Meet the Coordinator: Q&A with Dr. Lloyd Kim

Oct 2, 2014
Dr. Lloyd Kim was called by the Committee on Mission to the World to be the next coordinator of MTW. This 42-year-old former PCA pastor came up through the ranks of MTW, first as a missionary and later as a field leader. A native of California, he graduated from UC Berkeley with a degree in engineering and worked as a consultant with Ernst & Young before getting his M.Div. at Westminster Seminary in California and his doctorate at Fuller Theological Seminary in New Testament Studies. 

Q Tell us how you came to be coordinator of MTW.

A Well, as background, let me tell you a story. I once asked my son if he would want to be a missionary someday. He said, “There is no way. That is the last thing I’d want to be. It is so much work, you have to live in these places that are dirty and eat strange food, there’s so much stress—there’s no way.” He paused. “Unless God calls me.”   As I think about this particular position, if someone were to ask me even a year ago, “Would you consider this?” I’d have said, “No way.” But that phrase from my son still applies: unless God calls me. And I do have a very keen sense that God is calling me to this. 

Q How did God call you into missions?

It was really more of a sober examination of who I am, and how God has made me, how God has equipped me. I grew up in a very small town in the central valley of California. Our family was the first Korean family to live in this town. There were some struggles with that, some identity issues when I went to university, where I was surrounded by diversity all over the place. I think God was preparing me for cross-cultural missions.   I grew up in a Christian family, but at Berkeley I surrendered myself to God and fell in love with Jesus. Berkeley is an environment where you cannot be on the fence. Either you completely reject your faith and the ideology that goes with it, or you become almost militant in holding onto your faith because of the environment you are in. And that is what happened. I said, “Jesus, take all of me.” 

Q You grew up in California as the son of immigrant Koreans. Do you feel being Korean-American will influence your position and the relations between the Korean PCA churches and the traditional—mostly white—PCA churches?

Among Koreans there is an incredible sense of ethnic unity. So I think that will play a role in my position. But in terms of the more practical, how does MTW better engage the Korean-American church, that question is not simple. We’ve got to ask ourselves as an organization, how do we build bridges? But in terms of just general perception, reputation, or whatever, it’s good that I’m in this position and it’ll be a good start to conversations.

Q How has your experience as a field leader influenced your ideas about moving forward as an organization?

Early on, one thing that was clear in our team dynamics in Cambodia was the need for trust and respect. When our team was small, it had a unique dynamic. But as we grew, we realized we had to change our game, change our ways, our expectations. I think we learned to live in community as a family, and we moved in a direction together. But we were not all the same. Our team was very diverse in every aspect: ethnicity, age, gender, socio-economic background, ministry philosophy convictions, etc.   We have differences, but when you have the gospel arrest your heart and you have this incredible culture of grace, it changes your perspective on differences—and I think we need differences. We need diversity—and we really need to emphasize this culture of grace that MTW has.   

Q You’ve mobilized a number of new missionaries. What do you look for?

My personal opinion—and I say this with all humility—is that we need to look for character and teachability. Because we change, circumstances change, ministry philosophies change. But for me what’s so important is: Is the person teachable? Is he humble? Does he have this willingness to work with others? That’s the beauty of MTW’s ministry values—having a learning culture, grace, transformation. 

Q What are MTW’s greatest challenges moving forward?

It’s too early to know for certain. I do know we need to recognize the diversity we have in the denomination, in our mission field and mission force, and find a way to move forward together. The fact is, the world is changing and the landscape of missions is changing. The role of national partners and the Church in the Global South are factors that are going to influence how we as an organization will move forward. Collaboration, being able to engage and partner with other groups, is also going to be essential.  

We have a lot to thank God for: those who have served in leadership, MTW’s financial position. But there are still opportunities for growth and room for improvement, and I do believe we need to continue to raise up newer, younger leaders. 

Q Can you share with us your vision for the future?

I believe our vision needs to be Jesus’ vision. What does He call us to pray? “Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” This vision is bigger than MTW, bigger than the PCA; it is a vision to see God’s glory fill the earth. Our vision is to see people transformed by the gospel, to see families reconciled, communities reflecting the ethics of the kingdom of God, and the nations worshipping our Lord and Savior. That’s how the Lord is moving us forward, with a vision bigger than ourselves. And I’m excited to be part of it. 

Q Will your wife continue to practice medicine?

She is considering that. She practiced part time in California, always trying to balance family and work. In the Philippines, she was the doctor for the street kids and medical outreaches. I think she finds great fulfillment and satisfaction in it. She also home schooled our children, and still home schools our youngest, Katy. 

Q Where do your other children go to school?

Our son, Christian, goes to a private Christian school and our oldest, Kaelyn, attends public high school. 

Q How did you meet Eda?

The church I was attending,  New Life Mission Church, Fullerton, Calif., planted a church in San Diego when I was working at Ernst and Young, just out of Berkeley. She was part of the San Diego church. I started kind of a courtship and called and tried to invest in her life. So we started to get to know each other, but there was no commitment. I felt like we couldn’t continue—have you heard of DTR? Define The Relationship. So I called and said, “Eda, I feel like we’re not being real. I feel like there’s got to be some sort of commitment if we are going to continue to move forward in this relationship.  She was silent, and so I moved on in the conversation. The next day, she said, “You know, how we were talking yesterday?” And I said, “Talking about what?” [Laughs because he knew where she was heading.] She said, “You know, boyfriend and girlfriend …” And I said, “Are you asking to be my girlfriend?” And she said, “Yes” And I said, “I will. I will be your boyfriend.” And so to this day I tell people, she asked me! 

Q How can we be praying for you?

First I want to say how grateful I am for the prayers that have gone into this whole process. In many ways, I feel like we are riding on the prayers of the saints right now. I do believe, though, that our family is feeling an underlying stress from leaving Cambodia and moving to Atlanta. We are still grieving the loss of friends, family, community. Just this past weekend we were saying all the things we miss about Cambodia. Looking on the bright side, my son said, “Well, if you get fired …” [Laughs] Please pray for support, a community of faith for us. And this whole thing about being coordinator. [Smile] I haven’t done it before. 

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Pray for eradication of the Ebola virus in West Africa. Pray that those living in the region would continue to follow health protocols even as the spread of the virus diminishes.

Pray for the young men and women who are enslaved in the sex industry in Cambodia. Pray also for the ministries we partner with who are helping victims find freedom.

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Pray for those in Turkey continuing to rebuild from last year's earthquake, and for continuation of the spiritual growth seen as a result.

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