Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Zeta Hyunwoo Lee’s journey to Canada
As the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary embraces the challenge to train leaders for the tough places, the question is often asked, “Where will you find willing students?” The answer is found in the story of young men like Zeta Hyunwoo Lee.
In the fall of 2008, Zeta walked into the Nehemiah church planting center to begin the advising process for his course selections. He seemed excited to have arrived from Korea and was eager to get organized started with classes. It may have seemed like just another student enrolling in Seminary, but it was also a testimony to the faithfulness of God. Zeta had a story to tell, everyone does, and it was amazing to see how God was so faithful in guiding Zeta to this point in his journey. God continues to provide exceptional students for our seminary who will answer the call to the tough places.
Zeta is a most unlikely student at the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary. He was born in Kuwait. His family owned a small grocery market, but the age of four, his family decided to move back to their home country of Korea. Zeta grew up not knowing Christ, because his family were not followers of Christ. Life’s purpose seemed to be to live a good life and have a good job.
As he grew older, that purpose didn’t bring a satisfaction of the heart. By his own admission, Zeta’s life was dark and without hope. Life was empty. There seemed to be no meaningful purpose to life. Having tried many things and in desperation, Zeta said, “I asked a friend to invite me to his church. I went to church to be a different person, to be a better person, but I did not know Christ.” As a result of that encounter, began regularly attending a Methodist church with his friend.
The real life change for Zeta happened in 2002, on a mission trip to the Philippines. Zeta recalls a vivid memory of that trip. “It was the second day on a local island and there was a worship service. In my heart, I wanted to know God, so I began to earnestly pray. I continued to pray with a broken spirit and suddenly, God spoke to me.” Zeta remembers the voice of God speaking in his heart saying, “I was there from the beginning, you just didn’t recognize me.”
In that moment, Zeta saw the darkness, the memories, and the sin in his life. He felt overwhelmed. He cried for two hours in brokenness and felt that need deep in his heart to repent. He said, “I repented and met Jesus Christ as my personal Savior on that day. I was 23 years old, in my third year of University, and my life changed, forever. God is so faithful.”
After 2002, Zeta’s life began to change. It was evident to others, but not always evident to himself. Zeta recalls the first time the senior pastor of the church called and asked him to be a core leader. “When he first called, I actually hung up the phone because I didn’t feel that I could be a leader, but the pastor persisted and I became a leader.” Zeta recounts the faithfulness of God in those early years of leadership. As he grew in his faith, Zeta began to sense God’s plan for his life and on a second mission trip to the Philippines, he responded to God’s call to missionary serve.
Zeta graduated from University with a degree in Civil Engineer. While God was molding a missionary calling in his heart, Zeta moved to Chicago to work for a company as an accountant. Moving overseas and working for a good company had always been an important direction in his life, but God began to change that direction. Zeta remembers that “It seemed like every time I opened the Scripture, God was calling me to be a missionary, so I began to audit seminary courses at Trinity Seminary in Chicago.” After a couple of courses, he began to think about enrolling in Seminary, but God seemed to have another message. It was as if God was saying, “If you want to be used by me, go to the mission field first. See, experience, learn and then go to seminary.” So Zeta went to South Africa as a missionary, another step of faith on the journey.
In Cape Town and the surrounding townships, Zeta began to learn what it was like to be a missionary. He and his team started a youth ministry, taught biblical character lessons in the High School, and started Life Orientation classes. As a result of all the interaction, Zeta’s team hosted a youth camp and many students gave their life to Christ. The response led Zeta to decide to plant a church among this group in the township. It was Zeta’s first foray into church planting. Zeta and local leaders started a Saturday Club, which later became a youth church. God blessed that group and many came to know Christ and were baptized.
While all of this was going on, God was at work in another area of direction for Zeta’s life. A mission team visited Cape Town from the English Ministry group of the Korean Global Mission Baptist Church in Calgary. Although Zeta only spent a couple of days with them, they exchanged emails. Sometime later he received an email, from one of the team members asking if he would consider coming to Canada to serve with their church as a youth pastor. In the email was a link to the Canadian Southern Baptist Seminary suggesting he consider attending the Seminary.
Through the providence of God, Zeta applied, was accepted and moved to Cochrane to enroll at CSBS. Initially, Zeta was invited to serve as the youth pastor for the English Ministry. Through developing good relationships, much prayer, and seeking God’s direction, the church made a decision to separate the English Ministry and plant it as a new church. The Senior Pastor, in agreement with other leaders, asked Zeta to lead the church planting team.
2009 has been a year of transition, as Zeta has led the church planting team to plant a church that will reach second generation Asians in Calgary. They have formed a core leadership team, begun meeting regularly, and taken several missions trips. During the summer, teams went to South Africa, Panama, and Mexico. Those trips have served as a catalyst for spiritual growth among the new congregation. Zeta has provided solid leadership for the new church plant. The finance team is in the process of registering and constituting the church plant and Zeta has supported them in this effort.
Today, they are known as the Global Mission Christian Fellowship. They meet at Richmond Hills Baptist Church on Sunday at 1:20 PM. Their focus is on discipleship, prayer, and evangelism. The summer mission trips have heightened the awareness of the team to focus on these areas and particularly, prayer. Zeta says, “Every Wednesday the youth and college come to encounter God through prayer. We usually pray for an 1 ½ hours, because we know that God is faithful to hear our prayers.”
When asked to reflect on his time in Calgary, Zeta describes it as a clean, nice, beautiful place, but observes that it seems spiritually dry, even in many churches. There seems to be less of a commitment. In Korean families, there is a struggle with communication, family problems, cultural differences, and a generation gap. People say, “I gave my life to Christ,” but it lacks the depth of commitment. Zeta sees discipleship and prayer as a key to restoring a depth to commitment.
Only God knows what is next for Zeta. On the horizon is marriage. His fiancée is Jungwha Han, who is currently in Korea. They will be married in May of 2010. As Zeta tells his story, the phrase that resonates throughout is that “God is so faithful.” God is faithful in salvation, in giving direction, in giving a life partner, and in the purpose and plans He has for life. One can only surmise that God is preparing Zeta for one of the tough places. Pray for Zeta Lee as he leads the new church plant and as he balances his studies with ministry.