Several months after graduating from college with a ministry degree, I was still looking for a church to serve. During this search a friend persuaded me to move to South Korea with him. My prayer at the time was I would be fine with going as long as I could do ministry. That ministry blessedly turned out to be Juan English Ministry in Incheon.
When I learned the ministry recently celebrated their 15th Anniversary, Pastor Joshua Ro kindly sent me an anniversary gift the church had made for her members—an umbrella.
I found this both amusing and appropriate for a ministry in Korea. Umbrellas are sold everywhere in every design. If citizens aren’t using umbrellas to shield themselves from the sun, they’re definitely using them during Korea’s torrential monsoon season. I can’t remember how many umbrellas I bought, broke, or lost during my time there. But when I received the umbrella today in the mail and saw the Juan English Ministry emblem on the fabric, I felt an even deeper appreciation.
The days following my move to Incheon were difficult. There was culture shock, loneliness, emotional instability. For a few weeks I went to my friend’s church about an hour away; it was fine. Then one Sunday a guest minister visited and advertised his congregation which happened to be located just a few blocks from where I lived. After visiting the following week, it felt like a community I needed to join. In the days and weeks that followed, I met new people, worshipped with them, prayed with them, studied the Bible with them, ate meals with them, fellowshipped with them, participated with them in various activities. They helped me to settle into the rhythm of life there. They relieved me of loneliness, protected me from isolation, provided me with purpose, and kept my flame from getting doused. In short, the JEM community was an umbrella.
As is befitting the business of the Church, JEM has regularly opened and outspread such blessedness to countless many from Korea and all over the world. Just as Christ covers the Church with His blood, JEM has covered so many in their love. As the years continue, I pray that however many seek shelter from life’s storms will find in JEM a holy gathering huddled beneath the warmth of God’s embrace with always room enough for more.