Objective Politics?

As dogmatic as I am and as much as I enjoy discussing and exchanging ideas, I stay reticent about politics on social media due to the bizarre sensitivity and self-heroic bigotry of this generation that would make personal diatribes against me inexorable and acrimonious partisanship extant in the United States that makes simply being impartial and veracious almost inconceivable. Prior to deciding to keep up with the daily news to educate myself on the current events in 2016, I neither paid close attention to politics nor deeply understood the two extremes of the Democratic Party and the Republican Party, either of which most Americans unequivocally side with. I only recalled, in my childhood in Korea, my family watching CNN and thus posited its credibility. In the period I subscribed to CNN on YouTube, probably for over a year, I quickly became overly critical of President Donald Trump, unaware of the network’s agenda to vilify him in any way it could. I eventually unsubscribed from CNN and sought a more disinterested news network, mainly because 99.9% of videos CNN uploaded inserted a form of demonization and disparagement of the president as a universally agreed reprobate and I craved actual news happening around the world. This decision became an eye-opener, as I, ingenuous, started to notice how spurious CNN (and most liberal media) had been (and continue to be).

My dislike for the president’s rhetoric quickly reversed to my gratitude toward his boldly standing up for many of my core values and against issues I find most upsetting as a Christian. America was founded on Christian principles and values. Currently rereading the Book of Ezekiel, I was reminded there has never been a single nation in history God abundantly blessed that did not forget and rebel against God, Israel being the epitome. The United States appears to be no exception, as I have been disheartened and even furious to observe so many with their full bellies turning away from the Lord, ironically and hypocritically while invoking His Name. This president may seem erratic, tactless, and frivolous, perhaps rightly so, but he also became the first president ever to attend the March for Life, often uses his audacious and brusque attitude to condemn the wicked self-justifying murdering of hundreds of thousands of unborn babies being created in the image of God by God Himself every year, believes in traditional marriage between a man and a woman, does not embolden the practices of LGBTQ (although I do believe in loving neighbors, including those who identify themselves as such), restored Israel’s capital and moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, fights for Christian rights in the workplace, intently listens to and acts upon the words of prophets and servants of God, and has been working to bring back prayers in public schools that the Democratic Party unconstitutionally revoked and still suppresses. I have always believed God placed President Trump in the world’s most powerful position at this particular time for a reason, and I see that more clearly each day.

My goodness…

I continued to examine shameless inveterate conniving by the leftist media, notably CNN’s mendacity of staging hired workers with props to fit a certain narrative following the 2017 London Bridge attack, filmed and revealed by a bystander, besmirching the impeccably reputable Justice Brett Kavanaugh into an alcoholic gang rapist just to stymie a conservative majority in the Supreme Court, depicting a kindhearted Catholic teenager being antically approached by a Native American “Vietnam War veteran,” which proved to be a lie, with a cut-up video as a smug racist villain solely for wearing a MAGA hat outside the Lincoln Memorial and consequently subjecting the boy to countless death threats, consuming the nation with the Russia-collusion hoax for over half the president’s first term, and impeaching President Trump in the most despicably perfidious, unscrupulous, and unfair process this country probably has ever witnessed. The leftist hatred of the president led some of them to even side with the world’s most wanted terrorist, Qasem Soleimani, responsible for the deaths of thousands of Americans, when the Trump administration disposed of him.

Now, the leftist media, as they always do, push forward their incendiary agenda to divide the nation using the race card in hopes of securing the election in November. They distort the truth to whatever fits their narrative, for instance hiding the facts that police brutality has been on the decline and far more unarmed white people than black people have been killed from this real issue based on the statistics for 2019, and galvanize fools into violence, looting, vandalizing, and arson in the name of “systemic racism.” In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, these virtue-signaling radical leftists graciously accept an arsonist setting a church on fire but argue those who go to church should be arrested, almost tantamount to their desire to grant clemency to and release all prisoners to prevent the spread of the virus among them while advocating for imprisoning those who do not abide by the lockdown rules. Anarchists continue to dominate Democrat-run cities amok and attack the history of this nation, taking down statues of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Christopher Columbus, and other prominent historical figures and burning the American flag, the most anti-American acts one can imagine. The “woke” liberal celebrities join and defray the bails of these America-despising criminals who have been quite literally destroying this nation and should be locked up for years, if not decades. The liberal media encourage prodigious protests, effrontery, public funerals–exploited as rallies against the president and the Republican Party–for lifelong criminals they portray as heroes and martyrs (while banning civilians from even attending their own families’ funerals), and other events germane to their election agenda where tens of thousands of people gather; nevertheless, as soon as an event involves the president, this time his rally in Tulsa, Oklahoma, they denounce him, that he has no regard for other people’s lives. Liberals promulgate “Black Lives Matter” while the affiliates of this openly Marxist, anti-Semitic, and Antichrist organization that utterly ignores the leading causes of black deaths unveil their own discrimination, forcing some arbitrary innocent white people to kneel before them while physically assaulting others, even a 92-year-old woman who was shoved to and hit her head on the ground, and rendering the entire police force as pure racist and evil for the action of one anomalous officer, with the self-righteous sententious Atlanta mayor firing a white officer self-defending and the corrupt miscreant district attorney of Fulton County, under investigation himself, charging this officer with murder and allowing a potential death sentence. I could not help but laugh at the hypocrisy of these sanctimonious race-baiting racists labeling others racist and starting this virtual civil war while playing the victim. The leftist media deliberately omit countless incidents of actual black (and other) victims of these violences, including a venerable African officer who served the force for decades and was shot and killed by a domestic terrorist, as this goes against the picture they want people to perceive, while tech giants also continue to silence conservative voices.

Based on my observation, generally the most privileged are the ones habitually complaining about the oppression and unfairness of this nation. They love to say, “When was America ever great?” To those so Americentric to entertain this arrant stupidity, please travel to or even study several countries outside the United States, and you will comprehend just how rare these extents of freedom and capitalism are in the world. Try behaving like these criminals in Russia, China, North Korea, or anywhere in the Middle East or South America. These television whiners becoming millionnaires without doing anything useful speaks volumes for how great America is; in many cases, they themselves with their unhampered success debunk the myth of “institutional racism,” albeit I do not demur to the existence of racism and police brutality.

Due to my passionate tone, I may sound biased, but remember I spent a long period obtaining “news” from CNN, during which I probably censured President Trump more than most, and now rely on ABC News, another liberal platform but nowhere near as unprofessionally chauvinistic as CNN, and BBC News, one of the most objective news networks. My values align far closer with conservatives than liberals, but I do not want to be dragged to either extreme, the reason I do not watch much Fox News, the most overtly conservative network, either. I only care to do right in the sight of God; therefore, I support what I believe God supports based on my prayers and understanding of the Bible.

Goodbye, Kearney

1,576 days, nearly half a decade, full of good and bad, my time in Kearney, Nebraska, at last came to an end. Believing this day would come much sooner, I continued to hint at my “leaving soon” for a couple of years to the point most of my friends did not take me seriously this time, like The Boy Who Cried Wolf.

Prior to coming across the position of International Recruitment Specialist at the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK), the term Nebraska had never exited my mouth. UNK offered to sponsor me for an H-1B visa during my grace period of Optional Practical Training Program, meaning I would have had to remove myself from the United States otherwise, and subsequently agreed to sponsor me for a green card (minus the medical fees). Although I believed this to be one of the primary reasons God sent me to such a foreign place, especially in the first half, I debated whether or not the green card was worth accepting the way my former boss and the few of his nepotic minions treated me. One time following a phone call with the boss, I became lightheaded in fury, knelt down, punched the floor, and rushed out of my office, impulsively thinking about quitting because I could not find any reason that justified my having to tolerate such disgusting evil. Here, my Christian colleague stopped me, put her hands on my chest and back, and prayed for me, which calmed me down. The adversity continued, but I learned to deal with it more efficiently each day, albeit the long-overdue firing of the boss, who really should have been imprisoned, did make this much easier.

When I initially submitted my resignation letter in June 2019 with the intention of moving on the following month, the new head of the office asked if I could continue to work for UNK remotely half-time until I found a concrete plan for my future. After praying about the matter, I took the offer, planning to explore different parts of the country to see where I would like to live next while working wherever I want; however, I ended up spending most of this golden opportunity still in Kearney, one of the reasons I decided to fully resign so that I feel more desperate and do not have any comfort holding me back. Even while working half-time, my workload remained the same, if not more, and I continued to do three or four colleagues’ jobs on top of my own while they took credit, not to mention I always worked well over my hours.

This pretty much sums up my last 4+ years in Nebraska!

Just this past week, God gave me back-to-back-to-back messages of confirmation and encouragement, which boosted my confidence to move on. The last Sunday of 2019, due to the major snowstorm that had just hit central Nebraska, my regular church closed; I barely made it to the location to find this out the hard way, after which I spotted a different church I had never attended that still held an 11:00 AM service. Here, the pastor emphasized, “God is the God of the promise. He is not the God of your timing,” which echoed in my heart, that God’s Word never fails and He will fulfill what He has promised me not when I want Him to but rather when He wills it. Throughout my time in Kearney, I learned a valuable lesson not to set my own timing, which led me to decide in my head I was leaving soon and sell much of my furniture over a year in advance and live in almost an empty two-bedroom apartment for the remainder. This same Sunday, the Korean church of my mother and father sent another message directly to me using a verse given to me as a child, Genesis 28:15: “I am with you and will watch over you wherever you go, and I will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.” Here, the pastor highlighted “wherever you go,” that wherever we decide to go, God will be with us; as he so beautifully expressed, “It is God who is with you and not you who are with God.” Even if Jacob had decided to go elsewhere, God still would have been with Jacob. As the pastor added, we need to move and take that first step for God to work in us; if we stay still and do not take any initiative, God cannot work. Lastly, in my final (24-hour) race of 2019 that carried into the new decade, I finished at 74.2 miles, 119.413 kilometers with which God reminded me He rescues me (119 is Korea’s equivalent of 911) and “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). How could I ever doubt God?

This was essentially my office once I began working remotely. I will miss you all too!

As lonely, stressful, and challenging as this journey has been, God continued to provide. Focusing only on the positives, my Father gave me a gift I had been begging Him for since childhood and used me to spread the gospel and even turn one student to Christ, I became a permanent resident as early and smoothly as I did due to the lack of international competition/demand in Nebraska, and I completed forty races that include a 102-miler, a 74.2-miler, a 50-miler, two 50K’s, two marathons, twenty-six half marathons, and seven 10K’s during my time here, which would have been highly unlikely elsewhere. Perhaps most thankfully, I found the perfect church for me, the senior pastor of which started the same Sunday I did and contributed significantly to the strengthening of my faith, and used much of my free time, often hours a day, thoroughly reading and studying the Bible. Towards the conclusion, I made many new faithful Christian friends that made this departure difficult, which I never saw coming. I deeply appreciated most residents here identified with Christianity and I never had to filter my faith to avoid hurting sensitive individuals who do not yet know Jesus.

My training in Kearney is complete. What is next? I do not have my life figured out yet, but I have confidence I am making the right decision to take this leap of faith moving forward, because God will be with me wherever I go.

9/11

Eighteen years ago today, four separate attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon and nearly 3,000 lives taken and over 6,000 injured, I remember exactly where I was: math class. I had recently started boarding school in Connecticut, having just moved from Canada, and homesickness immediately inundated my 12-year-old self; when I resided in Canada, living with my aunt’s family, I rarely felt lonely, but here at Rumsey Hall School I found myself daily crying a river to bed and calling my mother five to ten times, begging her to bring me back to Korea and complaining why I have to live away from my parents. Emotionally, due to my immaturity, I consider this the toughest season of my life. Who knew God would use this adversity to save my mother’s life?

My mother worked for Merrill Lynch in Korea for nearly thirty years, and she was scheduled to attend a conference inside the World Trade Center on the day the most tragic event in my lifetime so far and hopefully ever bombarded Manhattan and DC, or America. My constantly wailing over the phone made her feel so bad that she canceled her hotel reservation the night before and postponed the meeting, both inside the Twin Towers, to be closer to me. She could not relay this update to Merrill Lynch due to communication issues, so of course her office freaked out, thinking she was in attendance. When my math teacher told the class what had occurred, I remember nobody believing him until he walked us to the closest TV in the fitness center. As I watched this horrific scene in New York City being replayed, I kept thinking about my mother and feeling uneasy, not knowing why and unaware she was supposed to be in one of the targeted buildings when this tragedy took place.

When I share this story, most people say, “You saved your mother’s life,” and I always respond, “No, God used me to save my mother’s life,” for I am convinced if I had not been homesick, He would have found a different path to make sure my mother could not be at the World Trade Center then. I recall God allowing me hear the Holy Spirit very clearly at that point of my life, and my mother reminded me that I told her He spoke to me, “I will take care of your mother and father. Do not worry.” Still a teenager, I could not wrap my head around the unfathomable grace my Father had poured on my family here, because, although I will not elaborate here, based on the unthinkable hardship we were already facing, I do not believe any of us could have survived if He had decided to take my mother Home that day. The older I become, the more I understand this miracle God displayed and the more I praise my Savior.

May our righteous, merciful, gracious, and loving Father bring comfort and peace to every person whose life was affected this day in ways only He can.

Living for Him

I hate conflict, and if “it is possible, as far as it depends on [me], [I try to] live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18). In this age of social media, where so many people become so easily triggered and upset by any post that may even remotely disagree with their viewpoints, I have gone from being quite outspoken in my belief, even in sensitive topics, to hardly mentioning anything political that would inevitably create a heated dispute among unbelievers. I feel generally “prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks [me] to give the reason for the hope that [I] have” and do so “with gentleness and respect” (1 Peter 3:15). I strive to be “completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love,” but, a mere man, I, like everyone else, daily sin and “fall short of the glory of God,” and I am eternally grateful I have a patient, merciful, and forgiving Father who renews me every day (Ephesians 4:2, Romans 3:23).

This raises the question: Where do I draw a line between sharing the truth of the gospel in and out of love and hurting the feelings of so many, which does not take much in this generation that seems to almost search for reasons to be angry. The Bible could not be clearer about the nature of sin and certain detestable acts, in the sight of God, that have become so prevalent to the point many believe they fight for justice by despising and opposing the teachings of our Creator; they do not understand, when they challenge the Bible, they challenge not fellow humans but the Author. Those who do not know Jesus acting like they do not know Jesus do not bother me, but those who invoke the Name of Jesus and His Word and lead others astray, whatever the reason, infuriate me; “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church? Are you not to judge those inside? God will judge those outside” (1 Corinthians 5:12). If you proclaim with your lips to follow Jesus and then only believe what you want to believe and act as the judge, are you really a follower of Christ? As Christians, we should love our neighbors as ourselves and treat them with gentleness and respect, but this does not equal encouraging behaviors that dishonor God.

Painting of Jesus by Akiane Kramarik

If by loving and obeying Jesus people hate you, remember that the world “hated [Jesus] without reason,” and, as a “servant is not greater than his master,” those who follow Jesus too will certainly face trials and be hated and persecuted in this world temporarily ruled by Satan (John 15:25, John 15:20). Those who want “to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). “If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own,” but you who belong to Jesus have been chosen “out of the world. That is why the world hates you” (John 15:19). Therefore, I do not put much weight into what people think of me; I only care about what my Father in Heaven thinks of my heart. As Jesus warns, “Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in Hell” (Matthew 10:28). Sure, as a mere human, I may be hurt by fellow humans every now and then, but I stand firm in the faith that my Father has always been and will forever be faithful and never forsake those who love and seek Him with all their hearts, souls, minds, and strengths. As my pastor would say, I live from, not for, God’s approval, and it would be unloving of me not to share this loving truth with outsiders.

I would rather do the will of God and be condemned by humans than do the will of humans and be condemned by God. I would rather please God and be judged by humans than please humans and be judged by God.

Philippians 4:13

From April 21 to 23 of 2017, after two years of daily debating whether or not I should, I finally set out to turn my fantasy of running 100 miles into a reality at the Jackalope Jam 48-Hour in Cat Spring, Texas. I would be covering a single-mile trail loop, 0.5 mile out and 0.5 mile back, as many times as I can within the given time frame. With only two ultramarathons, 51 miles and 50K, under my belt, I relied solely on my Father to control my pace and condition to radiate His presence through me. My objective of reaching the pinnacle of ultrarunning had recently shifted from a simple human desire to building an eternal testimony to His greatness, that in Him, I (we) can do all things; “This only means a lot to me if You do it with me. Allow me to use this journey as a testament to Your greatness for the rest of my life,” I prayed. The Holy Spirit had already repeatedly provided me with motivating verses in the Bible and sermons from my church for the race of my life, and, the day before the event, I was led to Deuteronomy 29:5-6: “Yet the Lord says, ‘During the forty years that I led you through the wilderness, your clothes did not wear out, nor did the sandals on your feet … I did this so that you might know that I am the Lord your God.’ ” I replied, “I know You are the Lord my God, but let others see that through my journey.” Thinking of what happened to Peter walking on water the second he doubted, I reminded myself to always keep the faith. I believed He had already delivered 100 miles into my hands; otherwise, He would not have sent me for this task.

The race commenced the following morning at 9:00 AM, and, within an hour, the unshaded sun welcomed the brutal heat of nearly 90 degrees and humidity and made numerous runners slow down and re-strategize. I, one of only two participants residing outside Texas, should have been impacted the most but felt unscathed and had no issue with hydration, thanks to Him. After reading thoroughly Scott Jurek’s Eat & Run, I understood the significance of calorie intake in ultrarunning and, even when not hungry or thirsty, consistently put down food, Spring energy gels, and fluid, as well as salt tablets, to avoid any sudden unexpected shock. (Throughout training camp, He had taken away my craving for junk and unhealthy food and given me a sense of need for organic food; I felt the positive change in the way my body kept down calories in the race.)

I guess I AM always smiling. 😉

I began to include brief walks after nine miles of easy jogging, reminding myself I was running four marathons, which would have killed the first-ever marathoner four times. Nonetheless, oftentimes when I started walking, I spotted photographers taking photos, prompting me to pick up running again. On mile 43, I sat down for ten minutes to conserve energy, as I was beginning to feel a sign of fatigue. When I resumed, I was pleasantly surprisingly rejuvenated and lightly ran the next two to three miles nonstop. One does not recover out of the blue like this past 40 miles, and I prayed, “Continue to add testimonies, God!”

One tough lady!

As I anticipated, the true trial set in after the first 50 miles; I tried doubling my personal-record distance that immobilized me for days just over a year previously. I took a mandatory 30-minute break, lying down with my feet up on a chair and shoes off. The sun had set and temperature had dropped, and my body shivered viciously, making me question for the first time in the event if I could recover sufficiently to carry on. When I tried standing up to resume, a couple of volunteers came to me for a second time since mile 46 to examine my multiple blisters that formed on both feet under mile ten and progressively intensified. A fellow participant rucking had checked my feet and asked, “How badly do you want this?” and I simply replied, “I’m not quitting.” The couple popped and taped over some of my blisters and brought me more calories to consume. One of the volunteers put on me Trail Toes and a new pair of tighter socks for friction so that my blisters would not rub against my socks as easily. My feet were swelling up, and, although the experts found me two pairs of larger sneakers, I remained adamant to stick with the Nike my mother bought me for my 28th birthday until the end. When the couple suggested I take ibuprofen, I refused because I wanted no potential feeling of guilt I cheated. I walked the majority of the following 12 miles, to 100K, and took another short break. From this point forward, each stop of ten minutes or more felt like a risk, as my muscles swiftly tightened, knees buckled, and body shook uncontrollably and I had to drag myself for three to five minutes to be semimobile. Captivated by the gorgeous stars, I repeated, “Lord, You created all of this with mere words. As long as You are willing, nothing is difficult for You. Please help me.”

Around mile 75, when the sun had risen again and 24-hour, 12-hour, and 6-hour competitors were added to the course, I hallucinated at the aid station, seeing on the table two groups of numerous dots merging to the center. The thought of unexpectedly passing out intimidated me the most, but I also reminded myself with Whom I was running, that “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (Philippians 4:13). (I understand contextually the Apostle Paul is not referring to physical strength here, but this verse still spoke to me.) “The greater the adversity, the greater the testimony,” thought I. 18 miles to the 100-mile buckle, delirium hit me again, and a Christian woman running in the 12-hour, unaware of my symptoms, told me to walk with her; God had already planned her entrance for me here. I could no longer run at this point, and I had been limping since mile 51. I asked her if ultrarunners commonly hallucinate, and she referred to a scientific study that proved the human brain becomes “fried” and reacts similarly to drunkenness after 68 miles. Around mile 87, Race Director Rob Goyen told me, “You are about to do something very special,” encouraging me to keep grinding through the pain. Runners passing me continued to comment, “You are amazing,” “You are an inspiration,” “You are still going!” and many more inspiring words, and their sincere longing for me to fulfill my dream, constantly asking me which mile I was on, warmed my heart. One Christian brother I shared the course with often towards the beginning even said about me, “I am more excited to see him finish his first 100 miles than for me to finish this race.” Both seeing and hearing numerous people become emotional for me, I cannot remember the last time I was surrounded by such a humble group of individuals so genuinely interested in other people’s success, in spite of how they themselves were doing. Ultrarunning humbles and builds character.

“Go, Nebraska!” x 1,000!

On mile 91, I took a twenty-minute break, which recovered me enough for the next mile to feel less straining than the previous ten. Another Christian man, not even running in the race, volunteered to “guarantee [I] receive that buckle” after checking with the race director by walking the rest of the 100 miles with me; again, God had planned his entrance then for my upcoming hardship. On mile 94, moving with him, I became delusional again and occasionally threw out arbitrary phrases. I even asked him, “Do I seem delirious?” to which he responded, “If you are asking that, that means you are.” On mile 95, I questioned myself, “Am I in a dream or is this really happening?” (On the bright side, while these symptoms lasted, the physical pain vastly escaped.) The gracious helper wanted me to complete mile 100 on my own so that I could reflect on this grueling journey, but at this point I was already out of my normal state of mind and had trouble comprehending I was on the verge of accomplishing a goal that felt like a fantasy for years. I envisioned breaking into tears receiving the buckle, but I did not even have the energy to cry at the buckle ceremony. (I was later told the race director stayed past his shift just so that he could present me with my buckle himself, which made me feel grateful beyond words.) Following, to test my absolute limit the Lord set before me, I covered two additional miles chatting with a cordial volunteer who became a friend throughout the race, making my total mileage 102 in 39:25:44 and me actually appreciate insomnia for once in my life. Throughout these two mornings, afternoons, and evenings, I felt not even a hint of injury, another visible showing of His protection considering my history of knee injuries in long-distance running.

Garmin doesn’t work too well on trails.

I divide the victory of this seemingly unconquerable adventure into three stages. First, despite 99% of my close ones’ initial heavy opposition, I consistently prayed, believed God was leading me to 100 miles, and eventually registered for the Jackalope Jam. As my pastor Adrian Boykin said, “There is no failure in trying,” and, whether successful or not, my identity as a son of Christ does not change. Second, I had put my body through more than I ever have, cross-training between an hour and a half and three hours almost daily, covering up to 40 miles a week in addition to training on the elliptical, indoor bike, treadmill, and stairs, swimming, and technical muscle working. Even running back-to-back Friday half marathons and training in the sauna to prepare for the inevitable Texas heat at one point, I frequently felt verging on injuries but toed the line healthy. Third, I finally earned that buckle. A tremendous amount of prayers and support have come my way, all of which I felt more powerfully and realistically than ever, for my fantasy to materialize and I have countless people to thank, but I feel obligated to give one person, one of my faith mentors and mother’s best friends, in particular credit. The mentor told me to begin training half a year ago, that “If it is not meant to be, God will give [me] a sign.” Without this answer to my question, I would not have begun preparing for 100 miles and would still be thinking today, “What if?” Praying with her husband every day since, she even stayed up throughout my entire race of nearly 40 hours and fasted and prayed for me while tracking my performance on the live results page. Through my success, she and I, along with many others, have built a new powerful testimony to God’s greatness, that a person can overcome anything in Jesus and His will. On top of fulfilling my dream, I am truly thankful and honored to have met and befriended so many selfless and compassionate individuals, most of whom referred to me as “Nebraska(!),” lending me seats to relax, checking on my torn body, cheering me on, and overly crediting my simple smile. I will cherish this experience my Father coauthored with me for the rest of my life.

One Year Down

First business card!

First business card!

A little over a year ago today, I joined full-time the staff of the University of Nebraska at Kearney (UNK) as an international recruitment specialist. Neither had I worked on a real-paying job nor recruited on any platform, major or minor. I felt nervous momentarily initially but then reminded myself even David did not count himself worthy to be anointed by God through Samuel, boosting my confidence; He decided to use me, and nothing can get in the way of His plans for me. I was merely delighted to finally have the opportunity to pour my workaholic and goal-driven energy into building my career from interning unpaid for two nonprofit organizations simultaneously for almost a year.

NAFSA 2016

God placed me in the Midwest, which had not once crossed my mind prior to my discovering this position availability on HigherEdJobs.com, for a reason. Believing this, I solely cared about pleasing Him, executing my tasks to the best of my ability regardless of results, and letting my neighbors see His work through me; I prayed I progress only by and in His will. Even though new to the recruiting world, from the first day, I knew step-by-step what I had to do in order to commence and move forward, pleasantly surprising many of my colleagues. Recruiting takes time to simply lay a foundation and additional time to begin receiving clients: students, in my case. I rapidly formed, reinstated, and renewed partnerships with numerous academic institutions and agencies in Korea, and I continued to expand my regions of specialty and covered also Nepal, India, Bangladesh, China, Taiwan, and the United States. In most universities I have visited, I became virtual friends with the representatives, many of whom send UNK students primarily to help me personally score points. In less than a year, I brought to campus 66 students, a combination of degree-seeking, visiting, exchange, language, and short-term, a transparent miracle especially for someone with no prior background in recruiting, and I have faith that number will only multiply each semester. Every time an individual comments on the constant positive outcomes I produce, I use the stage to glorify His name; I am just a hammer of my Carpenter.

The Kearney Hub

Upon arrival at UNK, I had no choice but to educate myself on Korean history. A vital and prideful past Korea shares with Kearney, Nebraska, had been virtually buried for almost a century until I unveiled the story. The Omaha World-Herald, along with local newspapers, published my interview and research paper on the topic, and from that exposure, I occasionally received requests to speak in various venues, requiring me to learn at a minimum the summary of the profound 5,000-year history of Korea, beginning Gojoseon, through the dynasties, to today.

Above all, He has been using me to rescue His lost sheep. In the first short-term program I directed, the Holy Spirit in me constantly made me say to one student what he needed to hear spiritually, resulting in his accepting Jesus towards the end of three weeks. Many neighbors were encouraged to rely more heavily on God by my faith. I half-jokingly told my close ones, “I’m not an international recruiter. I’m a Heaven recruiter.” I understood my purpose in Nebraska to be more than simply recruiting international students.

Presenting at the annual Family History Fair

In spite of all the positive, this journey has been the furthest thing from easy, and I am still fighting daily to overcome my current adversity. I face no struggle fulfilling and even shattering my occupation expectations; however, like in most of my hardships, my trouble stems from people. In the past few months, I dealt with enough to consider walking out of my job several times; if anyone is aware of how much remaining in America and ultimately becoming a permanent resident and then a citizen means to me, he or she would understand how much I must have gone through mentally for abandoning my work visa, relinquishing the green card process, and leaving the States to even enter my head. Loneliness outside work certainly has not helped. Nevertheless, I had faith He will not let me be tempted beyond what I can bear, but when I am tempted, He will also provide a way out so that I can endure it, giving me courage, strength, and patience to stick around another day.

Global Leaders Scholarship Program and World Leaders Camp

I have not the slightest clue how much longer I will be with UNK. If my environment turns healthier, I will likely stay longer than if not, but I have already experienced countless times God always guides and directs my path. If He tells me to stay, even if I try with all in my power to leave, I will stay. If He tells me to move on, no matter how much I might like to linger, I will be carried over to my next destination. Until then, I will continue to work on appreciating what I have rather than complaining about what I lack. How could I not be grateful for a job that lets me travel to Korea twice a year and stay with my family while working, an answer to years of my mother’s prayers? I acknowledge His plans far exceed my plans, and nothing will proceed by my will but only His.

The Turnaround

To reflect on my 2015 in detail would require an anthology rather than a simple blog post; however, I feel obligated to leave even a brief summary of the year, an emotional roller coaster ride to say the least.

In spite of my belief Jesus had a plan for me in the United States upon my graduation from Emory University in May 2014, the longevity of my struggle of finding a company or an institution willing to sponsor me with H1B to legally work in the country appeared more than the maturity of my faith at the point could handle. For the first half of 2015, I grew more and more irritable by day; my complaining to my Father, especially at night when emotions are heightened, became louder and louder. When I acknowledged this, I felt the need to desperately travel to a nature-driven destination where praising God could come to me more naturally and easily, which turned out to be the turning point of this adversity. At peace and in awe of His creation of magnificent Iceland, I repented of all I had expressed to Him in frustration over the previous several months and opened my heart to what He wanted in my life instead of what my human heart desired. My Father within days of my turnaround presented me with a global entrepreneurial position, consisting of all I sought and hoped to do upon college graduation, in the Midwest. This reminded me, “Always be grateful for what I have. His plans are greater than mine. He is timeless; His time and my time do not always match.”

Presenting to Korean high-school students on UNK

With the first half of my 2015 off aside from the two nonprofit internships for which I worked thirty hours a week on average, I, goal-oriented workaholic, needed to find a new arduous objective to overcome so that I would stop thinking I was wasting my time while most of my classmates had already begun graduate school or full-time occupations. The goal became physical, and I constantly challenged myself in long-distance running, what I despised more than any other activity until roughly four years ago, to see how far my body and mental toughness could push. This led to my running a 15K, half marathon, marathon, 50K, and 50-miler, all in 2015, which would have been unlikely to accomplish with a full-time job. (Let’s not forget all the required training for these grueling events.) Through these races, especially the 50-miler, I experienced God in ways I could not have imagined, and I have no regrets in my body having suffered various hardships and even injuries along the journey.

As grateful as I have been to God for my creative comeback story of 2015 He wrote, I firmly believe the author of my life has greater plans for me for 2016. I am honored to be starring in the 2016 Book of Jake Kim as the protagonist, and I cannot wait to witness firsthand how the story of the titular character unfolds.

At the Last Minute

God has always pulled me through at the last minute, so often to the point I should have confidently seen this coming. While enrolled in the Optional Practical Training (OPT) Program for a year starting June 16, 2014, I ultimately sought companies or universities to sponsor me for a work visa, the only realistic way for me to legally remain in the United States and look to eventually become a permanent resident. However, with rejection after rejection since college graduation, I gradually lost courage and wondered about my life’s purpose. Though willing to accept anything my Father assigns me, thinking about leaving the country where I grew up and received the vast majority of my education and most of my friends resided especially worried me. “I will do anything in Your will as long as You let me stay in the US” conquered my mentality rather than simply “I will do anything in Your will.”

Unsurprisingly, most of whom offered to help me find a job immediately forgot their promises, and my patience wore thinner and thinner. I was repeatedly misinformed a standard corporation could sponsor me by April 1 at the latest, any research-based institution or higher education by April 15—two months prior to the expiration of my OPT status—and international-student advisors will enter those who fail to be sponsored into the H-1B visa lottery, where one in three recent graduates will be selected. Thus, on April 15, I quit trying and hoped for the lottery to play in my favor until I found out no such system even existed. I was again misled I should apply for the green card lottery in spite of the ineligibility of South Koreans. Thanks to my research, I avoided giving up my debit-card information to scammers. I moved onto searching for opportunities in Western Europe and Australia, including applying to a graduate program in the United Kingdom. Although pessimistic as ever, I still believed somehow, God would prevent me from returning to my home country at the last minute; nevertheless, each time I felt this, I asked myself, “How? April 15 was my last chance.”

Around the time I booked a trip to Iceland to relieve myself from this intolerable stress and praise God looking at His awe-inspiring nature, I was encouraged to do my own research on visa sponsorships and instantly discovered the claim about a research-based company or university needing to sponsor me by April 15 at the latest to be utterly false, as either could sponsor at any time of year. I was riled up to be so boldly and continuously given false information, because if I did not think to Google this myself, I would have obliviously relinquished my opportunity to dodge my greatest fear. I went on HigherEdJobs and entered “Korean” in the search engine, as I figured this skill to be my best shot to get me sponsored. When I read the description of “Korean-Asian Recruitment and Support Specialist,” one of the first results that popped up, I was hooked right away and spent nearly three hours polishing and submitting my résumé, cover letter, and application and praying specifically for this position unlike I had ever done.

My testimonial featured on HigherEdJobs!

My testimonial featured on HigherEdJobs!

While worshipping on top of Perlan in Reykjavik, Iceland, I reflected on my traveling and how God kept letting me find my way to my tours and museums at the last minute and imagined, “Maybe something will happen at the last minute with my visa status and I won’t leave the US.” More importantly, I for the first time started feeling inner peace and becoming open to temporarily returning to South Korea. When I had dinner with my brother and sister-in-law two nights following my return to America, they noticed my change in attitude and face. Right after that occasion, I checked an email from the University of Nebraska at Kearney for the aforementioned job. For a year, every time I saw an email from a hiring manager, I assumed it to be an automated message of rejection, but for an odd reason, I accurately expected to have gotten an interview. The search committee initially offered me a phone interview, and I told my close ones, “I wish it were a video interview so that it could be more personable.” A couple days later, the committee changed it to a video interview via Zoom. Based on the impeccable timing of everything since I sent out the job application, I had confidence I would be given the position even prior to the interview. The four members present were “all very impressed with” my answers to their questions and put me on the short list of recorded interviews to be viewed by the Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Affairs upon his return to the States from China. He, having enjoyed my positive attitude and high energy, called and gave me the job, and human resources jumped onto the process of sponsorship straightaway.

God pulled me through at the last minute again. I knew He was training my patience all along and something would save me from leaving America, but the longevity of this mental adversity drained me to the brink of surrender. Seeing my problem resolved promptly after I genuinely thanked God and felt peaceful, I learned appreciating whatever circumstance to be key to making Him happy and thus success, as the Apostle Paul teaches, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

The Author of My Life

The Author of my life highlighted the chapter of 2014 to refine my perspectives on the world and society in which I live. I rapidly gained a diverse cultural panorama traveling alone to Italy, the Bahamas, France, Belgium, and other parts of the United States. Though I missed even the basic knowledge of these cultures prior to the journey, setting foot on these unfamiliar lands motivated me to explore not only their histories but also the world less familiar to me.

As I grew up in the fenced school atmosphere before graduating from Emory University, my parents have constantly brought up my lack of awareness and warned me of the “real” America. I had always refuted their theory, but applying for hundreds of jobs coming out of college taught me what my family implied. When I receive education, I pay and become a customer; therefore, the school is inclined to show benevolence. On the contrary, when I am the one being paid, the roles are reversed. Due to my status as an international graduate in eventual need of a work visa to legally stay in the States, occupations I attempted rarely considered me in spite of my exceptional academic accomplishments to avoid coping with additional governmental paperwork and spending roughly $5,000 to employ me. Originally longing to remain at Emory University to prolong my delightful memories with the school, I applied for its virtually every available position that fit my degree in English literature and work experience.

Oxford College’s Office of Admission first notified me of an interview. Though excited beyond measure, I was scheduled to go on a cruise to the Bahamas, and the office never followed up on the interview in the two weeks I patiently waited. I had no choice but to explain to the office administrators my vacation plan so that they would not appoint me an interview while I am gone. Their vice president replied the email I read “was due to a system error,” suggesting I was not actually selected for an interview. I was mind-boggled the office never considered revealing this issue until I asked. Disappointed, I decided to move on from higher education jobs several days before Emory College’s Office of Admission offered me a legitimate interview, where I would be required to give a presentation, with one day’s notice. I embraced the opportunity and met with five employers, divided into five sessions. I felt obligated to mention my irregular status with the Optional Practical Training (OPT) Program, that I could not be unemployed for ninety days and thus must find out the result as soon as possible. Two employers promised to let me know in a couple of weeks to no avail. I hesitated emailing and pressuring them to speed up the selection process, but I was left with no other option when nobody from the office contacted me for over four weeks. My instinct accurately guessed somebody was already chosen but the employers did not care to inform the other two rejected candidates of the decision. I was disgusted, and this vagueness’ stealing my only time prior to the end of the year to visit my family and friends in Korea especially riled me up. I removed my account from the university’s human resources and moved on, because I could no longer risk letting irresponsible and oblivious administrators damage my grateful college memories that stem from influential and affectionate professors and classmates. Two sales companies ultimately hired me, and I accepted one without realizing I would have to give up church. The hiring manager must have known this would have created a problem based on my résumé and interviews but refused to disclose the peculiar working hours until my initial day of training. I quit instantly.

God has my stories written out.

God has my stories written out.

Ninety days of unemployment since enrolling in the OPT Program swiftly approached, and I had to mentally prepare to return to my home country of Korea. However, God had a plan to rescue me. I arbitrarily wanted to surprise-visit my closest professor, Dr. Harry Rusche, whom I had not seen in over four months, without even remembering where he lived. I faced no trouble locating his home, and he and Mrs. Sue Rusche welcomed me with open arms. I shared with them my situation, and we immediately found a temporary solution: I would volunteer at Mrs. Rusche’s nonprofit organization until I discover a stable job that pays and will sponsor me. This experience connected me to the realm of politics and numerous individuals with unfathomable accomplishments, including President Jimmy Carter and a retired chairman and chief executive officer of United Parcel Service, Oz Nelson, who connected me to the president. With the right to manage my own work schedule, I also participated in two films as an extra and made friends with celebrated actors. I was reminded nothing happens by accident.

“2014 was a year of completion for our family,” expressed my father during my recent trip back to Korea. I completed my college studies on May 12. My brother completed his wedding on December 19. My mother, after twenty-seven years, completed her work at Merrill Lynch on December 31. I say, “2015 is a year of new beginnings.” Though I desperately need an occupation that will sponsor me with an H-1B (work) visa, I find confidence in knowing God has always led me to the right path even when I doubted Him. Whether or not I find a job in the United States, I am certain the Author of my life knows where to take me next. I cannot wait to witness what my Father has in store for me for 2015.