January 21st: We wanted the launching service to be on January 21st for several reasons. January 21, 1525 marked the beginning of the Anabaptist movement with George Blaurock who was baptized by Conrad Grebel- an act that rejected infant baptism and affirmed their commitment to follow Jesus in a radical way. As a Mennonite, we thought it was an appropriate date to officially begin this new ministry. In addition, the Januaary 21st was Martin Luther King Jr.’s birthday, a day we celebrate a godly man who showed the world that nonviolence and loving your enemy can not only be done, but it has the effective power to transform individual lives and society to the core.Thirdly, this day was Hyun’s mother’s birthday, and she was able to come all the way from Japan to celebrate this special day with us. This year, January 21st also fell as the date of the inaugural service for President Obama. There was much to celebrate!
We gathered on the third floor of California International University which is located in Koreatown. Dr. Moon K. Park, the president of CIU, graciously allowed us to use one of the chapels in the university to have our service even though the school was officially closed for the MLK Jr. Day holiday.
Many of our friends and family came to the service from near and far. Some fought the holiday traffic to come to the service a few miles away from their home, and others came all the way from Claremont, Ojai, Maryland, Georgia, Macau, Korea, and Japan. Having so many people we care about in one room was a blessing in itself.
Al Dueck, a dear friend and the co-leader of our Mission Supporting Team, presided over the service. He began the service by saying, “I have realized that all these years, I have been spelling reconciliation/ reconciliAsian wrong!” (play on word is hard to interpret, but I think Hyun did a good job explaining). Charletta Erb, a member of the Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministries and Christian Peacemaker Teams, came all the way from Ojai, California to help lead the praise time.
Don Mosley was our main speaker whose life has exemplified what it means to be a true peacemaker understanding the Christian call to the ministry of reconciliation. He shared his special connection with Korea since 1967 when he was the regional director or the Peace Corps in South Korea. He came to Korea just two months after he got married and fell not only deeper in love with his wife, but the Korean people. After forty years of building homes with Habitat for Humanity, establishing Jubilee Partners, and leading many extensive peacemaking delegations around the world with Jimmy Carter, Don felt God’s leading back to the Korean Peninsula.
For the last six years, he had partnered with Fuller Center for Housing to begin a housing project in North Korea in a farming cooperative north of Pyongyang. However, he stated that it was difficult to overcome fear and misunderstandings on both sides and rebuild trust. Unfortunately, the housing project has come to a dead halt, but Don is “more determined than ever to keep on working for peace.” It is this unwavering faithfulness to the call of reconciliation and Don’s faith in action deeply anchored in his love for Jesus that inspired many in the room.
Following the message, Dick Davis and Pablo Kim led the attendees to come up and share a word of blessing or present a small gift for the office of ReconciliAsian (location still be to determined) that symbolized peace or reconciliation. David Augsburger of Peace Fellowship dashed up to the front and presented the famous picture of Dirk Willems extending his arm to rescue the official who was trying to capture him- an image that encapsulates the spirit of forgiveness and reconciliation. Joe Roos of Pasadena Mennonite Church presented a peace lamp reminding us that we are the light of the world and that Christ’s light shines on us all. Later, Joyce Hiendarto from Fuller Seminary gave a picture of an origami crane made from a recycled Korean magazine that was hung on the center of Fuller campus, a school that made an important impact on our journey to peacemaking.
Dick Davis, the conference minister of Pacific Southwest Mennonite conference, gave a word of encouragement from Philippians 1:6 that God “who began a good work [through ReconciliAsian] will complete it.” Charletta read a beautiful letter on behalf of CPT and Bartimaeus Cooperative Ministry that “we commend your vision, which embodies Dr.King’s dream of a Beloved Community. [We] stand ready to support you in whatever way we can… May you proclaim ‘peace to those who are far away and to those who are near’ (Eph 2:17).”
Pastor Moon from Bitnari Church and Pastor Sungwhan Kim also reminded the participants the important role of conflict transformation in the Korean American immigrant churches and shared their excitement about ways of their respective churches partnering with ReconciliAsian in the future. Sungwhan joyfully shared that even though there were many celebrations this evening all around the United States celebrating the inaugural of President Obama, he was glad to be with us celebrating the inaugural service of ReconciliAsian lifting up the King of Kings and seeking to impact the kingdom of God.
The evening ended with a time of prayer for Hyun and Sue led by Dr. Paul Yonggap Jeong of Fuller Seminary. Dr. Jeong has known Hyun since Hyun was in high school, so having him lead this time was especially intimate. The participants gathered around, laid hands, and prayed for the Holy Spirit to guide and bless this inaugural service.
We feel overwhelmed by the flood of blessings and love from everyone who came, blessed, sang, and prayed with and for us. We also know many who were unable to attend, but have given us the courage and boldness to be faithful to the ministry of reconciliation. For all of you, thank you!
Thank you especially for many of our dear friends who helped with all of the behind-the-scene work so that we can have this special evening.