Virtual corps becomes reality

Hard work and miracles generate growth at Phoenix Korean Corps.

by Aeran Oh, Lieutenant –

Participants in Phoenix Korean Corps’ “senior college.” [Photo courtesy of Phoenix Korean Corps]

At training college, the name of my virtual corps was the “Nothing Corps”; it was located in Arizona, and I found its name ominous.

Then, when the officer’s marching orders were announced last May, a friend predicted that we would be appointed to Phoenix, Ariz. at commissioning. This made me sad for two reasons. The first was that my daughter, Michelle, had had a skin problem for 14 years that became worse in hot weather, requiring that she wear long sleeves. The second was that our son David would be a senior in high school, and we would have to decide whether to take him with us or leave him behind.

So, I prayed that this move would not be ours.

However, at the Service of Appointments, Commissioner Philip Swyers joked with us and said we’d be going to a place that had nothing there. “Your appointment is the Phoenix Korean Corps in Arizona,” he announced. It was very hard to smile at that moment. I felt like God hadn’t listened to my prayer.

After that, I prayed, “God, this is not my will but yours. I believe you have better plans for me and my family.” And, I trusted him.

A beginning
In Phoenix, we found a corps building that was not new and was not attractive. It would be our home, though, and our place for serving God and the community. On the first Sunday about 10 people, including guests, attended the worship service.

From the first week, we began to clean the corps and serve our members. I can’t explain where my strength and joy came from, but Kihyun (my husband) and I knew that God was helping and encouraging us to do this.

We visited our corps members’ homes and opened the senior center. It didn’t attract many members, so we tried something new: we changed the name to “senior college,” and invited them as college students…and about 40 seniors joined!

We started classes in exercise, computer, Chinese writing, and a golf class. We served our best, and encouraged community people to donate food and serve with us. All of the events became big news in the Korean community papers.

Kettle problems and success
During our first four months at the corps, our continuing burden was the Christmas kettle season. We had little experience, and asked God to help us.

We started with just eight kettle stands, and after the first day ended up with six—two had been stolen. So we prayed harder, and declared to ourselves that we can do everything through God.

Since we didn’t have money to buy new kettle stands, we emailed other Southwest officers, asking for any used or broken stands and kettles they might have.

The Glendale, Sun City, Phoenix Central and Maryvale corps gave us stands and kettles, which added up to 21 kettle stands. We received permission from other corps to use their locations in the morning when they weren’t using them.

A miracle occurred. For eight years, the average kettle income had been $10-18,000; last year, it was an amazing $27,000. But this year, it was $76,000.

More miracles
I’ll finish by sharing what God did for our family. As I said at first, there were two reasons I was sad about the appointment. Michelle wore long sleeves because of her skin problems. For the first two months, her skin got worse and we cried out to God. Now, her skin is healed and she can wear shorts and blouses. It is another miracle.

The other reason was our son David, who is a high school senior. A friend took him into his home for the rest of the school year and he will join us this June, after graduation.

Our virtual corps name was the “Nothing Corps” and God has sent us to the “Everything Corps.” God faithfully blessed us in an incredible way. I believe that though we do not have power to do miracles, in his hands we can do anything for his ministry and glory.

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