Young adults from five different churches in the South Bay will form one team to embark on a mission trip together this summer.
The mission team of about 25 consists of members from Shalom Presbyterian Church, South Bay Mission Church, Crosslife (the English ministry of Gardena Presbyterian Church), The Branch (the English ministry of Podowon Baptist Church), and Torrance First Presbyterian Church.
This will be the second time that these five churches – which are part of a group called ‘South Bay Together’ – will be going overseas together to orphanages in Thailand. Last year was the first.
“Doctrinally we might disagree on certain things, but no matter what, one thing we can agree on is that we need to minister to the poor and the marginalized,” said Woogie Kim, the pastor of the English congregation at Shalom, who started the South Bay Together gathering.
Initially, Kim began South Bay Together as an informal, casual gathering in hopes to encourage other Korean American pastors in the area, but eventually the pastors decided to participate in ministry efforts together, such as doing joint retreats and preaching at each others’ churches. The pastors meet together regularly and went separately to Thailand previously to account for the logistics of the mission trip.
“In the South Bay, everyone’s usually kind of separate, doing their own thing,” said Stephanie Yoo, a 22-year-old member of South Bay Mission Church. “The fact that our churches are coming together – that in itself is so cool. And that means our testimonies will be going out to multiple churches as well.”
The team will be going to multiple orphanages in Thailand, including in Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and other rural parts of the country.
Reaching children at the orphanages in Thailand with the gospel has a particular significance because of the fact that they are more vulnerable to becoming victims of crimes such as human trafficking, said Woogie Kim. When thinking of human trafficking, people may think more of saving people who are already victims of the crime, but “what’s just as important is preventing people from getting into that situation in the first place,” Kim explained.
To prepare for the mission trip, the team has been meeting every week since the beginning of April to understand the context of Thailand, to learn how to overcome the challenges of being in a different country, and to bond among team members, among other things.
But ultimately, Woogie Kim said, his hope is not necessarily that the team would do something grand like ‘winning Thailand,’ as people often say about mission trips.
“We can say we’re going to win Thailand for God, but we have such a hard time with even the small inconveniences,” said Kim. “My expectation is for us to change and learn what it means to be a witness for Christ.”