Since we at Living Water have not been able to get together in person and have fellowship with each other, the LW communications team is starting a new 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.
How it Works
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. Interviewees can choose if their feature article should appear on the LWCRC website or just on the private email list. 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: David Sung
Q: Describe yourself in three words or phrases.
A: I think I would say, introvert. And missional and people-seeking. It is a conflicting combination in some ways. I like being alone and I need alone time. But also over the years, I learned to love people because to be a Christian is to love what God loves.
Being with people, at least initially in my growing up years, it took energy. For example, like there was in my very first pastorate post, I decided to do a church-wide visitation. I visited every single one of the church members and after three visits–and the most that I did was three visits in one day–I had a thriving headache, so I had to hide and cool down. And then I would go to like the movie theater and just sit there and chill. And now that I’m older and more experienced, you know, I schedule sometimes five visits or more and at the end of the day I say, Oh, it was so fun meeting people. So there is that change over a period of time. But nonetheless, I value my quiet times to be alone with God.
Q: Where is the place where you feel most at home?
A: Oh, that’s also a very broad question. I think, you know, family of course is where I can let down my guards and everything. But also being at church, I also feel like I’m at home because I’m a product of a church. My home until when I was 27 years old has always been a parsonage, [which is] the pastor’s house on church property, so I never really escaped from being in the church.
And I should not minimize the aspect that I love nature. When I was in high school, my way of kind of rebelling, so to speak, was to go to nature and hike and camp. I always carried camping or hiking trail books in my backpack, and whenever I got a chance, I would just go out there. I served in a student conservation association that took me to the wilderness for five weeks.
I served one summer as a wilderness ranger. So when you go to a park, there are park rangers. My job was not just being there, but in the midst of a forest, you know, there’s a national forest that the government owns, and the core of the national forest is set aside for the next generation. My job was a wilderness guard. That was my title. So I would go very deep into the woods and check those places out and then [make a] report and all that. So I did that for one summer, I would hike in those deep places.
Q: How strict were your parents on a scale of 1 to 10?
A: I’d say maybe 8. They were pretty strict, yeah. One of the things that I really wish that I do not pass on to my children is, you know, a stigma as a pastor’s kid. I sort of feel that my parents didn’t do the best job in guarding us from all the ins and outs, the pressures of being a pastor’s kid, you know, there are many aspects to it.
One aspect was, my parents were not very good at hiding themselves when they talked about difficulties in the church. They did it in front of us and often, you know, we don’t understand all the details, but we do understand that whatever’s going on, it made them unhappy. And I always, growing up, felt like church makes our family unhappy. It is very stressful as a child.
And it was something that was difficult for me to overcome as I was sensing God calling me into ministry. Lord, I really don’t want this, you know? And then as God was placing in me the love for people and wanting me to serve them. And my college ministry became that place where I enjoyed it and flourished in it. At the same time I had a big fear in my heart. Not sure if I want to go into full time ministry in doing this as my occupation, and it took me a while for me to really give my heart to the Lord. Yeah. So that’s a long story.
Q: If there were no travel restrictions, no coronavirus, no cost restrictions, no time restrictions, where would you travel to visit right now?
A: Well, this may come off as something very random to you but part of my love for nature made me into someone who likes wood. If you ever come and visit me and are interested, I can [give you a tour of] my wood collection. And, you know, I would love to have a trip around the country, just collecting different kinds of woods. Southwest Oregon shores for myrtle wood, for example, northern California for redwood, Louisiana for ancient cypress. I can name a few and I love collecting them.
My interest began, of course, as a nature lover when I was in the student association for conservation. Have you ever seen a Peterson’s guide for birds or wildflowers or trees? When I was [in the wilderness] for five weeks I mastered all the flowers in the west side of the Cascade Mountains through that book. I have a journal of it. So on-site, I was able to identify hemlock, versus the cedar versus cypress versus spruce, you know, just by looking at it.
But then, when I was majoring in classical guitar in college, you know, I wasn’t that good of a musician to begin with. And I am even ashamed to tell people that I actually majored in music, you know, not very many people know it. My interests were more on, how does this box of wood make sound that is so beautiful? And as I was playing with my $500 guitar, my teacher told me this guitar now is not suitable for you anymore, you’ve got to buy a concert level guitar. The dynamics are very important; when you play hard on the string, it shouldn’t break the sound, it should give a loud sound. And when you play soft it should give a pianissimo sound instead of just no sound at all. [My guitar was not] capable of dynamic range or expression. So he says, Okay, you need to get a better guitar.
But you know, as a student, and my parents don’t have that much money so I didn’t know how. So I asked him if we can look for a used guitar. And he brought me a guitar one day and was like, If you’re to buy this brand new, it would be about $4,000. This was one of his friends’ guitars, which was barely used. And because it was not being used, the guy was willing to let it go for half the price. When I was just playing in front of him, I felt the sound in my heart, and I felt like, Oh man, I want this so badly. And I really got interested in, how do different woods make a different level of sound like this, what makes a certain guitar sound better, and what constitutes a better sounding guitar versus not. So I got interested in studying woods in detail.
My wife’s piano is a hundred and four years old. It’s made in 1916 and you know, because of my love of wood I began to study the piano because it’s made with wood too, except the metal part called the harp, which holds the tension of the string together. But what ends up happening is that I began researching Steinway pianos, and learned that the best period of the Steinway piano is between 1900 to 1930s. That’s when America was at the height of prosperity and we brought many wonderful piano makers from Europe who were hired by Steinway, and they made the piano from beginning to the end. Not like the modern day where [things are made by] placing orders all over the world and [the product is] brought together into one large package. And so no one can say, I made this from the beginning to the end. No one puts their entire soul into it. But back then they did. The quality of the material and the quality of the craftsmanship was much higher back then than now. So those people who do study these things covet those periods.
And so I did [want a piano from that period], and then when Lisa and I were getting married, instead of buying rings or fabric we invested that money as seed money to buy a piano. It took us one year to search for a piano. And once we bought the piano, it took two years to pay off the renovation fee. Three years to get her a piano. I would often visit the shop to make sure that they select the best, highest quality soundboard and all that. And so I got into the habit of going under the piano whenever I go to the piano shop; I’ve learned a lot about piano-making by [doing] that. The soundboard that we picked for Lisa’s piano is the best because of my interest in these things, because, you know, I am very picky.
You know, if I were not a pastor, I’d probably end up working with my hands, either construction or, I don’t know…
Q: Or making instruments?
A: Yeah. Luthier (maker of stringed instruments) of some kind. Cause I love working with hands and I made a small ukulele myself. I made it for Yohan when he was 15 years old or something like that.
Q: What would you be if you were a musical instrument?
A: I would definitely call myself a classical guitar. It is one instrument, but it has a capability to make many different sounds. Chopin called it a small orchestra and I believe it, and I feel like God made me into a Renaissance man, a man of many trades but master of none. I have diverse interests. And that’s why I look forward to eternity, because it means if I have an interest God has given me I’ll [pursue it endlessly] in eternity.
Q: What are your top two love languages?
A: I think it was touch and words of affirmation, I think, yeah. I think the touch being first was right.
Q: What do people say that they admire about you most?
A: I guess [that] I keep long relationships. You know, I don’t necessarily appeal to a large audience, but those who God allows us to go into a deeper relationship, we have a long-term relationship. And so a few people who were my old church members still keep in touch and it’s still that kind of communication that will encourage one another and be friends, things like that. But then of course not many people know about that because not many people know how to get into that kind of mode with me. But, I don’t know. People generally say I am gentle. Yeah. That’s about it.
Q: What’s your favorite ice cream flavor? If you like ice cream.
A: Oh, I used to like coffee the best. but it used to bother me with sleep. I had to change it to hazelnut.
Q: What does the perfect lazy day look like?
A: Well, a lazy day would be a day when I can get up when I get up naturally, instead of the alarm waking me up, and where I have time to read a good book. A lazy day would be where I could actually have time to exercise.
Q: If you had to wear the same T-shirt with one word on it every day for a year, what word would you choose to have on it?
A: You know there was one T-shirt that I had that I got the most compliments for, or not compliments, but people noticed it and made comments on it. That T-shirt is gone now, but it had the word “praise” on it. And just, I still remember that T-shirt. It’s gone, but, you know, like whether it be in aisles at Meijer and some people respond, “Amen,” or something like that.
Q: What’s your favorite moment from the past year?
A: I don’t like anything from 2020, it’s hard on so many levels. So I have to revert back to 2019. I think just coming to Living Water was such a special calling from the Lord because until then I always served, in one form or another, a Korean-American church. So I served one pretty much homogeneous group of people who are a minority within the American setting. I mean, me being a Korean American, [it was effective]. But there’s one side of me that always felt a little sad. That is, I could not go to everybody and ask them to come to my church because they would feel completely out of place. That really was one downside if I have to say. But coming to Living Water I experienced freedom to ask anybody, stop anybody on the street and say, Hey, come to our church, and really encourage people to, so that has been a joy. It really freed me so much to be able to talk to anybody and invite them to my church and that was, you know, I would say it’s still one of the biggest choices that I remember [making], just belonging to Living Water.
That was Part I of our interview with Pastor Sung. Come back next week for Part II to learn about a childhood event that later brought him closer to God, what he does to find rest in his busy life, and his hopes for Living Water.
If anything resonated with you, feel free to reach out to Pastor Sung and start a conversation, and we ask you 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.