How to Make a “Better Day” for Someone in Need : Interview with Woo Ho

Hello, Woo Ho!  Please introduce yourself to Crosswalk members!  How long have you been at IN2, and what do you do for work and leisure?

Hello!  I’ve been at IN2 for 5 years and attend the KM (Korean Ministry) service.  I am a user experience designer for smartphone apps. I like to travel and go on adventures (my favorite place to venture is Northern Europe; I loved Sweden and Norway).  Before I came to the U.S. for college, I lived in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Korea. I also like to hike, play tennis and badminton, and I love to eat great food!

 

Please introduce the Better Day Homeless Ministry ("Better Day") and how it works.

This ministry began in 2014.  Its main goal is to build relationships with the homeless in Manhattan.  

We meet every other Saturday, break up into teams, and walk around frequented areas in Manhattan neighborhoods (i.e., Grand Central Terminal, Times Square, Port Authority, and Bryant Park) to look for homeless individuals.  We provide the homeless with food and water, along with essential items such as aspirin, diapers, baby formula, shoes, socks, and underwear.  It’s important that we strike up conversations with them, so that we can pray for them and share the gospel.   

10 to 20% of the homeless we encounter are always found at the same spot.  So we let them know that we will come back, and we also provide them with Better Day's phone number so that they can reach us if needed.  

 

Why did you get involved with Better Day and what was your role?

Ever since I was young, I had a heart for the homeless and wanted to help those in need.

I have served in this ministry from 2014 to 2018.  I started out as a “team member” for 6 months, then served as the leader for 3 years.

 

What transition is Better Day going through?

Since 2014, members of KM (Korean ministry) have served in this ministry.  However, Crosswalk will now continue this ministry. We thought this transition makes sense because Crosswalk consists of English-speaking members who are rooted in NYC, and would not have language or cultural barriers when engaging with the homeless.

 

Are there any memorable individuals that Better Day has befriended and helped?

There was an older homeless couple, Bill and Gina.**  Gina was recovering from cancer and needed to take medication but did not have money or insurance.  Better Day members came out to meet with this couple, not just during the scheduled Saturdays, but also during the week in order to offer support, and the members obtained funding from our church to pay for Gina’s medication.  It was great to see the ministry members work for a common cause and become closer together through that cause.

**Names have been changed.

 

What do you think is the biggest challenge of serving in this ministry?

It is always a challenge to start conversations with the homeless.  It is difficult for both the ministry members and the homeless to open up their hearts to each other.  Not everyone is receptive to us. In those moments I realize that there is nothing we can do but to pray and leave it to God to work among us.

 

How have you changed as a person from serving in Better Day?

My perspective on the homeless has changed.  Before serving in this ministry, I viewed the homeless as people who are completely different from me.  But I realized they are just regular people like you and me. It is pompous to think that the homeless are just lazy.  I have learned that people become homeless for a multitude of reasons: some have physical or mental issues; and some have witnessed murders being committed in homeless shelters, thus they find it safer to sleep out on the streets.

Some people are homeless simply because they are going through transitions in their lives.  For example, we got to know two homeless men in their late twenties (who happened to be friends).  They had lost their jobs before becoming homeless. In less than 1 year since we began meeting with them, we saw these men rise from their homeless state to finding jobs and housing.  They later called us at Better Day's phone number to share the good news, and we couldn’t be happier for them.

Hearing the stories of the homeless was always eye-opening and moving.  They helped me to reflect on how much God has blessed me.  My view on people, life, and New York City has broadened through this ministry and I have become more mature.  Serving in this ministry has helped me to feel the heart of God for this city.

 

If you happen to be an introvert and find it difficult to strike up conversations with strangers, can you still serve in this ministry?

Yes, of course!  We always need people to take pictures or write down notes about the conversations with the homeless.  We also need people to help prepare goodie bags that we provide to the homeless. There is something for everyone in this ministry.  I encourage everyone to volunteer even just once to get the experience!

 

--Interviewed by Ian Park

[Interview] The Night Shift

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Meet James and Kevin -- the night shifters in our congregation.  When most of us are sleeping or resting, these men are most active at their jobs.  We took this opportunity to get to know James and Kevin and about their work, and how working the night shift affects their relationship with God, perspectives, and attitudes.  Read on and find out!

Basic Stats:

James (right):  Urban Park Ranger for the City of New York.  Stationed at Hudson River Park in downtown Manhattan.  Works from 12 AM to 8:30 AM, 5 days a week.  Tasks involve patrolling the park (via car, bike, or walking), making sure people exit the park after a certain time, and arresting dangerous people inside the park.  What helps him to stay awake?  Caffeine!

Kevin (left):  Pharmacist at the New York Presbyterian Cornell Medical Center in Upper East Side, Manhattan.  Works from 9 PM to 7 AM, 4 days a week.  Tasks involve dispensing medicine for hospital patients, making sure there are no issues with doctors’ prescription orders, and rotating through different departments within the hospital.  What helps him to stay awake?  Sleeping during breaks.  

 

1) What led you to having this night shift job?

James:  For a long time, it’s been my goal to pursue a career with the NYC Police Department. You need to take an exam to join the NYPD; however, at the time I was looking for a job in law enforcement, the NYPD did not offer their exams.  I ended up taking another exam and became a Park Ranger.  Initially it was not my choice to work the night shift; my captain assigned me this night shift.  But as time went by I realized that I actually enjoy working the night shift, so now, although I can put in a request to work a different shift, it’s my choice to continue working the night shift.

Kevin:  Before my current job I had a per diem position that did not offer much benefits.  While in the midst of my quest to find a more stable job, I found out that someone I knew was leaving his position -- and that’s the position I ended up filling.  

 

2) How has working the night shift changed your relationship with God?

James:  The night shift has brought me closer to God.  There is a lot of down time during my night shift, which leads me to think more about God.  As I look up at the sky and gaze at the beautiful Manhattan skyline, and I’m surrounded by trees and water inside the empty park, I can’t help but appreciate the beauty of God’s creation.  The down time also allows me to read the Bible more.  

Kevin:  Although my job has its challenges, I’m grateful of where I am.  Some of my peers are still struggling to find a stable job.  So I’m grateful.  And having this heart of gratitude makes me feel closer to God.

 

3) How has working the night shift changed your perspective on life or work?

James:  The night shift has led me to be closer to people.  Because I’m inside an empty park all night long, I’m inevitably surrounded by loneliness and darkness for many hours.  When the sun comes up and people start to re-enter the park, I find myself feeling happy to be around people again.

Kevin:  I now work with a bigger picture in mind.  Before obtaining my pharmacist license, I worked as an intern at my hospital.  At that time I worked only during the day and I didn’t know how the hospital operated at night.  Now that I work the night shift, I see how people’s work during both the day and night shifts connect.  Seeing how the pieces come together has made me more aware in my job.  

 

4) Are there thoughts that often cross your mind as you work the night shift?

James:  I think a lot about God.  I also think about my family -- whether my family is resting well and whether they had a good day.  I also reflect about life and the beauties of the nature that surrounds me.  Overall I try to think positive thoughts.  Thinking about these things have a humbling effect on me and causes me to become more grateful.   In my previous job, I was so busy that I never really thought about anything.  Thinking and reflecting a lot through this night shift job has helped me to change and grow much as a person.

Kevin:  I often think back on the days when I was still in pharmacy school, trying to get through school, and taking exams to obtain my license.  I think about how hard and stressful that season was.  Thinking about the past helps me to appreciate my current work and where I am right now.

 

5) Was there any experience when you especially felt God’s presence during your night shift?

James:  Most of the interactions I have with people during the course of my job are not positive interactions; sometimes those interactions can lead to arrests or dangerous situations.  But 100% of those potentially negative situations have turned out well.  And I know that was because of God protecting me.  There was one time when I was very close to getting into an accident with another vehicle.  But God strongly protected me that time, too, and I was unharmed.

Kevin:  There are nights when everything is rushed and people are on high alert, for example, when patients “crash” (patients are close to dying).  I remember such night happened shortly after I began working.  In those rushed moments I don’t think I was particularly aware of much else, but when I look back, God’s presence was always there.  I realize that God had provided me with the strength to get through all those difficult nights.

 

6) What do you hope to achieve through your job?

James:  I hope to learn a great deal in my current position, so that when the opportunity opens up for me to join the NYPD in the future, I will be ready.  Park rangers and police officers perform very similar tasks, so the work I do now will serve as a helpful stepping stone to my future goal.  But, I do love my current job and I’m certainly not in a rush to leave it.

Kevin:  Because I rotate through different departments every night (cardiology, neurology, ICU, ER, pediatrics, etc.), I am exposed to various practices.  So I hope to strengthen my experience in these practices so that in the future, I will have the requisite experience and background for whatever specialty I choose.  I also hope to be a good mentor for incoming pharmacists.

 

7) Any prayer requests?

James:  To be nicer to people, be a better Christian, and to always have positive thoughts.

Kevin:  To have more thoughts of God and be a more committed person.

 

----

Interviewed by Ian Park

The Waiting Ark

Patience comprises a big part of the story of Noah’s ark.  Noah’s waiting period lasted much longer than the dramatic flood itself.  While the flood lasted 40 days (a little over 1 month), the waiting period lasted approximately 10 months.  Noah sent out a dove 3 times (within a 3-week span) before he could confirm that the floodwaters had finally receded and it was safe for him, his family, and all the living creatures to leave the ark.

During those 10 months, Noah must have felt many different emotions, but especially the desire to leave the ark.  He probably felt extremely claustrophobic living inside the ark with his family and all the animals.  And sometimes, especially on the quieter days, Noah may have thought God had forgotten about him.

Can you imagine Noah’s hope and anticipation as he sent the dove out, and as each day passed and he didn’t see the dove, his growing excitement that maybe he will -- finally! -- be able to leave the ark?  And can you imagine the disappointment and sadness that Noah must have felt when he saw the dove flying back to him?  Yet, Noah holds out his hand to draw the dove back into the ark; there is no mention about Noah grumbling or complaining.  He simply continues to wait.  Noah’s faith is submissive and beautiful.

Meanwhile, while Noah waited, God was actively working -- making the floodwaters recede and preparing the earth for Noah, his family, and the living creatures to live in again.  The Bible says that God remembered Noah (and all the wild animals) in the ark (Genesis 8:1).

Noah’s ark reminds me of the practice of waiting, which is always difficult.  We all have things that we are praying for God to provide.  Sometimes we can feel stuck like Noah inside the ark, not being able to do anything but sit still and wait for God to open the door.  

The receding floodwaters remind me of all the things in our hearts that need to slowly recede as we wait for God to provide.  Perhaps our pride, idolatry, or greed; our sense of entitlement; or our crooked thinking that we know better than God.   This process will take time; I don’t think there is a shortcut to making the floodwaters recede.  But through this process God humbles us.  And we will realize the waiting period itself is already a gift because this is when we can be closest to God.

--

Ian Park
with illustration by Karam Byun

 

[Interview] Get to Know… Hannah and Michael!

We have newlyweds in our midst!  Hannah and Michael got married on July 16, 2016.  To celebrate their exciting new season, we interviewed the couple to get their thoughts on love, marriage, dating, and experiencing God through their relationship.  Read on and find out!  (Note:  To encourage candor, we interviewed Hannah and Michael separately for this interview.)

Q:  Before you married, was there a particular thing your now-spouse did or said that made you think, “Ah! This is the person I want to marry”?

Hannah:  It was a combination of things.  Before I met Michael, I already knew what type of person I was looking for – someone who was:  1) a Christ believer and follower; 2) mutually interested in me as I am in him; and 3) a believer in abstinence until marriage.  About three months into dating Michael, I realized that he was all of these things, so I knew he was the right person for me.  

I must admit that these three “conditions” were not always my ideals.  I did not always look for a Christian man.  As a believer of Christ, I knew that this was not right.  But for some reason, I did not feel any attraction or interest towards Christian men.  Maybe my heart was immature or I was not ready for a strong relationship.  Ultimately, I learned the hard way that the things I wanted and needed would not be found in the value system of a non-believer.  

Michael:  It was through meeting Hannah’s parents for the first time in Ohio for Thanksgiving.  I know that for many people, relationship with their in-laws can be a tricky and difficult thing.  But I found myself truly liking Hannah’s parents and had this desire to know them more and spend time with them.  I felt peace in my heart as I spent time with Hannah’s parents that day, and knew that this was the family I wish to marry into.  On that day, I asked Hannah’s parents for her hand in marriage.

Q:  What new things about God have you learned through knowing each other?

Hannah:  I’m learning about what it means to sacrifice.  A bad habit of mine is to often think 50-50 in relationships – each person should equally give 50% in terms of support and contribution.  But 50-50 is not sacrifice. My uncle told me that in a marriage, your guideline should be more like 80-80; always do more than your allotted responsibility.  And I realize that he is right.  If 50-50 is your guideline in your marriage, it would not work.  Everyday you would become so easily irritated, thinking about what your spouse owes you in return for what you’ve done.  

Michael is the complete opposite of me.  He is never for 50-50 or even for 80-80.  For him, it is always 100%.  And he truly enjoys serving in this way.  For example, Michael would be glad to cook dinner for me, doing everything from start to finish.  (Me?  I would want to clean and cook together.)  This is a trait about Michael that I admire and aspire to acquire myself.

Michael:  I’ve learned that God is an amazing creator.  His skills in creation are extremely clever, calculated, and detailed.  When I see Hannah, I realize that she was created just for me, and God knew exactly what I needed in a spouse.  This amazes me.

Q:  How has God changed your character through meeting your spouse?

Hannah:  I learned to trust in God again.  My journey to marriage was difficult and painful.  For a long time I thought that I was forgotten – by God and by people – and I lost my trust in God in this area of dating/marriage, which was filled with doubt.  So marriage is a huge answered prayer.  Should another big challenge enter my life again, I know I will always look back on my journey to marriage and remember God’s trustworthiness.     

Michael:  I am learning to become a gentler and more caring person, and being softer in my words and action.  When I first met Hannah’s mom, she told me that Hannah has a very gentle, caring, and innocent heart and that she has a childlike faith.  Upon marrying Hannah, I realized this is true.  So I learned that if I want to meet Hannah’s needs and connect with her, I need to speak and treat her in a gentler way and care for her in a different way than I do for all other people.

Q:  What kind of husband/wife do you hope to become?

Hannah:  I wish I can be like the woman described in Proverbs 31 – one who is never idle and works so hard at life.  But the day-to-day life is often so tiring that I find myself wanting to just relax.  My tendency to be too laid back also does not help.  So I know I have a long way to becoming the type of woman described in Proverbs 31, but someday I hope to reach that goal.

Michael:  I wish to become a spiritual leader who stands with God in times of difficulty.  At the same time, I want to become a person who is able to show my weaknesses, and not just my strengths.  Most of all, I want to be a good husband for Hannah -- someone who has a lot of patience of the other person’s flaws and keeps love in the center while being understanding of our sinful natures.

Q:  What advice do you have for singles who are hoping to also walk down the aisle one day?

Hannah:  I want to preface my advice by saying that when I was single, so many engaged or married people told me to just trust in God and it infuriated me.  I heard the same things over and over.  A recently engaged friend once told me, “Your heart needs to be right with God.”  This angered me.  “How do you know my heart?” I would think.  So I know the frustrations of receiving what seems like cliché Christian advice.  

But when I think back, I believe my friend was right.  My heart wasn’t in the right place.  I didn’t submit to God’s plan; I wanted to do it my way.  (However, I don’t think her advice necessarily applies to everyone because nobody is perfect and our sinful hearts won’t always be right with God.)  

My advice is to enjoy being single because there are things that you can do as a single person that you cannot do as a married person.  Find things that make you feel happy and alive because the waiting and praying for marriage does get tiring.  But the waiting is a fertilizing time.  God will provide you with the energy you need to enjoy singlehood.  During my season of waiting, I prayed for a good Christian community around me, and God provided in my need.    

Michael:  Pastor Sam gave me good advice, which I have applied and wish to relay:  Focus on the one characteristic that you’re looking for and everything else will follow.  Inevitably, to follow this advice, I needed to rearrange my priorities and get rid of my laundry list of what I wanted in a potential spouse.  I knew that I wanted to live a missionary life for God – whether in New York City, another state, or abroad.  So I looked for someone sharing this vision.  

I also want to advise against “missionary dating” (dating a non-Christian when you’re a Christian) because doing so can set you up for a big disappointment.  I learned this the hard way.   

Never give up trying to meet the right (Christian) person for you.  I know that dating life in New York is very hard.   I always thought that coming to New York was the hardest decision of my life, but also the best decision of my life.  It felt right when I got here.  But I didn’t fit the mold of New York girls’ preference.   I often thought, “How can I compete with these successful career guys living in New York?”  There were times I wondered whether I should return to California where I came from, where it would have been easier to find a mate.  But God kept me here in New York, and through the disappointments I experienced, He strengthened my desire for His love and renewed my trust in Him.  

Keep trying, remembering that you are one step closer to meeting the right person.

Q:  What are some short-term and long-term goals you wish to accomplish as a married couple?

Hannah:  Our goals include raising a family, buying a home, and becoming involved in missions work.  But we’re not sure where we will accomplish these goals.  Michael is from California and I am from Ohio; our respective families are in those states.  So we’re not sure whether we will stay here in New York or move to Ohio or California.  We’re waiting for directions from God as to geography.   

Michael:  Short-term goal is to figure out where we want to spend the holidays:  Ohio, where Hannah’s family lives; or California, where my family lives.  Long-term goal is to go where God leads us.  We know we want to raise a family, but we don’t know whether God wants us to stay in New York or go to Ohio, California, or another country.  We are waiting on God’s timing.

My goal is to always be in the Word.  I realize that because of our sinful nature, marriage can bring out a lot of our weaknesses.  Only if you’re in the Word can you be stronger as a married couple to be able to accomplish your goals together.

--Interviewed by Ian Park