A Question and Answer, with Deacon Peter Choi of the Korean-speaking congregation (KC), and Tom Lee, Ellis Chang and Jackie Kwon of the English-speaking congregation’s (EC) Love Herndon ministry. Deacon Peter currently serves as a deacon for KC’s global missions ministry but will be transitioning to become the deacon for KC’s newly-formed Love Herndon ministry! 

It was ODPC’s first attempt at an event this large. Our church was to host 30 food trucks that you would ordinarily see on the street. Our desire was to invite Northern Virginia residents, businesses, and local government officials to Open Door Presbyterian Church (“Open Door” or “ODPC”) for food and various activities provided by the Love Herndon ministry. For the City of Herndon, this was exciting news since this was its first food truck rally event. By publicizing this event through various social media outlets, ODPC was able to take this opportunity to introduce our church and show God’s love to the people and the City of Herndon.

In addition, we witnessed the unprecedented partnership between 300 KC, EC, NEXT (young adult Korean-speaking congregation) and youth volunteers working together to fulfill God’s vision of serving as a whole body. By participating in Love Herndon as a group, all congregations were able to transcend our differences in age, language, and culture through the experience of doing the Lord’s work. It was a blessing for our congregations to work side-by-side, and we left the event with a greater appreciation for the other, and for how God can use our unity to strategically reach Herndon and the nations.

– Deacon Peter Choi (KC)

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Love Herndon Team Interviews

How did Love Herndon form? What was the key focus and goal?

Jackie Kwon (EC): Love Herndon formed from Pastor Daniel’s desire to be a more visible presence in the community of Herndon. He had been reading Center Church by Tim Keller, which begged the question, “If your church were to leave your community, would they even miss you?” This challenged Pastor Daniel to rethink our vision of what Open Door was called to do — to think beyond being a sending church for missions, but to also think about our strategic local purpose. Given that 42.6% of those living in Herndon have an annual income of more than $100,000, our team began to think of ways where we could actively engage those in our community beyond providing just relief. Thus, the Love Herndon team established our mission statement: to be an Open Door to a life-changing grace for Herndon through radical hospitality and loving service.  

In your own experience, what was the best part of the Food Truck Rally? Can you share any highlights?

Jackie Kwon (EC): There were so many highlights. But if I had to choose one thing that stands out from the Rally, it was how both KC and EC pulled together for one common goal: to bless the people of Herndon. My heart was so happy to see our congregations working together — Youth Group students working alongside NEXT members, EC members serving with the KC parking deacons, and the older KC women cutting watermelon for younger volunteers. There were so many cross sections of our church serving in unity; it was such a beautiful sight of oneness that I am sure pleased our God.

Ellis Chang (EC): The best part was interacting with people. I loved working with the rest of the church and breaking down the walls between our different ministries. This was nothing like what I experienced; an easier way to get to know other members without feeling awkward. I also loved talking to the local residents who were NOT from ODPC. The feeling of community was unprecedented.

Peter Choi (KC): Unity. Through this opportunity, we were able to work with the EC congregation and get to know some of the key leadership. We were also very thankful and appreciative of the kind of work put into the initial preparation for the Food Truck Rally. Reaching out to local city officials, publicizing the event through media and advertising, and coordinating all the little details that went into the planning would have been very difficult for the KC to orchestrate. The overall energy and vibe during the event was encouraging knowing that we all came together to serve. There was always someone there from any given congregation to help and support each others’ needs, which gave all of us tremendous strength. Working side-by-side in our different roles with one goal in mind – to extend the love of Jesus Christ to the Herndon community – also helped us envision the infinite possibilities of what we can achieve when all the congregations come together to serve as one.

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Can you describe the experience of working with different congregations and generations?

Tom Lee (EC): For me, the idea of EC and KC working together makes me a little bit uneasy, because I am simply unable to speak Korean well. My fear is always that I will unintentionally offend someone or create a misunderstanding because of my inability to clearly communicate. Working with NEXT was great. I worked in the parking area all day and if Jin had not been there, I do not know how we could have filled all of our gaps for the parking needs.

Peter Choi (KC): Generational and cultural clashes! We definitely noticed that even with the same goal in mind, we had very different approaches from congregation to congregation, and from generation to generation. But it was also so much fun and I really enjoyed seeing us work through different perspectives. I wish we had more of these opportunities to work together.

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Are there any conflicts or issues that arose that show how we can improve in the future?

Tom Lee (EC): For an all-day event like the Food Truck Rally, we had several shifts. The first shift was very reliable, but we noticed that many people who signed up for the second and third shifts did not come. This caused some of our first shift volunteers to work longer in the beating hot sun. Fortunately, God provided, but there were many moments of worry, as we were getting phone calls asking for relief. The other major issue we had was that we did not have as much time to coordinate with KC on this large effort. While, in the end, everything worked out, I know that it caused us to rush and created unnecessary frustration for the KC.  For the future, I hope that we can pray together (as much as possible) leading up to these events. While serving together is so awesome, praying together will bind us together!

Peter Choi (KC): For the KC side, early planning and a heads-up well in advance would have yielded many more volunteers to help with the event. Since all of our fiscal year’s events are pre-planned, the request for assistance with the Food Truck Rally came almost too late for us to ask our members to help out. It was also a time when small group leaders’ retreats were in progress during the month.

If my memory serves correctly, the majority of the volunteers didn’t show up for the noon shift, which forced many of the existing volunteers to extend their shifts. I felt so bad for the volunteers but, at the same time, grateful for their hearts to serve. Not a single person complained about being short-handed. This is all to say that there could have been better communication or contingency plans during the event.

Another challenge was getting the KC’s attention on the importance of the event. This is something the KC would never have thought about doing, especially on this scale. Initially, many were a bit skeptical and had doubts about why we were doing this event. We also did not have sufficient time to present and introduce Love Herndon to gain more interest and recruit KC members to be more “hands-on” like our church’s missions bazaar.

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The KC is currently in the process of forming a Love Herndon team. We learned many lessons from the Food Truck Rally, but look forward to many more opportunities to work alongside the EC in the future. We know God has a strategic purpose for our partnering together.

We’d like to thank the 300 or so dedicated volunteers that came out to serve together in love on July 23rd!

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Jackie Kwon, Ellis Chang, and Tom Lee all serve with the Love Herndon ministry. Peter Choi serves as the KC deacon on the global missions committee.  Want to learn more about Love Herndon? Email  loveherndon@gmail.com or sukwon@gmail.com with any questions!

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