Since we at Living Water have not been able to get together in person and have fellowship with each other, we–the LW communications team–have started a campaign called the People of Living Water. Through a series of interviews with members, we are hoping to bring us closer as a family by uncovering some fun facts about our church members, opening up the opportunity to reach out to members you may not have known well before, and encouraging intercessory prayer on behalf of our brothers and sisters in Christ.
Starting with leaders, we will be asking for interviews with members of Living Water about their likes and dislikes, life lessons, passions, hopes for the future, prayer requests, etc. Although there is no obligation to participate, we highly encourage you to, as this is a great chance for the church family to get to know you and support you in any way that we can.
Introducing: Han Lee
Most of you probably recognize Han Lee as the leader of the College Ministry at Living Water, but do you know his favorite ice cream flavor, his travel bucket list, or the encounter that changed the trajectory of his life? Keep reading to find out some interesting new things about Han’s journey!
Let’s get into the interview.
Q: Can you describe yourself in three words or phrases?
A: One thing is, I would consider myself a very considerate person, or try to be. I think another word that kind of describes me is, what’s the right word… stereotypically predictable? But at the same time, I have a very unpredictable side too. I think it just depends on who I’m with or around. I think [there’s] more of a reserved, serious side, which is a part of me, but if you were to see me with friends that I went to college with and the guys I lived with out in New York and Jersey, I think people would be kind of shocked to see this other side of me too. And I would say the last word that describes me at the moment is overwhelmed.
Q: What is making you feel overwhelmed?
A: Yeah, [several] different things. So I grew up here and went to the University of Michigan. Then after college, I moved out to the East Coast to find work, and then stayed there for a good number of years. And then the last thing I was really doing was seminary; my father passed away during my last few weeks there.
So I moved back home to help take care of our family business with my mom and my younger brother. And then now I’m just kind of figuring out life now that we’ve helped sell the family business and helped retire my mom. I’m just working and trying to do ministry, but also just to try to figure out life.
Q: Wow, that does sound like a lot to handle. Do you think this [lockdown] has made it any easier in the sense that there’s not a lot that you can do, so you can focus on the things that you really need to do?
A: Initially, yeah. Initially when everything was kind of locked down, I mean, it was too cold to really do anything anyway. And then now it’s like, I go to work at the office and it’s just busy. And because I live with my mom and she’s on the elderly side, I don’t want her to go out and do the grocery shopping or anything like that. So I do it all, whereas before it was at least split.
But I will say this time has definitely put things into perspective. You know, just the idea of, what if I were to go back to Jesus today, then all these things that I consider so important in my life, are they really that important? Or the things that aren’t as important, should they be more of a priority? So I would say that this time in some ways brought that more to the forefront.
Q: Where do you feel most at home right now?
A: Like I mentioned, a lot of my really close friends are actually still in New Jersey, New York, and I would say a big part of my heart is still there. I guess at this moment in time where I feel most at home is in my car, driving. For me just driving is very cathartic. That’s where I spend a lot of time with God, too, whether it be listening to sermons or praising God alongside music or just in my thoughts.
Q: How strict were your parents on a scale of 1 to 10?
A: I would say growing up probably like 7, and then probably 5. My parents moved here when they were relatively young–so my mom came here probably in her late teens and my dad probably early twenties. My dad was not a stereotypical Korean or Asian father; he was very expressive, very goofy, and I think that’s where I actually get that side of me from. For example, he would sing karaoke by himself, bringing the karaoke machine to our Christmas get-togethers at my aunt’s house. And I think my dad always felt guilty, having to run a small business; my mom and my dad were always working. And I wouldn’t get myself into too much trouble, so they didn’t really have to be too strict. That on top of them feeling guilty for never being home or providing the type of lifestyle that they see that my friends had–I think they were pretty lax in some ways.
Q: Apple or Android?
A: Gosh, haha Apple. But I say that very begrudgingly. I grew up more of a PC guy and an Android user. That was my first smartphone. But admittedly, Apple, you know, they have a nice product. They say they value your privacy more than maybe other companies do. But I think the thing that really drove me nuts for the longest time, is that you can’t use non-Apple parts for your Apple computer. So that’s why PC was, you know, cheaper and easier. And then I think ever since Steve Jobs died I think also the quality of the product isn’t as good as it used to be.
Q: If there were no pandemic travel restrictions, cost restrictions, or time restrictions, where would you travel right now?
A: Probably all over the world, haha. I think New Zealand is very interesting at the moment. Obviously they’re in the news a lot because they’ve done a really good job of keeping their country COVID free, as best as they could. And knowing that The Lord of the Rings was taped there, and it just looks like another planet; I’ve always wanted to visit there.
And Europe. I went to London once when I was a high schooler. And I think now as an older person, I can appreciate some of the history, and again, having gone through seminary, I want to visit, you know, some of the places I’ve read about, the places where these theologians studied. Africa would be awesome. Interestingly enough, Asia’s not too high up on my list. I went to Korea once in 2004, that was the last time.
Q: What are your top two love languages?
A: Acts of service. Which makes this time kind of hard! And I would say a toss-up between words of encouragement and touch. Those are probably like 2A 2B.
Q: What do people say they admire you for most?
A: I think recently I hear a lot that they respect that I’m trying to take care of my mom and do the right thing. I don’t know how many people admire me, but I guess they respect that I’m taking care of my mom. When I was helping her get her cataract surgery stuff, I would take her to the offices and the receptionist was always like, “Oh, I wish I had a son like you” or “I hope my son turns out to be like you.” So I guess that’d probably be what I hear from strangers.
Q: What is your favorite ice cream flavor?
A: Chocolate. Pretty much anything chocolate. Actually the one flavor that I really liked that they don’t make anymore was this Hudsonville ice cream called royal coconut or toasted coconut. So they make one where it’s chocolate ice cream with coconut and another one was coconut ice cream and chocolate. I can’t remember which one, but the one that I liked, they don’t make anymore.
Q: What does your perfect lazy day look like?
A: Wake up early, hot cup of coffee, and just read. That would probably be ideal. And then maybe throw in some house work. I like building things. I’m not good at it [but it’s fun]. So it’s not really a lazy day, but that’s how [I would like it].
Q: If you had to wear the same T-shirt with one word on it every day for a year, what would you like it to say?
A: Go blue. I’m brainwashed.
Q: What’s your favorite moment from the past year?
A: There are few smaller moments. Last fall I got to visit New Jersey, so I got to see some of my friends, and it’s always nice. Because I don’t get to visit as often, people would make time for me. People are busy, so to make time for someone, I consider that kind of a big deal. So it was just nice to catch up, eat some different, nice foods. Restaurant offerings are much better than here.
And watching the Michigan vs. Michigan State game with friends who went to Michigan with me. That was one good memory I had for this past 360-odd days.
Q: What’s your favorite thing about your job?
A: I work for a car dealership in their marketing; I am the marketing department. And we just let someone go about a month ago, so I’ve taken over some of their work. I’d say right now, what I enjoy, but I’m super frustrated by, is just having the ability to exercise different roles and learning different things. So I’ve learned how to be a web designer, learned how to use certain programs that I’m not as comfortable with yet. So I guess the growth opportunities, that’s what I’m enjoying right now.
Q: Have you been finding ways to rest recently, to take time for yourself?
A: Yeah, I think at this point, I’m just needing some sleep. The last few weeks were just really busy helping out another church for the summer, my friend’s church in Detroit, just helping him run some stuff. So it’s just been tiring. I’m just needing some physical sleep and probably exercise. I really should go running. It’s been a long time.
Q: Do you have a childhood memory that had a big impact on your life?
A: There’s quite a few. For whatever reason, me and my brother liked to get into a lot of fights with [kids in the neighborhood]. It’s not like we were looking for trouble, but it just happens. So this happened in North Carolina, where me and my brother were playing in the sandbox, and then our neighbors/friends, we all started getting into fist fights with each other. One of the kids was much older and was pinning me down, and I just remember my mom running down the stairs and yelling at him, scaring this kid away. I think it was the first time I saw my mom do that. And I wouldn’t say it has a huge impact in my life, but it’s a memory I remember from thirty some odd years ago. So clearly it has some sort of impact.
Q: What was your first significant encounter with Christ?
A: When I was entering third grade, at the old Hahn-In church we had a lock-in and I remember the guest preacher spoke at an altar call of some sorts. I was in third grade and I remember at least verbally accepting Jesus at that time. That’s probably the most indelible memory that I can think of or at least the first of many. And then I would just say most retreat experiences as a youth here, and some in college.
And then I would say the other one that’s really significant is probably [my] call to ministry. So it was exactly 10 years ago. I had quit my job in advertising in New York city, [I’d] kind of got burnt out and jaded. Traveled around the United States for two months in a minivan with another friend of mine. And then coming back, I was like, I have no job, I have rent due. What am I doing?
And I watched a video of a Michigan football player being rehabbed from a really bad car accident, and I was like, I guess I could be a physical therapist. I didn’t know that that was a field; I thought it was just doctors or nurses that help people get back to health. So that following summer, I enrolled at a community college in Jersey to take anatomy, physiology; did pretty well and thought, okay, just a few more classes, then I’ll apply to PT school somewhere.
And there was a summer retreat that August, 2010. I remember thinking, I don’t really want to go but I’ll go because, if I’m honest, there was a girl I liked and she was going. The guest speaker was from Latin America; nobody in the church knew him directly. I attended a mostly Korean-American church in New Jersey, second-generation English speaking ministry, that deal.
This speaker was recommended by a friend’s friend who heard him when this preacher was in Korea; you should really get this guy, he’s a really good speaker, gifted, blah, blah. So we did. I remember we were standing in a circle and, after introducing ourselves, we sit down to pray together and then I distinctly hear the word “Jeremiah.” It sounded like when you’re reading something and you hear it, audibly but not audibly. And then we close our eyes to pray and I see the numbers 29, 11 flash in my head. And I’m already thinking, all right. I know what that means. This is definitely a sign that God is saying I am on the right track. And you know, everything looks good. Cool.
The guest preacher was more on the charismatic side of things, and, for me, I’m probably somewhere in the middle where I try to have a healthy, not skepticism, but just caution. Because I know it can be abused or misused. And you know, preacher guy was like, I want to heal people, so if you need healing, come on up after the sermon and I’ll pray for you. So my friends went, [but] I didn’t go because I was a little skeptical.
The next night, after a sermon, [the preacher said], I have these prophetic words of prayer that I want to share with anybody who wants prayer. And I’m thinking in my head, you know, if I don’t go up now, I’m never going to go. So maybe I’ll go and ask to have healing on the shoulder because I injured it playing volleyball. So I go up there and we’re standing in a row and he’s just kind of bouncing around people indiscriminately, just praying as the Spirit leads, kind of thing. And then he gets to the people around me and I hear some of the prayers; it’s along the lines of like, you’ll meet your wife a year from today. Crazy thing is my friend did, and it happened a year or two later.
So then he gets to me and he’s just going nuts, and I’m just like uh-oh, did I do something wrong? Like what’s going on? He’s jumping up and down and he’s singing, and then he starts saying these sayings, like, you’re this type of person. So I’m like, okay, you could say that about most of the people here. Like, you love God, some things like that. And then he said the words, “God knows you’ve been thinking about seminary all these years, so just go.”
And I’m like, oh, okay, no way this complete stranger would know that. And he would risk saying something like that. And he would risk everything he said before and everything he said after. So the fact that he said that, and at that moment, it’s hard to describe, but I really felt like, one, time stood still. Two, I felt just this warm, peaceful presence surrounding us. And at that point my mind just snapped to attention, like, okay, I think this might really be from God, so I should pay attention. And he was saying these things for what felt like maybe five minutes?
Afterward my friend was like, “What did he have to say? He was with you for a long time, 20, 30 minutes.” So after that I was like, okay, God. It looks like physical therapy might not be for me. So I prayed. And then I applied to two schools, got in and then decided to go to the one in Jersey (Princeton Theological Seminary) and the rest is history, as they say. But that’s kind of what I’m juggling right now too, is just figuring out, okay, God, I don’t know what this all looks like now. This is not how I imagined my life to be at 38.75 years of age at all. So I’m still trying to figure some things out.
Q: You said your dad passed away while you were in seminary?
A: Yes, my last semester. I wasn’t able to finish, to be honest. I only had two classes left anyway, and I was trying to finish, but it just never worked out because I was helping to run our small business with my mom and my brother. We sold it two years ago, and so at that point I had already been out for four years and it just didn’t make sense to me to go back. And I was even thinking about going back after all this but you know what, at this point, I’m at peace. I mean, most people might disagree with me about whether I should finish, or the merits of finishing. And maybe if God says, you know what, I want you to go back to seminary in your mid forties, then I’ll be open to it. But right now I am just serving where I can.
Q: How do you think you’ve grown in the past few years?
A: I think just having to grow up. Like I said, my dad passed away, so it went from being a student to having a mortgage, running a business, taking care of my mom, taking care of employees. It happened pretty much overnight, so I think I was forced to grow up, and then the second thing is, just realizing that I’m not young anymore. What I mean by that is, when I was younger, I always looked to the older church figures or friends to lean on or for advice. And I realize now I’m that age. So I can’t keep looking up to have someone feed me. It’s like, now I’m in the position where I need to help shepherd and feed and mentor others.
Q: Do you feel like you are able to enjoy the responsibilities?
A: I don’t know if “enjoy” is the right word, but I appreciate them. Obviously I miss my dad and I wish he didn’t pass, but if there’s any good from it, it’s that I see the world differently. It puts different things in the focus, prioritizes different things. I would say I appreciate it.
Q: How do you think the Living Water community is different from other church communities that you’ve been a part of?
A: At least for the first few years, it’s the first community where I felt very out of place because of my age and because of not really knowing anybody, but then it’s weird because I do have a familiarity with it. Pastor Josiah was actually my small group leader while we were in college, but he’s two years older. I’ve known Josiah since we were in our late teens, early twenties.
I would say the unique thing is just, aside from being mostly college students, I think it’s also, we have college students that have a variety of backgrounds that come from literally all over the world, which I can’t say many churches in this area have.
Q: Do you have any particular hopes for the future of Living Water?
A: So this one class that saved me in seminary was this class called Missional Theology. The professor at the time that taught it was Daryl Guder–if you ever are in Baker Books, a lot of his books are there. This is borrowing from Darryl Guder’s work, but being Christian and doing mission, it’s almost one and the same, like you can’t separate them. Mission is not something a Christian does; mission is something that a Christian is by very nature of who God is, what God has done. And so my hope for Living Water is that we understand what that means, I think. And it’s not to necessarily critique other churches too negatively, but you know, mission is always like a department or a thing that someone does during the summer. But we all understand that the mission field is everywhere. Pastor David’s desire, you know, [is] constantly having that church planter focus, that outward focus. My hope is that we can really understand what it means to reach out of just our community, but do that prudently, and do that in the way that God wants to do it.
Or if I could borrow from one church in the area, so Kentwood Community Church, I was attending there for a little bit, but one thing that I liked with the previous pastor was, almost every week they had this candle that they lit in the sanctuary and that signified when someone became a believer for the first time, whether during that day, that morning or sometime during that week, and I would say 90% of the time I’ve attended or visited that church, it was lit.
And that’s kind of my hope for us as Living Water. I can’t say I’ve ever been a part of a church that is constantly filled with new believers. It’s always somebody new who went to a different church, or who’s been a Christian all their life, and they’re just kind of church shopping or hopping. And I don’t want to say it’s good or bad, but I prefer to see new believers.
Q: Where do you see yourself in five years?
A: I really don’t know. I really haven’t thought that far ahead to be honest. I’ve realized that life is so unpredictable. If you were to ask me 10 years ago where I saw myself as I approached 40, I thought I would be married with a few kids. I thought maybe I’d be pastoring half time at a church and working half time at Starbucks or something. I don’t know. I would say hopefully I see myself a little bit more… well, I really don’t know (laughter).
Q: Do you have any prayer requests for yourself, your family, etc.?
A: I would say it would be that my brother would know God more. He grew up in the church, but he stopped attending years and years ago probably during high school. And he’s only two years younger than me. And although he believes or wants to believe in God, I can’t say confidently that he does or knows what that means even.
And then for my mom to draw closer to God, too. I think for her, she leaned a lot on my dad, in a lot of ways. And it’s not that she doesn’t believe in God, but I don’t think she knows how to grow in her relationship with that. So that would probably be my top priority prayer requests.
And then for me personally, it’d be nice for clarity in my life, but I guess it would really just be to trust in God more, or to be reminded that I can trust God more because life just seems so uncertain, so yeah, that’d be it for me.
And that concludes our interview. A huge thank you to Han for taking time out of his busy schedule and sharing parts of his life with us!
If anything resonated with you, feel free to reach out to Han and start a conversation, and remember to include him and his family in your prayers.
Who should we interview next? Let us know who you would like to see featured by submitting a comment down below, emailing us at firstname.lastname@example.org, or commenting on one of Living Water’s Instagram or Facebook posts.