It took 38 years for me to accept an invitation from Rochester.
It goes back to 1980. I went to college in Korea and I wanted to pursue advanced studies in the United States. I sent applications to several universities for graduate studies in chemical engineering. I was anxiously waiting for their responses. It was January 1980. One day I got home from a church retreat. My mom told me a letter came from the U.S. It was from the University of Rochester. I opened it. It read as follows: I am so pleased to inform you… It was a letter of acceptance with a stipend of $5,000/year and tuition exemption. In those days, the rent for an apartment was $200 and it cost $20 a week for groceries. I was so thrilled., filled with excitement. Yes, I can go to America!
I had also been accepted at other universities. I had to make a decision. I didn’t choose U of R. I went to the University of Houston. However, I moved to Western New York after only one semester, not to Rochester but to Buffalo. Then I moved to Delaware for my postdoctoral research, to Korea to work for Korea Institute of Science and Technology, then back to the U.S. to go to seminary in New Jersey, then back to upstate New York for ministry. Three years ago, I was appointed to Trinity UMC on Grand Island.
I thought God brought me back to the place where I started my life in the U.S., built my family and fulfilled my dream. And I thought God wanted me to complete my ministry in Buffalo. But you know what? “My plans aren’t your plans, nor are your ways my ways, says the Lord.” – Isaiah 55:8 (CEB)
God brought me to Rochester, the city that sent me the first invitation.
38 years ago! As I think of the day when I opened the letter from U of R, I still feel the excitement and joy and excitement. Now I am coming to Rochester with that excitement and joy. And much more than that. I am coming to Rochester with gratitude – Thank you, Rochester for the good news that you brought to me 38 years ago. I am coming to Rochester with this deep spiritual connection with Rochester to respond to God’s calling and to serve the people of Aldersgate and its community, Rochester and Greece. With gratitude, excitement, joy and hope from the journey of 38 years, I join you in the ministry of Aldersgate Church. Let us grow together in our faith and let us grow Aldersgate Church and its ministry.
Thank you, Lord, for this special opportunity to serve Rochester with your people of Aldersgate Church.
In Christ, Pastor Sung Ho