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The Bad Kimchi Club

The joy of connecting with others.

It’s one of those days – all gray and grouchy, the sun seeming to have pulled the sheets over its head and gone back to sleep.

I’m sipping coffee on my yellow recliner, trying to feel as happy as the chair looks. 

And that’s when she calls.

“Emily?” my pastor’s wife says. “I made you some kimchi.”

Trent and I lived in Korea for a short spell, teaching English and riding a red scooter and climbing mountains, before having kids. Now we go to a church where our pastor’s wife is Korean, and she loves me because I love her kimchi. 

And she’s always apologizing for it, like it’s not very good. “Someone asked me to teach them how to make kimchi,” she tells me, “but I told them, in order for me to teach, I need to know how…”

And then she thanks me for having such a generous mouth that loves her kimchi, and would I like some? She’s put a jar in the church office for me. 

And even though the day is still tousle-haired and under-slept, I suddenly feel as cheery as my yellow chair. Because my pastor’s wife didn’t call me to do something “important” at church. She didn’t call me pretending to be interested in my life for the ulterior motive of asking me to join a committee. She called me because she made me a gift. 

She made me bad kimchi, and she thanked me for letting her give it to me. 

“Long live the bad kimchi club!” she texted me later, and I laughed for the sheer normalness of it all. 

Start with supper

Sometimes, Church, we over spiritualize things. God is in everything, and is everywhere, and is making all things complete. “For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things.” (Eph. 4:6)

All things. Including kimchi. 

Sometimes, Church, the world wants to get near to God but they can’t because we’re standing in the way with our hymnals and our fake smiles and our ulterior motives. 

Let’s get real. First, let’s get real with ourselves. Let’s acknowledge that we’re not as great as we think.

Then, let’s get real with others. Instead of waiting for the world to come to us, let’s go to them.

Let’s call them up for the sheer joy of connecting with another human being. Let’s ask them how they’re doing, and mean it. 

When Jesus saw Zacchaeus, he didn’t once ask him to change his ways. Instead, he just asked if he could come over for supper. 

He ate with him. And who knows, maybe Zacchaeus wasn’t a very good cook, and that’s what made him so impressed with Jesus – because Jesus didn’t complain about his cooking. Maybe that alone made him want to give everything away. 

Because when we accept one another for who we are, and what we can give, then we do that very thing Jesus came to teach us – Love. 

Long Live the Bad Kimchi Club.

Author

  • Emily Wierenga is a wife and mother who is passionate about the church and lives in northern Alberta. She is the author of the memoirs Atlas Girl and Making it Home (Baker Books), and the founder of a non-profit working in Africa and Asia.

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