Those who feel the burden of paving paths in places there were none will find a dear friend and teacher in Dr. Faith Kim, who has been a pioneer herself in many respects.
Known most for her seasoned teaching career of over 30 years at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary (now known as Gateway Seminary), Kim was one of few Korean women who pursued ministry and attended seminary in her day. She received her master’s in Christian education at Moody Bible Institute in 1967, another master’s in Christian ministry from Wheaton College in 1971, and her doctoral degree from Golden Gate in 1987.
But as fellow pioneers may relate, Kim’s journey in ministry, and in being the first in many of her pursuits, consisted of many struggles. She experienced the pain of seeing division, betrayal, and split in the church. She faced discrimination, subtle and obvious, as a Korean and as a woman. She experienced the loss that resulted from a house fire, and saw the difficulties of parenting in an immigrant family.
Kim said it was her faith in God’s power that has strengthened her to persevere through the trials.
“To God, a mountain is a speck of dust. For us, it’s a mountain, but not to God,” Kim said. “God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. And because we have a can-do God, I can do all things through Him.”
Her ‘can-do’ faith may have been among the factors that have driven, and continue to drive, her passion for education and building God’s kingdom even until today. Kim and her husband are donors to several Christian institutions, including Wheaton College, Golden Gate, and Korea Baptist Theological University. Though she retired from her teaching position at Golden Gate in 2012, she currently teaches classes at Korea Baptist Theological University.
Kim’s focus on education has been on ministering across cultural lines, as she taught leadership formation of multicultural ministry at Golden Gate, and two of the centers that resulted from the Kims’ donations focused on global missions: the David and Faith Kim School of Global Missions at Golden Gate, and the David and Faith Kim Global Vision Center at Korea Baptist Theological University.
Kim has emphasized to her students that all people – across gender, age, and ethnic lines – share at least one thing in common: they are God’s children. In order to embrace people of all backgrounds, one must break down the ‘fantasy box,’ as she calls it.
“It’s the notion that if you are not in the box, if you don’t think the same way I do, then you are my enemy,” Kim explained. It’s a process of “re-creating” people according to a person’s own beliefs, she added, and in that way, subconsciously “playing God.”
“To work with people, you have to honor other people’s choices, and be firm in your sense of self and ‘yes’ feeling,” said Kim.
That ‘yes’ feeling is the very thing she herself held on to during her moments of trial – the faith in the can-do God that allows the believer to say, “Yes, I can do this in Him.”
Kim believes that, in contrast to the world’s focus on the results and the achievements, it’s the faith during the process – in the midst of the letdowns and the messiness – that God pays attention to.
“God sees the process rather than the results. The process is the result,” she said. “Throughout the process, God is asking us, ‘Are you relying on my power which can do all things?’”