Interviewed by : Daniel Lee &
Photographed by : Daniel Lee
Location : Cafe de Cupping
Strap on those seat-belts, Ann Kim is in the house! Growing up in the Puerto Rican neighborhood of Woodside, she was the only Asian on the block and begrudgingly wrote in her Korean-English diary every night (that’s why her Korean is so good). Passionate about missions, coffee, and teeth, she’s most likely to incorporate the importance of tooth hygiene and caffeine into a Gospel illustration.
An avid music listener whose taste don’t discriminate, she’s a fan of everything from jazz and classical to Bollywood and K-Pop. Guys, she’s obviously great road trip buddy material. She’s even pretty well-versed with podcasts like ‘This American Life’ and ‘Stuff You Should Know.’ Say goodbye to aux cord wars.
Read on to learn about her big heart for outreach, bits of no-nonsense wisdom, and fun facts. Then, take her out for some sushi and ask how her grad school applications are going.
David: How did you come to Crystal?
Ann: My friends, Helen, Narae, and Michelle. My friends all attend this church and they knew that the church plant I was attending had fallen apart. And instead of church hopping, why don’t I check out their church. And they were like, ‘You know who’s here? Jisoo.’ And I was like, ‘JPM Jisoo? OMG I’m coming.’ So I came and I asked why he’s not leading praise. [Everyone laughs] The craziest part is Pastor Andy was leading worship and I went to school with him and I didn’t know he could sing or attend the church. That was kind of a bummer but he [Jisoo] did lead prayer nights. That was awesome.
Daniel: What’s the best gift that you‘ve received?
Ann: I think my iPod. It has the craziest battery life. I would check it a month later and the battery is the way it was. I got it in 2010? ‘09? And it still works perfectly fine. I listen to a lot of music. Literally the only time I’m not listening to my own personal music is when I’m at work because they have a radio playing. But there was a time when I thought I had a problem.
Daniel: Because you like music so much?
Ann: Yeah. Everywhere I go, there’s music. I go to the bathroom, there’s music. In my room, there’s music. I go to the kitchen, there’s music. It’s always playing. There’s never silence. There was a point where I really thought I might have a problem with not being able to deal with silence. I loved music so much that I needed to be around it all the time. You can never have enough music and there’s so much to listen to before you die. You’ll never get to hear everything.
Daniel: How has the mission trip shifted your life or the way you see things?
Ann: This was my first time in Haiti. First time I went - our church used to do a Dominican Republic/Haiti trip, but now it’s just Haiti. I decided to go because it’s another way to serve. It’s not like I had a deep yearning for missions. This was just another opportunity to serve so why not go? DR was a lot easier, less humid, less hot. I could speak some Spanish so I was able to talk to some locals, but Haiti was pretty tough. But I think maybe God just put a heart for Haiti, for the people, and the land. When I came back, I told Pastor Dongsung how it would be awesome if we just went to Haiti for a week and forget DR. And the missionary that we worked with stopped going to DR and now he just does Cuba with our church. Pastor Dongsung said he had some good news for me, and said there’s no missions trips to Dr anymore, it’s just going to be Haiti. Heejung said my prayers came true. It was amazing.
Ever since then, that is one thing I look forward to in the year. I use my vacation days to go to missions. I don’t think I’ve ever once thought that it was a waste. I can’t wait to go.
When we went to Haiti last year, it was our first time on an island off of the mainland. We had a small team, smaller than this year. It was amazing, the missionary that we met and the kids that we worked with.
After I came back from that trip, as I was processing and digesting what happened and what God’s been teaching me throughout the mission trip, He put this thing in my heart to not go short term, but long term. And in the beginning, I honestly was very against it. Why was He giving me this heart? I didn’t want to leave New York, as much as I liked going. Long term is a different story so I was very uncomfortable. It’s not like the Lord is going to force me to do something. The fact that that conviction was constantly there, I didn’t feel comfortable. I wanted Him to remove this.
After much thought and much prayer, He gave me peace about it. I don’t know where it's going to be, I don’t know when it’s going to be, after I have kids, after I get married, it could be with the entire family. It could be at any point in my life. I don’t have to worry about finances or where it’s going to be. So I think that was a miracle because at one point that was my obsession. Every time I prayed, I said I don’t want to go. But now, I can’t wait to see where, when, and I’m ready to leave.
Last year, we had a speaker who had a prophetic gift. One of the prayers he prayed over me was- you’re surrounded by all these children. I can’t tell what country but you’re so happy, they’re happy and I don’t know what country or when, but it will happen. Pastor Andy was there becase we prayed together. I’m a skeptical person. When people tell me things, i'm just like.. ‘Really? I’ll see.’ So when the pastor was saying.. just because he says something it doesn’t mean he’s a fortune teller. It's not exactly how it turns out but it’s here and there, and it could come in split parts. So even as he was saying that, I was like- oh he can not know these things about me unless the Lord really said something. I was going back and forth, although I was amazed that some of the things he said but yeah, when he mentioned the whole missions, that was also when it really helped with coming to peace and coming to terms with accepting all of it. I shared with him that I wanted to go on missions long term.
David: This is very weird for me because I know Ann very well.
Ann: He (David) knew me before I met Christ [all laugh]. He’s seen me through different seasons and stages of my life. We went to our first mission trip together 2-3 years ago to DR and Haiti. I remember we were in a small group together and he shared something like “I knew Ann before she met Christ and look at what God did. If he could do this, He is so capable.’ [David laughs] There was a sister from the KM there and she didn’t know me so afterwards I said, ‘Why would you say something like that! She’s going to think I was a crazy person.’
Daniel: So how did you come to Christ? What was that first moment like?
Ann: I don’t think it was like a moment. You know how some people have like crazy experiences -- dreams or whatever it is. I think with me it was like gradual. He was changing me little by little everyday, like the song. He was breaking things down, all the lies that were spoken into my life. I eventually found identity in Christ; without that I would not be here. Both pastors [Pastor Jiwook and Pastor Yung] played a really big role. I’ve never had a pastor literally walk with me every step of the way. For like a good year or two, they met with me like every week. God bless. They would just tell me things and I’d be like ‘Nope. [Everyone laughs]. It applies to everyone else, but not to me.’ It was a lot of speaking truths. But you know, I feel like when you’re not ready. You could tell a nonbeliever that Jesus is Lord and whatever but if they’re not gonna believe it, they’re not gonna believe it. You could hammer it in all you want, but there comes a moment where it clicks.
So with me, I feel like it was just their love and investment and literally walking [with me]. I was literally like a stupid sheep just wandering around. And they’re calling me, trying to walk with me, and I’m just like ‘No, I’m gonna go that way.’ I never could understand why they were so interested in me. They could’ve just been like ‘No forget this. I can’t do it anymore,’ but I feel like their persistence, them not giving up… There were a lot of moments where I was like ‘Jesus? [All laugh] Is that You?’ [All laugh]. I was so shocked by their commitment to me. They didn’t have to do anything, this was all voluntary. The patience, how they think, and how they behave - there were really moments where I was like “Oh my God, I think Jesus is here in the flesh.’ Not saying they’re Jesus.
I think honestly, maybe I would’ve met Christ eventually, but it definitely wouldn’t have been in that timing. I think that was just a big thing for me, having someone walk with me every step of the way and not giving up. I don’t think I’ve had any other pastor invest so much into my life. I don’t know if you’ve had pastors invest like that in your previous church. I was close with my pastors but not like to this extent.
David: Pastor Jiwook and Pastor Yung Rok take ministry to the next level for sure. They do far more than any other pastor I’ve ever seen. So would you say that - because you’re doing ministry now - would you say that how they ministered to you, that reflects how you minister to your girls now?
Ann: Maybe it does reflect but because I’ve been loved and received a lot of grace and mercy, I thinking I’m able to show it too. Especially when you're working with difficult people, people ask how you deal with that person or this person. I think you learn how to look beyond behavior and the exterior. If I hadn’t received grace, I wouldn’t have been able to do the same. So yeah, I guess in a way, it probably reflects. And you don’t know how many times I’ve heard that I sound like Jundo. Well, I am his sheep and he is my shepherd.
David: So Ann, when I see you, during these past two years or so, I see a missionary. When did you find your calling for it? Was it during the prayer with Jeff? Or when you went to Haiti?
Ann: I think after our trip together, there was a heart for Haiti. Pastor Benny prayed for me to and their prayer wasn’t like you’re going to go to missions but one of the prayers he prayed for me was God is going to ask you to do something crazy, when he does don’t hesitate and obey. He just wants me to let you know that you just need to trust him. When this time comes, people are going to come up to you and say that you are crazy. And I was like “What is it?”
and he said, “again I can’t tell you that or know that” you need to pray about it. And at that point I think I was a little obsessed like, what could it be? I don’t want to be called crazy. And then when God gave me the heart for long term I was like is this what he was talking about? And at that point I’m not sure if it really was because I’m just trying to make everything the ‘crazy’ thing, because I just want that crazy thing to be done and over with. And then when Pastor Jeff did the prophetic prayer I was like, ‘oh my God, maybe this is the crazy thing.’ But it wasn’t the missional thing, Pastor Jeff didn’t only pray about that, he prayed about many other things, it just happened to be one of the prayers he prayed over. And then I was just obsessed if this was the crazy thing or if that was the crazy thing. But I got peace through lots of prayer. And I think once I got the prophetic prayer I was like you know what, don’t go crazy, I don’t even know when it’s going to happen, I can be fifty or sixty, I can be one of the kwansanneems, I can be double c when I go there. It might be after I retire, it might be when I’m younger. I remember when I first told Kristen, she was like ‘No. Don’t even think about it.’ And I was like ‘Well don’t get too close, don’t get too attached’ [laughs]. And she was like, ‘I think it’s a little too late for that,’ and I was like ‘You can start now.’
David: So you can now that you’re more than willing?
Ann: I’m ready. You know I say crazy things like. ‘Lord send me a missionary’ so I can just get married to him and you know kill two birds with one stone. You know, we’ll have a family and I can be on missions for the rest of my life. And then I started to think like, maybe I don’t need to marry one and I can just become one. But that’s just like crazy. And my parents are like another mountain. They’re already stressed out because I’m going into social work. And my dad will never let that go.
David: So how did social work come about?
Ann: When people ask me they want a definite reason like what is the reason. Why social work? You can help people in so many different ways. And I’m sorry, I can’t give you a concrete answer. And other people say I might have been influenced by Jiwook, but he’s never pushed it upon me, we never talk about work, I never ask him about work. If anything, when I first brought it up to him, he was very supportive. Because he has a lot of resources he was more than willing to help, but he never once talked about it, I’m not familiar with his everyday work. I’ve never really been exposed. So I think when people say he had an influence in my decision, I think that’s a little like you know --again, he never talked about it, he is in the field and in that occupation but when we talk it’s never about work. So when I talk about it people say it’s definitely him, and when I talk about counseling people say it’s definitely Yung Rok. She wants to do either counseling or social work because they’re both in her life. But I don’t think that’s correct either.
David: When I see you, I see both counselor and social worker because that’s just so you.
Ann: I think in social work you can do both but in counseling you’re limited to just that.
David: So We all know that you love the missions and wanting to be a missionary, what would you say to the readers that are on the fence on going to missions, people that can’t get themselves to go.
Ann: I don’t know if people have been paying attention but you know when we do the mission concerts, watch the videos, and msn speaks on missions. I think it’s simple. As Christians, we’re called to missions, it’s just like any other commandment.
We’re called to love others, we’re called to love the Lord, we’re called to live blamelessly as much as we can. I think Pastor Yung shared this in one of his messages and it might also be during one of our one on ones, he finds it really interesting when people come up to him and they tell him they don’t know what to do with their lives and they don’t know what God wants them to do, and it might be because some people are looking to be told they what to be. And he’s like the thing is people don’t think twice when they decide to buy a new car or buy a new macbook , when it’s something you want and it’s convenient for you. And when people ask him these questions his answer is, it’s all in the word, love others, love the Lord, spread the Gospel. And people ask me too when I ask for donations for my missions trip, they ask me why do I want to go on missions, I want to know why. And I say well I just want to serve and they say you can serve anywhere else ,why Haiti? I don’t know what kind of answer you want from me. Like some crazy story that God but this feeling in my heart. It’s just a different opportunity for me to serve in a different place, different country. I think from then on I don’t even think twice about going to mission because it’s something we’re called to do. You know from experience like once you’re there it’s never the same. And I think it’s like you don’t question why, you start to question when. So I think when it comes down to real things like our faith, we become so hesitant and we want facts, and we want to know the exact reason why, but why do we need reasons to change our car or our phone just like Pastor Yung said. I think he said that pretty well and clear for people to understand and I completely agree with him. And msn says it every year, we as believers are called to go on missions. And for the people that are physically unable to go, he says either be a goer or a sender, if you’re in between you’re doing something wrong. And sending off doesn’t always mean money, you can devote yourself to real prayer. And when I was speaking with David and he was sharing his testimony in going to China and the slogan for Cru, the team he’s going with, it’s like be a person that goes out, be a person that sends out, or disobey. And it doesn’t mean you have to go overseas, you can be missionaries in your workplace, on the street, amongst our friends. I’m sure many of us have family members or friends that are nonbelievers. So for the people that are hesitant, just go and you will fall in love.
David: If you were called to go to missions forever, what would you take with you?
Ann: I don’t need my phone because it doesn’t even work. I don’t even use my phone when I’m here. Some kind of musical device, like iPod or something to play music. Gold Bond body powder. It’s so humid that like even after you shower, you’re drenched. It can’t be any type of powder. It has to be Gold Bond and I bought the yellow one which works perfectly fine. But like, this other person bought this green one that has an upgraded version of menthol in there, and it burns, but it has this cooling sensation, so you’re dry, which is amazing. You’re not itchy and there’s no rashes, and you just feel so much cooler, like your body temperature goes down. In our mosquito tents, there’s powder everywhere. We’re white all the time,but we don’t care, because that feels so much better than feeling wet.