by Moon Choi
Pastor John Kim. Everyone at Lighthouse knows him. He’s the guy who preaches every Sunday. Twice. Though he is often seen yelling from the pulpit, he is actually soft spoken away from the pulpit. I remember being very surprised by it when I had a casual conversation with him and his wife, Angela, my freshman year.
You can pretty much figure out Pastor John’s upbringing and life story just from his sermons. But here’s a quick rundown: Pastor John grew up at Grace Community Church. After graduating from UCLA in 1988, he attended the Master’s Seminary. Then, in 1989, he and Angela were married. He served at Grace Community Church as a pastoral intern in the youth ministries and then as youth pastor at Valley Korean Community Church. After helping to establish a number of ministries there, he, Angela, and their daughter, Jenna, moved out to Baltimore, Maryland in 1993. After four years of ministry there, the last being especially difficult, they moved back to San Diego with another member of the family, Kara. Here, he and Angela, and two other families started a Bible study, eventually leading to this church plant known as Lighthouse Bible Church. In San Diego, Pastor John and Angela had two more daughters, Alyssa and Olivia.
Though we primarily know Pastor John as the head pastor, he also has other ministry responsibilities: leadership training, shepherding the church (including the elders and deacons/deaconesses), being the Grace Life and Single Life shepherd, and international outreach. When asked what he enjoyed about serving, Pastor John replied, “The greatest joy comes when I see people growing in Christ. I would agree with the apostle Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:19-20: For who is our hope or joy or crown of exultation? Is it not even you, in the present of our Lord Jesus at His coming? For you are our glory and joy.”
However, ministry does present a lot of difficulties. Pastor John points out his own insecurities, particularly in dealing with people. Though he says that it is a “tremendous struggle to not bow to the fear of man.” Overtime, he has learned that in the midst of ministry, he can only trust Christ and were he not laboring for His glory, “then it would indeed be a burden that would never become joy.” However,
Pastor John praises God that He has sustained him, especially during the past several months. He exclaims, “God’s grace is not only sufficient, it is super-abounding!”
There were two ministries that Pastor John wanted to highlight: Sunday services and Lighthouse’s international missions to the Czech Republic and Argentina. He is so greatly encouraged and amazed by the hunger for the Word that people at Lighthouse have. He recalls, “I still remember the time that for some reason, we had to shorten the sermon due to other elements within the service. Afterward, there were a number of people who made the comment that they got short-changed.” Pastor John is also awe-struck with how “God has given us the privilege and honor, not only to go out and take the work of the gospel to other countries, but that He would bless us with situations that have grown into partnerships with churches that we have truly come to love. Meinolf and Martina Mellwig in Ostrava and Jorge and Norma Ahualli in Tucuman have become dear friends to our church family as God has given us a kindred spirit and heart to serve Him.” He noted how the summer missions trips give a unique and wonderful chance for members to not only grow closer and to work together but also to “come alongside with our brothers and sisters… to do the work of the Great Commission.”
When asked what his opinion on the state of the church was, Pastor John reiterated what he had said during his State of the Church address: “Our church has grown…a church that really has been blessed by God to grow both in depth and in breadth. There is much to be thankful for… But we also see the signs of complacency, complaining, and at times, even falling away of members… we all need to be reminded to go back to the basics of really loving Christ with all our heart as our first love, to humbly and selflessly seek first the kingdom of God, and to really be dependent on the power of the Holy Spirit to sustain us as we face the challenges ahead.” Pastor John also mentioned his excitement for the prospect of moving into new facilities. Lord willing, there is a certain anticipation of increased numbers, but Pastor John said, “As I learned from my pastor growing up, John MacArthur, he always shared how he would just focus on building the depth through the preaching ministry of the Word, and that he would trust God to grow the breadth.”
Though there are many difficulties and responsibilities in ministry, Pastor John is still so greatly encouraged by “the generous hearts of those who are here at Lighthouse.” No matter what affinity group, he notes how “there are many who have been so sacrificial.” He also mentioned how overwhelmed he was with thanks to God while reading through the messages in the scrapbook that he and Angela received. He is also encouraged by seeing members emulating the love of Christ with one another, “especially with those that are new or those who are kind of on the fringe.”
And the one challenge that Pastor John has for Lighthouse? “Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus and run the race with endurance, enthusiasm, and unity so that we might bring maximum glory to God in fulfilling the Mission, the Vision, and the Passion!”