Pastor Sam Koh, the lead pastor of Hillside Church of LA Christian Presbyterian Church (LACPC), was one of nine speakers for the breakout sessions at Higher Calling Conference, an annual conference hosted by Korea Campus Crusade for Christ (KCCC). He led an elective seminar titled “How to Love Your City,” during which he spoke on the issue of the local homeless and needy, noting that it is the Christian’s duty to reach out to those in need.
Koh began his seminar with a statement that by the end of it, he wanted to have stimulated the audience into action. While pacing back and forth, he said, “On a basic humanitarian level, it is pivotal and absolutely cool to help those who are down and out—not even on a Christian level.” He shared a personal story of how he brings hot tamales to a homeless man who sleeps on the cold ground outside.
“For us to let those people suffer, that’s not decent,” Koh says, emphasizing the responsibilities of a fellow human being. There are an alarming number of homeless people that have accumulated throughout the years that should especially be reached by Christians.
He proposed a few ways to combat the homelessness. “As a believer, giving to the needy is one of the greatest forms of communicating that Jesus cares for those who are poor and who are needy,” Koh repeated slowly twice. The Bible challenges every individual to have compassion, and to take a step in helping one another. Actively serving the Lord, such as community work, is pivotal in illustrating the concept of what Christians preach as a reality. Building relationships with local homeless people, Koh says, is also a possibility to show love. Koh suggests to always have bags of food ready in one’s car, along with a message of welcome to their church. However, it is not enough to feed the homeless, but to interact with them and remember that they are people, too, he added.
Koh's passion for the community is evident in the fact that Hillside Church has a separate community service department which has now been running for five years. But, Koh said, this department is only the beginning of his vision for the future. Koh’s personal goals include creating a nonprofit organization intended for the homeless to go to school to receive an education.
Koh also emphasized that he hopes for the younger generation to practice proactivity, and that more leaders will rise up and kickstart the changes needed in this world.
Koh was one of several Korean American pastors who partnered with KCCC to pray for and plan the conference, and he himself has attended the conference several times as a speaker. During this year's conference in particular, Koh also led a time of prayer during one of the main plenary sessions.
Sherylin Kimberly is a volunteer student writer from University of California, Riverside.