Through the IVEP year, I have returned to a more solid and vibrant relationship with God. IVEP allowed me to focus my attention on God rather than on anything else interesting. Before I came to U.S., I was exhausted from the academic approach to church and social issues. There was no connection between my personal prayer and the fear I read about in the morning paper every morning. When I saw the constant arms race, I thought that the only thing I could do for peace was pray. When people asked me about the North Korean nuclear issue and the North Koreans, I said that I had nothing but prayer. I withdrew behind a safe fence, claiming that the issues of war and peace were too many and too big to face. As I was overwhelmed by this problem and the knowledge of darkness grew, I was paralyzed rather than believing in the power of prayer. When this problem becomes a heavy burden to me, it suppresses hope, and faith staggers.
My interest in peace studies and connection to the peace movement in Korea made a year with MCC’s IVEP an ideal fit. In addition, I desired an opportunity to live out my beliefs in a new environment. I am serving as a pastoral, life enrichment and activities intern working with Pastoral Services, Life Enrichment and with Garden Spot Village (GSV) activity departments. I like all departments. I remember the excitement when I first read the placement description. When someone asks if IVEP life has met my expectations, I can confidently say, “Yes, it has exceeded my expectations.” It is hard to explain that I met the best host family and colleagues, and that working in the perfect placement was God’s will not simply good luck. When I was a student, God felt difficult and distant, but here and now I have felt God come close to me and work around me.
Spiritual maturity is not automatic to IVEP. The growth of this most significant and worthy goal is come from relationships with coworkers, host family and friends. I grew in relationships especially with residents who live in GSV. I walk with a 102-year-old gentleman every Monday and Wednesday in GSV. I have been a helper to him like a friend and listen to his story. My job was simply to walk alongside him and look around as he drove an electric wheelchair for an hour. Because, if he is too fast, he may bump into someone. But we also went to his room and looked at his old letters and newspapers together. Sometimes we drank Starbucks coffee, and the most surprising thing was to exercise with him in the gym. His life is full of energy. Whenever he walks around GSV, he is greeted by everybody who passes by and he gives them his best regards. He walks around GSV twice a week to pray and bless every person he meets. I learned from him the wisdom of life.
Now, I am in a network called IVEP that creates social change for a better world. All are friends who walk together on a journey of peace. The peace movement needs more than a good idea or technology strategy. It is the voices of the callings that ring in the abyss. Reflecting on myself, asking, ‘Who am I? Where did I come from and where should I go?’ can be linked to what I do for God’s world as a tool of God. As Albert Einstein says, logic takes you from A to B, but imagination will take you anywhere. And so, I connect my spiritual vision with everyday reality. Christian spirituality and internal transformation lead to a change of society as a whole, according to God’s peace and justice. The painful issues of the world are connected with our spiritual life. It connects the weak and marginalized people around us with the world’s unfairness in our time as Christ’s disciples. We should always ask ourselves, ‘What will we do for peace and where we are headed?’ If we connect our work and peacemaking, we can draw a kingdom of God that we have never imagined.