As a chaplain assistant in the Republic of Korea Army, I was granted an opportunity to lead worship two to three times a week for the final half a year of duty. I generally chose contemporary Christian music I could relate to and be comfortable with, most of which I learned as a soldier. Little did I know then numerous songs I selected to lead fellow soldiers and families were written by Chris Tomlin and translated into Korean. Weeks after I returned to the United States to resume college, my brother asked me to attend Passion City Church, fifteen minutes down the road from our apartment, with him, informing me Chris Tomlin, who wrote the majority of gospel music I knew by heart, led worship at the church. However, I was still unfamiliar with the singer’s name. I remained at Glenn Memorial United Methodist Church due to its close distance to my home and relevance to Emory University.
Upon my return to America from winter break of 2013 in Korea, one of my Korean friends texted me in Korean, asking me to go to Passion City Church with her. The language involves no F-sound and thus letters F and P share the same pronunciation. I misread the friend’s text message as her wanting to go shopping at “Fashion T-shirts,” and, partly to fight jet lag, I agreed to follow her because inactivity would have made me vulnerable to sleep. When she told me she wanted to worship there, I was puzzled, as I did not comprehend why she would choose a shopping location to praise God. I soon realized my misinterpretation, but I had no time to reverse my answer. Though I typically became tired after a church service and had already come back from a morning service at a different church, in addition to adjusting to a different time zone, the friendly atmosphere of Passion City Church and inspiring sermon by Pastor Louie Giglio helped me feel energetic and joyful. Nevertheless, because I did not own a car, I could not consistently attend this newfound church; even when I did, I always arrived late due to my friend-driver’s picking up other students as well.
Entering senior year of college, I decided to enroll in church activities to learn more about and walk closer to God. I discovered that my diminutive 50cc moped could sufficiently take me to Passion City Church, and I immediately sought ways to join the church community. I partook in the church’s college community group the entire year, occasionally visiting poor neighborhoods to provide emotional support to less privileged individuals and setting up for and cleaning after major events, such as The Grove, where a couple of thousand women gather each month. In the midst of this participation, I was convinced by the church employees and door holders, term used to refer to all volunteers, to become a door holder. I registered for the Touch Team, requiring me to greet and communicate with thousands of strangers and lead them to seats by riding on shuttles, standing in the oval, or serving inside the auditorium. Unless away, I served every Sunday and at The Grove, and I swiftly began considering this church as my spiritual home.
Regardless, constantly spotting people act utterly differently to me outside church from inside, I struggled deciphering how much of what I saw in them came out of genuineness. Essentially everyone raised his or her arms to worship God in the auditorium, but I wondered who meant these gestures and who was merely imitating others due to the environmental influence. During one of the sessions of Passion Conference 2014, I was seated beside all of the performers and speakers, and through my peripheral vision, I caught innumerable college students on the other side of me solely concentrated on the renowned people rather than the service. I have talked to several male college community friends and door holders about this examination to see if I had turned irrationally paranoid, but surprisingly, they unanimously agreed with my opinion. I even questioned how much of what I did at the church resulted from the joy for God and how much from the contentment in myself.
Often meeting and conversing with leaders of Passion City Church and its companions gradually cooled down this confusing debate, as their humility proved the church’s sole mission to spread the Word and evangelize those out of faith. Throughout my process of joining this church, God has provided me with too many signs for me to even attempt to doubt His leading me there. After all, I have no right to judge others, and He will be happy as long as my heart stays in the right place.