Working Outside The Fence

As 2016 drew to a close, Rev. Dongil Kim, pastor of The Abundant Life Korean Christian Reformed Church in Los Angeles, Calif., was concerned for the 30 to 40 people who live on the street around the corner from his church, especially on the rainy days.

Abundant Life worships in and owns Space E•um Café. On a regular basis, Kim goes out to these friends to bring hot coffee and chat. But he wanted to provide donuts or other food with the coffee.
He hesitantly reached out on Facebook to see if he could find others to help pay the costs, about $1,200 a month. He was amazed at the people who sent donations or participated in the work on the streets. Happy Village, a closed-up store, even provided warm jackets.

Some friends suggested that to save money they use cheaper coffee beans and get day-old goods donated from other shops. But Kim said, “If the cost of [feeding] my body is same as their bodies, and I want to get good [products] for me, . . . we have to do same for them.” His street friends say the coffee tastes good, and they like its special fresh beans from the café. Rev. Kim believes that this serves them as persons made in [God’s] image.

The distance from inside the store’s fence to outside is only one meter (39 inches). But it's the difference between warmth and cold, rest and restlessness, being accepted and rejected, safe and unsafe.

Kim thanked donors and participants on Facebook and posted a sentence that he has printed on the back page of his Bible: “Whatever thy heart cries for, let my heart follow always.”

About the Author

Jonathan Kim is the Banner's regional news correspondent for classis Pacific Hanmi.

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