Wisdom gained in one’s trade comes through time and experience. This is true of all professions. For Brian Byungsuk Kim, Northwest's Assistant Director of the Korean Language MDIV Program, this wisdom comes in the area of pastoral leadership and care. “Love is the most important thing to church and disciples and the people of God,” Brian recently commented. “The world will know us through our love. For sharing the Gospel – love is the best thing.”
I recently sat down with Brian to learn about his new role with Fellowship Pacific. Brian is on the Connect Team, serving in the area of multi-ethnic ministry, with a focus on Korean churches. Fellowship Pacific has eight Korean Language churches. Brian is to function as a bridge between Fellowship Pacific and Korean churches and pastors; as a bridge between Fellowship Pacific and Northwest, supporting our shared vision of guiding our Korean Masters and Doctoral students from being students to graduates to ordained Fellowship ministers; and, to introduce and explain Korean culture to the denomination and other Canadian churches.
So what does look like? Well, sometimes we learn what most needs to be done through our hurt. Brian shares an experience of rejection from a Canadian church where he had volunteered to serve. At the time he had a high level of theological education, but was still learning the English language. These factors led to his volunteer offer being rejected. His opportunity to learn the culture and operation of a Canadian church was lost.
Brian knows that Korean immigrants, like himself, are hungry for relationships with Canadians. “They want to join the church but there is a barrier because of language. They want to be involved and have relationships, but appear shy because of language. They have a strong desire to meet people and to serve,” observed Brian. Hence, Brian is excited that his new role will allow him to build bridges and educate both Canadian and Korean churches. He wants to teach us to “approach a Korean with an open mind because of the language barrier. Help them learn the English language and Canadian culture.”
Brian has served at Northwest since 2016, originally translating master’s-level courses for professors such as Dr. Larry Perkins, Dr. Mark Naylor, Dr. Brian Rapske, and Dr. Jonathan Numada. When he completed his Doctor of Ministry degree in 2019 (through Northwest), he started serving as the Master of Divinity Program Coordinator, and now serves as the Assistant Director of the Korean Language MDIV Program and as Internship Manager. His roles at Northwest and Fellowship Pacific leave him excited as he sees the synergy between the school work and the denomination work, being able to serve students both at school and then in the denomination.
Brian is also excited that his new role will allow him to serve the Kingdom of God as a gate opener. Brian has been serving in pastoral ministry for 25 years, and currently serves as the lead pastor of Vancouver Alive Church. He views his pastoral work as opening the gate and preaching the gospel. Through his new role he can also encourage the pastors of our Korean-Language churches to do likewise.
One of the final questions I asked Brian was, ‘What can Canadian churches learn from Korean churches?’ His response was “care and hospitality.” He encourages us to move away from individualism into genuine community. Why? After years of preaching, studying theology, and meditating, Brian has come to realize that it is our character and our love that people remember more than our sermons and our teaching. These qualities reflect who we are in Christ, and lead us to hospitably know and intentionally love the members of our churches. Each morning Brian and his wife, Jieun, pray that he will have sympathy and love for his sheep.
If you ever have the privilege of meeting him, you will know that indeed, he does.
Dr. Brian Byungsuk Kim serves at Vancouver Alive Church, Northwest Seminary, and Fellowship Pacific. He is married to Jieun, and has two sons and two daughters ranging from grade 3 to grade 12.