According to the Korean Seventh-day Adventist Church Association, Kansas City is the largest metropolitan city in the U.S. without a Korean Adventist presence. Estimates provided by the census bureau indicate there are more than 30,000 Asian people living in the Greater Kansas City area.
Harold Jung, associate pastor for a Korean group attending the New Haven Church in Overland Park, Kansas, has a vision to minister to this group and establish a Korean church. Himself a native of Korea, Jung attended Adventist schools, ultimately receiving a master’s degree in divinity from the Graduate School of Theology Sahmyook University in Seoul.
A third generation Adventist, his life goal was to be a pastor and share his love and passion for Jesus and the Adventist Church. Jung spent 10 months in China doing missionary work before coming to America.
“In Korea, many do not think Adventists are Christian. They have huge stereotypes. Hospitals and schools have helped change that,” Jung says. “Here, the Korean population is way behind. My goal is to overcome these stereotypes. We want to show the love of Jesus.”
In an effort to win friends among the Korean population, Jung has involved himself in the community, attending many Korean associations, joining the Korean community choir, distributing a calendar in the Korean language, advertising in the Kansas City Korean Journal and sponsoring a Sunday sports club for soccer, badminton and general exercise.
Recently, Jung conducted his first baptism. Hee Eun Yoon wanted to take Bible studies and join the church after her husband passed away. “Her goal is to see her husband again. The second coming is the answer,” Jung says.
Assisting Jung in this ministry is his wife, Joanne, whom he first encountered in Korea at a rather unusual meeting place for couples: a funeral. “Korean funerals are different, lasting three days,” Jung explains. “A friend of mine needed help with his father-in-law’s funeral. His wife brought a friend to assist, and that was Joanne.”
No matter the challenges, one will always see a big smile on Jung’s face. “I like this place, I like the people, I like what I do here, and on my to-do list aren’t things that I’m doing for myself. They are things for others, so when I get something done, that makes me happy.”
John Treolo is former communication director for the Kansas-Nebraska Conference.