Seoul Searching, Part 1

In the Spring of 2013, I began to acutely feel the pull to go to the nations, specifically Korea. The craving for Korea was so deep, I began devouring Korean Dramas–which I had previously never had an interest in. I would lose sleep some nights just to finish watching a drama. I thought I was totally backsliding. I should be doing an in-depth exegesis on the book of Revelation, not analyzing and weeping over Queen Seondeok’s decision to surrender the love of her life in service to her country and her royal duty!

And yet, I heard God say, “Janet, I want to spend time with you in this way as well. Relax.”

Watching the dramas really began unlocking something in my heart and deepening my love and appreciation for Korean culture, history, language, the entertainment industry, and Korea’s celebrities. I’d always loved Korea, had lived there for a spell in my early twenties, but this was on a different level. I began to intercede for specific celebrities and for the Korean entertainment industry overall.

It was also during the Fall of that same year, while praying about my church’s first school of worship (I served as leader of our Creative Arts Ministry, which was under the worship ministry), that the Lord showed me a forest of evergreen trees and then our worship school manual with the words “Evergreen Worship Center” on the cover. He gave me several verses about evergreen trees and about worship. I knew all this was significant, although I didn’t fully understand. So I tucked these things away into my heart.

By 2014, after a mission trip to India with a stopover in Korea, the desire to be a full-time missionary had become unavoidable–like a nail stuck in your head or a constant itch in your heart. It was a pretty revelatory moment for me, similar to Clueless when Cher (Alicia Silverstone) realizes, “Oh my gosh. love Josh!” It happened exactly like that as a matter of fact. Walking around the grounds of my Beverly Hills mansion, I stopped next to the fountain, the lights came on, the angels sang hallelujah, uh-huh, yup exactly.

When I shared my epic epiphany with my parents (who had been missionaries to China/North Korea but now living in South Korea), they were like, “Well…yeah, of course. Glad you finally realized.” -__- Lol. Oh my parents. They know everything and yet are so patient with me.

 

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India 2014
hongdaestreetedited A well-traveled alleyway in Hongdae

While on the subway to Hongdae, a lady, probably in her 50s, walked onto the subway car; there were about 50 other passengers. She had tracks and immediately began preaching and sharing the gospel–in the most monotone and droning voice ever and all the while with an expression on her face that could’ve out-zombied a real zombie.

I looked around the car; nobody was paying attention. Most had a similar non-expressive & bored countenance. My heart broke as this thought ran through my mind: “Dang. If I weren’t a Christian, I probably would never want to be one if being a Christian meant having a joylessness to my spirit like this woman’s voice.” My heart hurt for her, as much as my head did from the heaviness I began to feel from the droning. She was so sincere, so inwardly passionate and yet that passion was getting so lost in the expression. I asked the Lord, “What’s up with that?”

He shared with me that the heaviness is just a yoke of religiosity and a works, performance-driven mentality, but that He wants to break that off by personally revealing Himself as a good Father who knows us intimately; by revealing that there is so much more than just religion–there is real, vibrant relationship with the Living God! I continued to mull this over as I silently blessed the woman and later got off at my stop.

As I was prayerwalking the streets of Hongdae that day, January 14, the Lord told me that He didn’t want me to start another traditional church in Korea, but establish something outside the box of what is considered normal ministry. He then began speaking to me about building an arts boutique cafe:  a safe and vibrant space rooted in Presence and Worship that would serve the community and also infuse His life into the area; a place where people could organically and powerfully encounter the love and realness of God the Creator, God the Father.

I was pretty stoked by this. I returned to California and shared these insights with my pastors, who began praying weekly for me and Korea.

In March of 2016, one of our church pastors, Yuree, shared with me a vision God had given her the day before while the pastors were praying for me and Korea. She saw a “really tall evergreen tree” and felt that it was about building a strong foundation that will be lasting. She saw “cement bottom blocks being placed for a foundation” and believed that whatever I start will be lasting. I had never shared with Pastor Yuree about the original vision God had given me in 2013 regarding evergreen trees and worship.

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We can’t make this stuff up! Seriously!

Her sharing with me was timely because earlier that morning, while waiting on the Lord regarding Korea, I had seen a cabin nestled among snow covered mountains and vibrant evergreen trees. The cabins then began multiplying, and soon there was a whole village with lights that lit up that entire area; I heard, “a city on a hill cannot be hidden.”

I was bowled over by how God was encouraging and confirming this move to Korea, and it also gave me clarity that worship and house of prayer would be integral (since the first time God gave me the word about evergreen was connected with school of worship).

Fast forward a couple months. By this time, the pastors, church board and I had decided to commission me sometime in January as a missionary to Asia. One morning, May 2 to be exact, my pastor, Ryan L., received an email from a Linda D. in Oregon who had been interceding for South Korea and the arts/entertainment industry there since the Summer of 2015 after a simple prayer, “God, enlarge my territory.”

In the email Linda detailed how God had put Asia onto her path after she, a retired 67-year old, prayed, “God, my world feels too small. Enlarge my territory.” During one of a prayer times, God had given her a vision of an outreach in Seoul, South Korea “in one of the districts there called Hongdae.” She said she saw herself perhaps going to Korea with a team in the Fall, and were there any upcoming trips that she might be able to join?

Long story short, Linda flew down the next week to meet me and my pastors, and we hit it off. Turns out that the vision God had given her of the outreach in Hongdae was an arts cafe, and–it gets better–He had given her this vision on January 15, 2016. That was just one day after He told me about an arts cafe while I had been prayerwalking the very streets of Hongdae. Talk about confirmation! Seriously cannot make this stuff up!

Linda eventually did join me and a team from Blessed International on a mission trip to S. Korea in October 2016 (it was the last leg of a 3-nation mission to Vietnam, Malaysia, Korea).

There were a lot of beautiful, divine & fun things that happened during that trip…and even before it! which I will share about in a following blog post.

This is really just a nutshell version of all that’s happened thus far…and to be quite honest, I’m still processing so much of the past year(s), and there’s so much that is still beyond my understanding. But I’m learning to let go of control and fear.

One thing I’m sure of:  when we embark in faith & faithfully on a word, a dream, a promise in the heart of God that He’s put into ours, it is always an adventure beyond our imagining. And He will never let us d(r)own.

Stay tuned for more…

Love you all. God bless you.

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