Exploring the company we keep at UCI and beyond

Roller derby girls. God Without Religion. Harry Potter enthusiasts (fanatics?). These are a small sampling of the groups and organizations that have formed at the University of California, Irvine (UCI) and around Orange County. Members share a devotion to their cause and a desire to pursue it in collaboration with others, which are the subjects we examine in this blog.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Korean Campus Crusade For Christ : The Light of Christ on UCI campus

By Michael Kim

It is a warm sunny day and UC Irvine’s campus is full of activity. There are bake sales and barbeque sales occupying all over campus hoping to raise some money for their organization that they are part of. One of the stands represents KCCC, which stands for Korean Campus Crusade for Christ, who are hoping to make some money through their Korean barbeque sale to support their Christian club on UCI campus. Unlike any other clubs on campus, KCCC members have a dedicated and even hardcore mindset that tells them that their main objective and goal as a Christian student is to spread the message of the gospel throughout UCI campus. Hoon sung, one of the club members says “We want the students to know that God is not a made up fantasy. We want to reveal the existence of God through the message of the gospels and our prayers. Our ultimate goal is to create Christian revival on campus.”

Unique History
Korean Campus Crusade for Christ is a campus Christian club/organization that functions very similar to a regular Christian church that people go to on Sundays. KCCC has come a long way since the program started in 1958 by Joon Gon Kim. According to the www.kccc.usa.com and the staff members of the UCI KCCC members, Christian Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) was originally founded by Bill and Vonett Bright at University of California Los Angeles. A young man named Joon Gon Kim who was a UCLA student at the time, met Bill Bright and Joon was inspired by Bill Bright vision of training and sending college students to share Jesus Christ when they graduate from college. Eventually Joon goes back to South Korea and starts the first oversea branch of CCC.

Birth of KCCC.
America had a lot of Campus Crusade for Christ clubs working on college campuses in the 70s but back then it didn’t do well on reaching out to international students on their campuses. Therefore, In the 70s, the members of the CCC in South Korea saw the need on US campuses to reach the cross cultural group of Korean Americans and international students. In 1982, Yong Won Kang, a CCC member, starts a non-profit organization called Korean CCC in America. They held conferences which were attended by thousands of college students. However, KCCC in America was mostly happening in the Northeast of the United States. So thousands of miles away in California, another CCC member named Don Whan kim, started campus movements targeting Korean American students in California Universities. One by one Korean Campus Crusade for Christ members began to form Christian Clubs on College Campuses in California. Today, there are 25 colleges with KCCC in California but these are the UC schools with KCCC: UCLA, University of California San Diego, University of California Santa Barbara, University of California Davis, University of California Riverside, University of California Berkeley, and UC Irvine. Their mission and goal stated on Bill Brights Campus Crusade for Christ: The renewal of Evangelicalism and postwar America, on Academic Search Complete and also on www.kcccla.com

To introduce Jesus Christ to every tribe in every nation
To help Christians to mature into Christ-like lifestyle of faith, fruitfulness, and abundance
To equip Christians to witness in the Spirit and become multiplying disciplesSo that we can actively..Help fulfill the Great Commission by turning lost students into Christ-centerred laborers

Present day, KCCC at UCI welcomes everyone regardless of race. Although they are not one of the popular clubs on campus, the members are still determined to continue on Bill Bright’s vision which is to convince people to live a Christ centered lives.

I wanted to reveal KCCC because KCCC is not only a place to worship God but it is a place to experience Korean culture because more than half of the members are Korean immigrants. The food they serve, the language they speak, their sense of humor, hobbies they love to do, were all very Korean. One of their favorite dish that they like to make is called grilled Kimchi and sam gup sal. Sam gyup sal is Korean Bacon used mostly for Korean BBQ but is not widely known in America. They also grill Kimchi(red spicy cabbage) and serve it with sam gyup sal. This is the most favorite dish among the Koreans more than Kal-Bi (Korean short ribs commonly known in the US). According to KCCC, they get about 50 visitors each year and only a few remain as a member. But student come mostly to experience Korean culture. So next time you receive Kalbi from a KCCC Korean BBQ stand, remember that the KCCC members never sell sam gyup sal on campus because they want it for themselves.

Busy Schedule
Their schedule consists of daily morning prayers by the flag pole, two prayer meetings every Monday and Tuesday, Thursday, Church service also known as Open chapel every Thursday, group prayer meeting every Wednesday. And finally there is a Church service at LA called Gethsemane at 9 P.M to 1 A.M every friday. The Gethsemane service got its name because it is suppose to represent that the service is for spiritual recovery. Just like Jesus Christ went up to Gethsemane(garden where Jesus went to prayed to God a day before his cruxifiction) and prayed to God who communicated as well as relaxed Christ’s spiritual fatigue, Gethsemane service is for the members to come and relax by praying after a hard week of worship and their life activities.

Top of all that, they need to fulfill their daily events or they call it “duties”. Their job is to go out every Tuesday through Friday around 11 am to walk around campus to preach the gospel to any unoccupied students. Amazed and stunned by their weekly schedule, I begin to get curious about the source that fires up these Christians to participate in this crazy schedule. What is inspiring these students to be so passionate about carrying out their duties? My search for answers began in their open chapel services.

Open chapel:
As I walked into the ES3 building located next to the science library, I heard nothing but loud guitars, drums, and electric piano echoing, vibrating, and shaking the walls of the building. The music was praise songs that sounded soothing but loud at the same time. Entering through the entrance, I was greeted by Jenny Choi, the leader of the welcoming newcomer party. She is in charge of welcoming the new comers to the open chapel. “Hi, my name is Jenny, how did you find out about KCCC?” Jenny greeted. Jenny, who is shorter than a typical Asian girl, had a lot of confidence in her facial expression as well as in her voice. She directed me to the seat where I waited about 20 minutes then Open Chapel officially started. Everyone stood up from their seat as the band in the front of the lecture hall began to play and vibrate the walls of the class with their loud church praise-songs. The clear white projection screen located in front of the lecture hall showed the lyrics to the songs so that everyone could sing along. As the song started, people began to stand up and praise. There were approximately 50 people in the lecture hall and all of them made a very unique look on their faces that people do not see everyday. The look was a mixture of gentle, angry, heart-warming, happy, dreadful, exciting, cheerful, and hopeful expressions. Jenny Choi explains, “I believe that these expressions represent a sense of security as well as relief.” Some had tears rolling down from their eyes while some others were violently jumping up and down in place as if they were jumping on a trampoline. Everyone had their eyes closed and did not seem to talk, chat, or cared about what other people were doing. One of the members, Joon Choi, started to pray so loudly that the people near him glimpsed at him. After the praising session came to an end, which lasted about 30 minutes, everyone in the room turned back to their normal selves. It was almost as if somebody turned off the HOLY MODE OFF button. They were laughing, talking, and enjoying each others company, just like typical college students that we see everyday.

The chatter amongst the members continued until a member named Jason Chu took up the microphone for his scheduled testimony speech. His voice was shaky but his face expression was tensed and confident. His eye brows were tensed up and his eyes were sharply focused to the audience while he spoke diligently, generously, confidently, with his soothing voice. “A couple of months ago, my friend, who is also a faithful and honest Christian, was diagnosed with tumor. The surgery for his tumor cost about the same as the US president’s yearly income. Not only that, even with surgery, he had a slim chance of survival..,” Said Jason. Then he paused for a second to observe the reaction of the audience. But it was obvious that he couldn’t continue on with his testimony because something was making him very emotional. After a few seconds of silence he continued on with his testimony. “…my friend had nowhere to go.. so he prayed and I prayed as well. Then something unthinkable happened. One day, his gums of his front two teeth became bumpy as if something was injected into his gums. In an effort to find out the identity of the bumpy spots of his gums, he began to scrape the surface of his gums from top to bottom with his finger nails. To his surprise, three black pellet-like objects came out from his gums. When doctor examined those pellets as well as his brain by x-ray, MRI and CAT scans, they concluded that those pellets that came out from his gums were the tumors that he had in his brain.” Right when Jason said these words, people looked not too amazed but just smiled at Jason ever so gently.

I talked to the nearby members and asked "why the reaction of the people was so mild?" Scott Chang, a sophomore majoring in public health, smiles and says “ We are more emotional rather than amazed when we hear these kind of stories. This is because we already know and believe God’s miracles, but the point is not on God’s miracle but its on the fact that God cares and thinks so highly of such insignificant beings like us.” After Jason’s testimony, everyone congratulated him on his articulate and inspiring speech that he presented to the members.

Luckily for me, I had a chance to ask Jason "why he had to pause in the middle of his testimony?" Jason looks off to the distance like one of those poets that sits on the beach mourning because they are never satisfied with their lives. Then Jason says, “the story was way too long to be told in front of people. I needed to cut it down short. But the story made me think about the pain and suffering, and that sense of despair and loneliness that my friend went through. With a slim chance of survival, he still grabbed onto his faith and prayed to God for help. God is looking for this kind of faith, faith that never dies or washes away even in a life threatening situation.” Jason’s story would be hard to believe for any non-Chrisitans. Believing the miracle of God in Jason's testimony is up to people's faith in Jason.

other than the Open Chapel there was another event that was catching my attention. “Let’s go Witnessing!” the members would often say. The members would walk around the campus and share the gospel with anyone that seems to be unoccupied. Jonathan Lee, one of the KCCC lecturers explains “We call this sharing of the gospel with total complete strangers, witnessing. It is difficult sometimes for us to reach out to strangers and talk about Jesus Christ but we still need to take the initiative to let people know about who Jesus Christ is.” At first, I didn’t get why the members had this desire to go and talk to complete strangers about religion. But I received the answers to that question when I joined Hoon sung and Andres Yu when they went out to witness. Clearly, this was my chance to get to know more about Hoon and Andres, but more importantly this was an opportunity where I can observe and ask questions about this activity. It wasn’t too long until Hoon and Andres reached their first stranger in Aldrich Park. To my surprise, the stranger named Tom was more than happy to talk about Jesus Christ. They were talking for a few minutes, but I realized something crucial about their conversations. Their conversation consisted of God’s plan for people’s lives, God’s salvation, and Jesus Christ but what was notably clear was that Hoon and Anders always talked about their little booklet called “Four Spiritual Laws” This tiny pamphlet explained 4 important laws that we need to know in order to accept Christ as our savior and become one of his children of God.

Law 1: God loves you and offers a wonderful plan for you life.
Law 2: Men is sinful and separated from God. Therefore we cannot know and experience God’s love and his plan for your life.
Law 3: Jesus Christ is man’s only provision for man’s sin. Through him you can know and experience God’s love and plan for you life.
Fact 4: We must individually receive Jesus Christ as savior and Lord; then we can know and experience God’s love and plan for your life.

Tom seemed to admire the fact that Andres and Hoon were sharing this wonderful message to him. However, Tom just wanted to talk about religion and was not interested in accepting Christ. Sadly, Tom refused to accept Christ because he was Catholic. Hoon and Andres believe that every rejection is disappointing; however, they have no regrets because they tried their best on sharing the gospel. WHen asked about the disappointment Hoon replies, “The goal is to make people accept Christ and join our KCCC. However the point of Witnessing heavily relies upon taking the initiative and obeying to Jesus Christ who in the bible, told his tweleve disciples to share the word of God to the world.” That day, Hoon and Andres witnessed to eight people who all rejected Christ. Most people would usually refuse to talk and walk away or they would just rejected Hoon and Andres right off the back saying “No, I’m catholic” or “Sorry, I’m not interested..” or “I don’t feel like there is a need for me to believe in Christ” After this experience, I asked “What is giving you this burden to go out and witness to people who clearly do not care about God? Hoon replied “This is something that God wants, and personally, I want the campus know how wonderful God is.” After a good forty minutes of talking to stranger at Aldrich Park, this session of gospel sharing came to an end.

Perhaps this Witnessing activity can be a practice for many of the members of KCCC for their missionary trips. These trips called Missionary trip, “Missions” by short, is basically traveling to foreign countries to share the gospel. I like to think of it as witnessing to foreign countries to spread Christianity. This summer, about 25 people from KCCC are traveling to all parts of the world such as South Korea, Vietnam, Thailand, Mongolia, Argentina, Turkey, Philippines, China, Japan, and parts of Africa.

Life away from KCCC
The members seem like hard working people who only know how to worship God. However this is totally not true. They are the most athletic and outgoing people just like you and me. My point is, they do not worship Jesus Christ like Mayans worshiped their Gods by worshipping them in a temple day and night. KCCC guys would play soccer and basketball at least twice at the arc. After a couple of fun games of soccer and basketball, they would usually go to an all you can eat Korean BBQ restaurant. KCCC girls would go shopping or go to the beach, or bowling. The guys and the girls would often go out together to a Christian band concert where famous Christian bands like Mercy me or Casting Crowns come. Sometime the concert doesn’t have to be Christian related. They have been to a concert to go see Bi aka Rain perform.(The most widely known and perhaps the most popular Asian Pop Singer in Asia). Sometimes the guys and the girls would go to San Francisco or six flags for a road trip. So many times they are misunderstood as the 24 hours worshipping machine. From What I've seen their motto seems to be “When it is time to worship and work hard, we work hard. But when it is time to relax and have some fun, then play like regular people”

One of the fun events KCCC held was called Project Acts. These are the clips that some of the members of KCCC at Project Acts made. Project Acts was a fun KCCC event that divided the KCCC members into 6 different groups and required them to create a video clip that represented what kccc is about and what God's love is all about. The first video clip got first place decided by the judges.

According to KCCC, this clip best represents God's love for us.

Now..this clip didn't even get third place, but what they did was very creative, funny, and gave all the members a good laugh.

Opening The Door:
After living the life with the KCCC members, I wanted to touch upon the questions that I stated in the beginning paragraph of this article. How do students have a relationship with God when they cannot see him? And what is creating the desire to work for God’s world? From my experience and observation, I felt that the KCCC members gave a chance for God to show himself to them. “People never give a chance for God to reveal himself to them. That is why they cannot experience or create this relationship that Christians have. All they have to do is give God a chance.” Says Joon Choi a KCCC member and an International Studies major. Other than their work in their club, they are regular college students, trying to have fun like regular college students, but they are always keeping in mind that they need to live Christ centered lives.

Reporting Log:
- Observation of Tuesday Prayer meeting
- Observation of Open Chapel on Thursday
- Observation of Sophomore Prayer meeting on Wednesday
- Interview with Jonathan Lee about 5 minutes
- Interview with Jenny Choi about 5 minutes
- Interview with Hoon Sung and Andres about 10 minutes
- Interview with Jason about 5 minutes
- Interview with Scott Chang about 5 minutes
- Interview with Haejin Choi about 10 minutes
- Interview with Joon Choi about 5 minutes
- www.kcccla.com website
- www.kcccusa.com website
- Documents: Academic Search Complete: Bill Bright and Campus Crusade for Christ: The Renewal of Evangelicalism in Postwar America

1 comment:

  1. This sounds odd... Catholics believe in Christ. Its the original Christian religion.