EMP will change in two weeks. EMP has to go and the group has to go without a youth pastor for a while. EMP cannot stay at the state he is in, where he’s more concerned about himself rather than God.

However, I am still unconvinced that Lead Pastor is willing to fire EMP for any reason. They must’ve had other candidates when picking people, but for some reason they picked EMP.

I will have to leave the church.

12:09 AM, December 29, 2002

[I went on a “missions trip” that had been pre-planned for months prior to this event.]

If there’s one thing that I can get from the mission, it is that I met Pastor Larry from “Eagle’s Nest” ministry. Before he did the ministry at Eagle’s Nest, he was under leadership that wasn’t as spiritually ready. What he learned by being in that ministry was how to not run a ministry when he started his own ministry. He also suggested, that unless God is calling away from the congregation, that I should stay.

I will follow his advice, and pray that God will change the heart of the leadership, because the people are unwilling to remove them. After all, the ministry is not for them, but for the people that I serve.

8:34 PM, January 2, 2003

I just talked to Ira Green (Safehouse ministries) and Pastor Larry (Eagle’s Nest Ministry) at a banquet in Emory Conference Center in Atlanta, GA. They stated some very interesting things. One of the things they stated is that people don’t believe that the pure and plain Gospel is powerful enough to compel people to offer their lives to God. Pastor Larry stated that if you fish people into the church with anything but the Gospel, then they will need to continue and have that or something new to keep them coming. If the people get fished in by the gospel, plain and simple, then even when there isn’t all those high techy stuff or “entertaining” things, they will still be satisfied.

Keep this mind as you tell people about the Gospel. The whole thing is falling in love with God, and everything else will fall into place. All the attitudes, and the addictions will fall into place.

2:27 AM, January 3, 2003

I can no longer be content with the state of the church. There has to be changes for the better. The church must move closer to God and get out of its state of deadness. I feel a restlessness within my soul and I cannot even sleep! EVEN WHEN I’M ON MY MISSION TRIP, I THINK CONSTANTLY ABOUT THE CHURCH!!!! It’s like an endless torment on my soul, or at least tonight, that I cannot get away from. I cannot simply ignore it.

I hope this is of God. . . but I do not know for sure, nor right now am willing to really sincerely think if it is, but this reminds me of how Paul stated that he felt birth pains of the his churches that he started. He stated how he constantly worried about his churches. I guess this is exactly what I’m sensing too. . . . wow.

Anyway, there will be a meeting on Sunday, and I want to make sure it’s very clear that Saturday can no longer exist as it does. It either has to disappear or be rescheduled to another day. Fellowship cannot be on Saturday, because the congregation gets absolutely tired of it.

The reason why I’m so uptight about it, is because I have a feeling there will be massive resistance, because Bobby probably would not do it on Wednesday. He probably would say that if worship is on Wednesdays, then he will not do worship, and then that’s pretty much the equivelent of kicking Bobby out, which would make his father mad, and put us all into the politics. . .

DAH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!111

THIS IS ABSOLUTLEY REDICULOUS@@!!!! This ministry revolves around the wishes of Man, and not that of God. Instead of putting the spiritual growth of the congregation, first in mind, we settle with fulfilling the selfish needs of individuals! THE SPIRITUAL GROWTH OF THE CHURCH MUST BE A HIGH PRIORITY ABOVE THAT OF THE SELFISH NEEDS OF THE SERVANTS!!! GOD MUST BE FIRST, AND THE SPIRITUAL NEEDS OF THE CHURCH ARE SECOND!!!

FOR THELOVE !!!!!!!!!!! How can the priorities be so oooo screwed up? ? ? ?? ?? What am I to do, then? What am I to say, because I have a feeling no amount of reason will convince EMP to change Saturdays to Wednesdays.

I PASSIONATELY DESIRE TO SEE PEOPLE CRAZY IN LOVEFOR CHRIST@!!!! But when the leadership refuses to take steps in order to see that happen, I begin to questions them. WELL, it’s no longer questioning, because I know that the leadership isn’t focused on the spiritual growth of the church as a high priority. It’s all about appeasing and fulfilling the selfish desires of its congregation.

It makes me want to puke, and I’m disgusted. I do not want to be moving in circles in the water. We have to move forward, we have to move ahead, we have to gain momentum, we cannot lag behind, we cannot hold onto idols, we have to do God’s will and not Man’s will. GOD BE FIRST!!! GOD TAKE CONTROL!!! GOD BE THEMOMENTUM!!! GOD BE EVERYTHIGN IN THE CHURCH!!! GOD BE THE SOLE FOCUS OF THEGROUP!!!!!

God, give me wisdom as to how to deal with this situation and give me peace, knowing that you are ultimately in control. Lord God reveal to me how you want to handle the situation so that I may find your pastures and have rest. God use me as your tool and have Love be the underlying item in me. May I do none of this in anything but love.

On an entirely different note, I will have to talk to Lead Pastor ASAP to know his decision on the youth pastor. If Lead Pastor decides to keep EMP as a youth pastor, I must hear his reasons why. If it’s for reasons that strike my heart as ungodly, I will let Lead Pastor know that. Once that has taken place, and I know EMP will stay as youth pastor, I will have to confront him and let him know that I cannot trust him and that all things that come out of his mouth, I sense as lies and deceit, but I will let him know that I serve the group and God as my first priority, and I will continue and stay for the younger guy’s sake, and for those who just come on Sundays. I fear that I am not a useful tool for the older guys in the church.

2:51 AM, January 3, 2003

Reading through the passages in these journal entries from September, you have to realize something, and I’ve come to see this. [redacted] is not helping the situation of the church. In fact, he is hindering and hurting the church at the current state. What the church needs right now, is change, and [redacted] is against moving the change because of his obsession with not hurting people.

It’s not that [redacted] is bad, but his priorities are a little wacked right now, and I have to understand that, right now, I should not rely on him. In fact, at this point, I can rely on no one in the church, and simply be there. I would consider [redacted], but he’s unwilling to passionately seek out worth everything, and currently needs to focus on a passionate relationship with Jesus.

As for [redacted], she’s all talk about how I’ve done wrong, and is unwilling to do any changes herself. She is not willing to invest into the youth group of anything, nor is [redacted], nor is a lot of people in the group. Their talk is like poison to my heart. I must stop listening to their opinions, and listen only to that of God. Until they are willing to offer other options, instead of simply bashing on me, then I will not and should not listen to them.

I am alone.

Except for GOD!!! HALLELUJAH. That’s all I need. Things will be much more difficult, but God would not had opened my eyes to the desperate situation of the church without a solution in mind. I will not be going through these struggles for no reason. The one who started a great work, will finish a great work. I don’t have a problem with vision. . . my problem is getting through the vision, and this is the first major vision, that didn’t affect only myself.

May I do Your will father, and not my own.

11:54 PM, January 5, 2003

So I had a meeting with Lead Pastor today about my actions. Pretty much Lead Pastor cannot trust what I say because I have already broken that trust with him by talking about the issues today. I understand completely. Though I am to tell the truth, the fact that I went ahead of the “head” of the church, which is Lead Pastor, and tried to do his work rather than be only the ears and eyes of Lead Pastor, I screwed up.

I am to tell any problems directly to Lead Pastor and not let it out into the rest of the body, especially when it deals with the rumors of EMP.

So pretty much, I did what I had to do, and let Lead Pastor know what the truth or what I heard the truth to be. It’s up to him, now, to do with it as he pleases, and Lead Pastor will be accountable for [EMP]. So a lot of weight was lifted off of me, because now I know, at least from Lead Pastor’s mouth, that he will be responsible for the actions, starting this point forward, of EMP.

Now I can have that weight lifted off, and I know that I am not the one to keep EMP accountable, but Lead Pastor.

I never knew that I could do too much in a church to make it go haywire, but it’s a good lesson for me to see. I went above the responsibility of the head, and it screwed things up.

I agreed to Lead Pastor, and this is something I will have to take very seriously, these three things. 1) I AM NOT THE ONE WHO DISCIPLINES. Lead Pastor is the one who does, along with EMP. 2) I WILL BRING ALL PROBLEMS STRAIGHT TO LEAD PASTOR AND ONLY TO HIM. A lot of the problems would’ve been alleviated if I went to Lead Pastor directly, and only to him. I must remember to be only the eyes and ears of him. 3) I WILL LOVE ALL THE STUDENTS.

Because of the mistakes in the method that I went through this, the truth was diluted with my personal screw ups. With my mistakes, and the fact that Lead Pastor cannot trust the truth bearer, which was me, then my truth that I let loose was not taken as truth. For how can Lead Pastor trust me when I break promises? So, I understand, and I’m torn up inside that I didn’t do this as well as I could have. My mess up made it so that the truth from me did not come out as truth.

Lead Pastor says that I am to complain only of what EMP does right here and now, and not in the past. So I will. So be it.

I still, however, need to know the truth behind EMP. If I am to serve him, then I must be sure to be able to trust his integrity. I don’t care about his past, but if he’s in denial of the true past, then that’s where I have a problem. I am perfectly willing to forget the past, but he must first be willing to admit what he truly did.

However, I must also realize that because I broke the trust with him, that he will not be able to trust me with the truth. I have a feeling that if he did actually commit the action, that he would not reveal it to me because he does not trust me. So be it.

January 7, 2003

[This is a letter that I had sent to Lead Pastor after I had gotten chewed out by EMP in front of the volunteer team.]

Pastor Kim,

When EMP threatened me on Sunday in the meeting about his past, I asked permission to talk to his wife to find the truth on his past. If EMP has come to forgiveness and true repentance of his past, there is not much excuse as to why he would become so violent and enraged to me for revealing lies, unless there were some truths to it. EMP gave me permission to call his ex-wife. Last night at around 9:10 PM, I asked permission from [David Choe], a once close friend of EMP’s whom I contacted earlier and based my accusations from, to contact EMP’s ex-wife, [redacted], because I did not know if she would feel comfortable talking about EMP’s past to me. She called me back at about 10:25 PM.

Before I disclose what I heard from her, I want to make very clear that I have no hate against EMP. I love him and I desire to work with him. However, any kind of relationship must be based on truth, and EMP, from my personal experiences with him over the past two years, has shown a deep sickness in embracing his past sins through denial and deceit. If he will openly repent and admit what he did wrong, honestly and without half-lies, I will embrace him with all my heart, forgive him, and forget the past. I believe everyone, through God’s love, can do so. I pray with tears for his deliverance from Satan’s lies and freedom in the truth of Jesus Christ, because I believe Satan has made him authentically think that he is the victim and that all those that love him are his enemies.

[Ex-wife] disclosed many details about her experience with EMP in quietness and humbleness, however, by her request, I will not disclose the details. The details are not important. The important thing is that EMP has not been completely honest with us and that the relationship between the church and EMP has been based on lies. [Ex-wife] confirmed what David Choe, friend and [redacted], stated about EMP’s past. I will relay what David Choe has told me and been confirmed by [Ex-wife], EMP’s ex-wife.

EMP went up to Alaska through his family’s construction company and had an affair with a married woman there. He then ran off with her in hopes of starting a new life with her, but the woman went back to her husband. EMP was then left alone to face his sin and the consequences of his actions. I do not doubt that he had one of the worst experiences any man could go through and that God had a direct hand in keeping EMP alive for a greater purpose that has yet to unfold.

What I hear from David Choe is that he and others have reached out to EMP on numerous occasions with money and love, to be received then cut off with unreturned phone calls. David Choe analogized EMP’s situation with that of an alcoholic in denial. EMP’s friends and family desperately want to help, but are unable to because EMP will not receive and face his sin completely and honestly. I hear from [ex-wife] that, in his condition, EMP cannot see the family’s “tough love” in any other way but not being on his side. EMP sincerely believes that he is the victim.

I understand that I have made many mistakes that have questioned my motives. I will take full responsibility of my mistakes, however, this still does not change the fact that the things that EMP tells to us and [the church], directly conflicts with the loving outpouring his family and friends still have for him. It pains me that because of my mistakes, the truth has been hindered. I hope that the testimony of his close friend and confirmation from EMP’s ex-wife will be enough to convict you to search for the truth of EMP’s words.

I believe that EMP is trying his best to make with the life he has now, but with the burden of his past sins through denial. EMP cannot pasture the older students, specifically Bobby and [redacted], [redacted], [redacted], and [redacted], effectively as long as the truth about EMP’s past is not established. They have heard too much at this point and some sincerely believe that EMP cannot be trusted in anything he says. The younger students, on the other hand, are defenseless to EMP’s condition. I have hope that EMP will come to grips with the truth in his own life, through the grace of God, and will be reconciled with his family and friends. I believe that God placed EMP in our church for a specific reason and confirmed it in his own and your heart. I know that, when EMP comes to face and defeat his past sins through Jesus Christ, that EMP can be fully used by God to take His church further.

This is possibly one of the most turbulent scenarios for a pastor to deal with and I cannot imagine the kinds of pains you will be going through. I have had only a small taste of the challenges that you will be facing. I know this goes beyond my wisdom on effectively handling the situation with the least amount of damage, and redemption of EMP. I have faith and pray that God will use you to make the wisest and best decisions for His church and for EMP’s sake.

David Choe is willing to be contacted for questions at his cell number, (###) ###-####, or home number, (###) ###-####. [Ex-wife], at this time does not feel comfortable to talk about this issue with you, for the fear that her children will be deeply impacted by this affair. [Ex-wife] let me know that there is some woman in the congregation that is a close friend with EMP and had traveled with him to Alaska to meet his parents. The woman has heard straight from EMP’s parents’ mouths about EMP’s affair, but I fear she has left the congregation by now.

May you seek God for wisdom, love, direction, strength, and comfort during these difficult times. May God open our eyes to see past the sickness and lies in EMP and embrace him as the loved child of our Heavenly Father. Jesus has already conquered Satan’s schemes and enduring through these flames will only make us stronger in our faith in Christ. Thank you, Jesus.

Blessings & Shalom,

Jefferson M. Kim

6:53 PM, January 8, 2003

[These were letters I wrote to the mission trip. Not relevant to the thread of the story.]

Dear Harold,

Looking back on the trip, I’m surprised to see how much time you sacrificed and laid down for us. You not only served us, but you served us with joy! That’s something I need to work on, and I’m glad to see that joy in serving is something that can actually be achieved. I expected to go on the trip and just pour out myself for a week and come back exhausted, but I feel like I received much more from you and Eagle’s Nest than I gave. It wasn’t a mission’s trip. It was a vacation! I will be keeping you and your family in my prayers.

Blessings & Shalom,

Jefferson M. Kim

 

Dear Larry,

I would like to thank you for sharing so much wisdom to me through both your actions and words. I came back home with my feet running in terms of church politics, but the week in Atlanta gave me greater understanding of my situation. I don’t want to go into details in this letter of thanks, but hearing your experiences and seeing your ministry has encouraged me greatly in pursuing a life in serving God no matter the obstacles and sacrifices. I am not just saying the small obstacles, but to the point where my sister thinks I need counseling. Hallelujah! I will be keeping Eagle’s Nest and your family in my prayers.

Blessings & Shalom,

Jefferson M. Kim

15:46, January 10, 2003

I received this e-mail from the Senior Pastor at [church] in response to my letter about EMP:

Hi Jefferson-

I read your letter and I am now responding to inform you of the actions that will take place. In the meeting we had last Sunday, you agreed to teach under EMP’s leadership and not bring up anything about his past. We agreed that from now on, that you will only speak to me about things that are in the present, not having anything to do with his past, including assumptions that he is denying his affair. Instead you went ahead and spoke with his ex-wife. You have broken this promise once again. I want to remind you of the fact that it was not in your power to go ahead with these actions. Therefore, starting this Saturday (1/11) I am asking you to step down from all leadership activities in the church, including your Bible study and praise on Sunday until further notice. As for EMP, I must meet with the Elders and decide his leadership position at the session meeting.

– Lead Pastor

He never actually talked with the elders on this issue.

Aftermath

I stopped going to the church entirely around this point. Sometime later EMP had some kind of improper relationship with a female adult at the church and separated from employment with the church. EMP was hired by another church in the area subsequently.

I’ve also had a chance to let Bobby Lee know that what I did was fucked up, and I had no business being at the church.