I am a white guy working in a Korean church. The first question that I get asked by people who find out what I do is, “do you know how to speak Korean?” I always respond with, “no.” I have learned a lot in the past two and a half years working here. I’ve learned a lot about what it means to do ministry, but I have also learned a lot about Koreans.
Every Friday morning there is a moms group that meets for a Bible study here at church. Normally, around noon their Bible study is over and they all go home. Today was different. Together, they cooked lunch and asked me to eat with them. They had cooked a “seafood” soup. I’m not sure what the real name of it was but it was definately seafood and noodles in a bowl. Just for the record, I’m not a real fan of seafood. In fact, my motto is, “if it swims I don’t eat it.” With this in mind, Pastor Paul and I sat down for lunch with a bunch of Korean ladies. I’m pretty must used to being the only white person in the room at these kind of things. In fact, I have come to expect it on a daily basis. The funny thing is, my church knows me too well. They know I don’t like seafood so they offered me a different soup. It wasn’t as spicy and was a lot less seadfoodish. I thought it was really good – it tasted like chicken noodle soup to me. I was happy that I didn’t have to eat something I didn’t really like…but I was a little disappointed when I realized the soup I was eating was really the soup that was made for all the little kids. So, here I was sitting in a room with two tables. One table for the adults, one table for the children. All the children are eating the “chicken noodle soup.” All the adults are eating their “seafood” soup, except for me. I guess if there is one good thing to take away from this story, it is that they didn’t send me to the kids table.
Anyways, I thought it was kinda funny. But I also wanted to add, even though I don’t speak Korean I rarely feel out of place. I may not fully understand what is being said, but language is so much more than just words. I can usually figure out what is going on just by paying attention.
So, I’m thankful to be working in a Korean church. I may not always enjoy the food, but they seem to understand and make sure there is food I will like, even if it is children’s food. I may not understand eveything said, but I can still communicate. God works in amazing ways. If you had asked me 4 years ago if I would be sitting down for lunch on a Friday afternoon in a room full of Koreans to eat seafood soup…I would have laughed and said, “no way!” Now I wonder how I could be doing anything else.