To build stronger and deeper relationships with our Mennonite brothers and sisters who have been actively engaged in peace and reconciliation work, ReconciliAsian board proposed that we needed to visit the Mennonite Mecca- Goshen, Indiana. However, we didn’t know when would be the best time for such a trip. When Hyun was invited to speak at KOSTA Chicago- a Korean Christian conference that focuses on Korean international students studying in the United States, we knew that this summer would be the time to make an extensive trip to the Midwest.
June 23-July 1: Goshen and Elkhart, Indiana
Thanks to our amazing board member, Hannah Heinzekehr who organized our itinerary, our one week in the Goshen area was filled with meeting incredible people and organizations. Some of the highlights included:
- eating homemade veggie burgers with Joanna Shenk and Josh Kinder at the Prairie Wolf Collective at 10pm
- touring around the MCC office with Saulo Padilla and seeing the active volunteers at work compressing blankets, and putting together the school kits and the hygiene kits to send all over the world
- speaking at the MC USA office and thanking Sandy Miller and John Lapp of Mennonite Mission Network in person for the support that was impetus in the formation of ReconciliAsian
- meeting Dan Miller of Indiana-Michigan Conference and the church planting work God is placing in the heart of the conference
- having Larry and Wilma Miller open their beautiful home and hosting a dessert social for College Mennonite Church Homebuilders
- speaking at College Mennonite Church where they warmly welcomed us to share about our journey towards reconciliation (you can see video of the sermon here: http://collegemennonite.org/cmc_stream.php?filename=20140629) and having coffee time with Terry and Kay Shue after church
- visiting Andre Gingerich Stoner of MC USA in South Bend and meeting the amazing members of their intentional community- many who are students of Notre Dame- who are transforming their neighborhood with their presence and daily witness.
- connecting with Dean Rebecca Slough, Jewel Longenecker, and Allan Rudy-Froese of Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary and looking for collaborative work in the future
- touring around the beautiful campus of Goshen College
- spending time with Wilbert Shenk, Hyun’s mentor from Fuller Theological Seminary who was most influential in shaping Hyun’s theology of mission and church
- coffee meeting at the Electric Brew with Wes Bontrager of Yellowcreek Mennonite Church and hearing his committed love for Korea and the Korean Anabaptists in Korea
- reconnecting with a fellow Korean Mennonite, Saejin Lee, who attended Church for Others when she was in Los Angeles
- spending a lot of time with our gracious hosts, John and Ruth Roth, who spoiled us with great food and rich conversations the entire week
One of the most unexpected grace encounters came when we received a call from Gilberto Perez, the executive director of Intercultural and International Development at Goshen College. He invited us to partner with Goshen College in promoting higher education among Asian American youth. We gladly accepted, and as a result received a portion of the Lilly Foundation grant that Goshen College received to promote diversity in higher education! We are so grateful and honored for such collaboration.
July 1-7: KOSTA at Wheaton College
From Goshen, we drove towards Wheaton, Illinois. Every first week of July, Koreans from all over the United Sates gather on Wheaton College campus and hold an annual Christian conference called KOSTA. This year was their 29th gathering and about 1,000 Korean students- most who are international graduate school students- came together under the theme, “Our weakness, His Strength”. Hyun was invited to lead several workshops throughout the conference, and they were especially interested in his perspective as a pacifist and as a Korean Mennonite.
Some of the highlights from KOSTA included:
- seeing the staff and organizers’ spirit of volunteerism and deep commitment to serve and minister to the participants
- recognizing that although our perspective in theology and practice may be different from the wider evangelical audience of the conference, we felt humbled that they wanted to hear our views and practices and gave us the space to share our perspectives
- leading several workshops and recognizing that there is a growing interest in understanding restorative justice and peacemaking amongst the participants
- being interviewed to give a brief introduction about the Mennonite values and convictions that undergird our commitment to peace and reconciliation. (You can see the video clip here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=869624183067554).
- reconnecting with old friends who are scattered in the US as well as with those who came as speakers from Korea, and spending the whole week in fellowship together
Although the two weeks in the Midwest was quite intense, it was a time of refreshing and renewal. As we had prayed in the beginning of the trip, relationships with people we knew deepened as we sat and broke break, drank coffee, and had ice cream together. We were deeply encouraged by Mennonite faith leaders who have lived out their commitment to Christ and lived a way of peace sacrificially. We recognize that we stand on their shoulders to continue the work of peace. We were also excited to see a new generation of Koreans and felt hopeful about the possibilities of their future.
In a way, the direction of this trip- from Los Angeles to Goshen to Chicago- is the direction of our organization. Although we have Korean American roots, we have been influenced by the Mennonites, and we are now moving towards the larger Korean American community to educate, equip, and extend the vision of peace and reconciliation.