I came to Canada, (Calgary, Alberta), in August 1975 with my parents and family from Seoul, Korea. In God’s grace, the adversities of immigrant life in Canada became the favorable conditions for the salvation of my large family. From October 1975, I commenced a home Bible study. One by one, the members of my family were added to the Lord and to the fellowship of West Hillhurst Gospel Hall in Calgary. Soon the gospel extended to Korean neighbors. Eventually, a group of Korean believers began to break bread in Acadia Drive Gospel Hall in 1980, which became the first Korean-speaking assembly in North America. I am still grateful to the brethren of the West Hillhurst assembly for their prayers and support.
Sometime later I moved to Toronto to study Chiropractics. In my visit to NYC in 1983, I saw a large Korean community and met several Koreans interested in their souls. This was the beginning of the Lord’s work among the Koreans in New York City. After graduating in 1985, I came back to Calgary and later moved to Edmonton. Meanwhile, the brethren in New York City found a meeting place in a chapel building in New Jersey.
In 1989, the brethren called me and informed me that wrong teaching had infiltrated among them. Upon their request I visited on a regular basis for a few years to help them. Yet their conditions were not easily solved by occasional visits. After carrying this heavy burden for several years, my wife Ann and I finally answered the call of the Lord on December 28, 1993. At the time, as we prepared to move to NYC, we began to pray for the future of a Korean-speaking assembly in that city.
Work in New York City
With the prayer and fellowship of the saints in the Connor’s Hill Gospel Hall in Edmonton and in Acadia Drive Gospel Hall in Calgary, Ann and I, with our three boys (Daniel, Paul, and John) finally left Canada on October 6, 1995, and arrived in NYC where half a million Korean souls reside. While preaching the gospel was my primary work, I realized that without a sound assembly, the newly-converted could not be properly nurtured in the Lord. My initial urgent task was, therefore, to help the Korean assembly in New Jersey, but eradicating existing disorders and implementing N. T. assembly truth were by no means easy jobs. It was a fierce spiritual battle where I needed His power. As expected, I had to face formidable opposition. A godly life among the brethren, with separation from the world, was indispensable to enable us to establish clear lines of fellowship and reception. The infiltration of worldliness, disorder at the Lord’s Supper, including unbeliever’s partaking of the bread, the aloofness of brethren to the things of the Lord, preoccupation with the American dream, dishonesty in business, transactions between saints with debts, and sisters’ attempts to teach in the assembly were some of the sad realities that had to be rectified. It was the scene of a fierce, yet crucial, spiritual battle, where the Lord should prevail.
Teaching His Word with God’s authority and wrestling with the opposition force with tears and longsuffering had been our daily duty. The gracious Lord began to add souls to us, and gave mercy of revival among the believers. More and more saints submitted to His Word, and those opposing gradually lost their power either by changing their course or leaving the assembly. With a newly-established policy of reception (based on the Word of God), new believers were received to the assembly. We began to feel the work of the Holy Spirit as more believers began to exercise spiritual gifts.
While the assembly had been gaining order, someone had secretly lobbied the chapel for some period of time. Finally, in September 2002, the chapel demanded we follow their tradition and abolish our policy on assembly reception. If we complied with their demands, we had to allow any person who professed to be saved [yet not received to the assembly] to partake of the Lord’s Supper and participate in assembly fellowship. I sensed that the Lord was leading me to leave there. At the same time, it was a moment of decision for each faithful saint who had already learned N. T. teaching before the Lord. On October 6, 2002, twenty-seven believers began to break bread and, thereafter, have had regular meetings in my apartment in Corona, Queens. We now enjoy the privilege of experiencing the church in a house as the early saints did. We are so grateful that the Lord has given us a nurturing nest for the believers in the freedom of the Holy Spirit. It is our sincere prayer that the Lord will use this as a base in New York City, where many souls still live under the bondage of Satan with his subtle, yet gripping, powers of deception.
The Korean-speaking assembly in New York City is composed of Christians who gather unto His Name. The Korean language is used for assembly functions. Surrounded by an English-speaking community, such an assembly faces the danger of becoming isolated. One of the antidotes is to have fellowship with the saints of neighboring English-speaking assemblies. Various forms of fellowship, such as the ministry of visiting English-speaking brethren with interpretation, meeting with neighbor assemblies on various occasions, conferences, and participation in gospel activity with mutual cooperation are some of the ways for this goal. I am grateful to the saints of our neighboring English-speaking assemblies for their embracing arms of fellowship and their prayers for the Lord’s work among Koreans in the east coast of the USA.
Important role of Korean-speaking Assembly for the next Generation
The spiritual upbringing of children depends heavily on the spiritual condition of their parents. The first generation immigrants in many cases, due to the language barrier, lack spiritual instruction. Though the second generation uses English and lives in an English-speaking environment, the primary source of their spiritual nurturing will come from their first generation parents, regardless of their proficiency in English. For this reason, spiritual nourishment for the first generation with intelligent communication in a sound assembly is so vital for raising their English-speaking (or bilingual) children in the nurture and admonition in the Lord. This is one of the important reasons why the Korean-speaking assembly should be firmly established in His Word. It is my earnest prayer that, in their future lives, the growing second generation Koreans can exercise their spiritual gifts in the English-speaking assemblies in North America.