Friday 6th October 2017: The Western Foyer at the Hills Campus was abuzz with activity. Korean Flags adorned the walls; lanterns in varied colours, shape and size hung from the ceiling. Several volunteers were busy dishing out packs and packs of bibimbap (a Korean mixed rice dish). Another group was busy preparing fruit punch, while a group of singers were making final sound checks and rehearsing their song item for the night.
The Korean community’s Cultural Night was about to get underway. Some of our kids and adults were dressed in the colourful hanbok, Korea’s traditional costume, to commemorate the event. Kim Brinsden, the Cultural Pastor at Hills Campus, officiated the event with a prayer. No less than 200 people were in attendance, many representing their home countries like Hong Kong, Malaysia, Philippines, Indonesia and Singapore. “The nations have indeed arrived at Hillsong Church”, said Pastor Kim, amplifying Psalm 2:8. After a hearty meal, a connect group of no less than 25 adults & kids from Cherrybrook took centre stage. They sang “Peng You” (meaning “Friends”) in both Mandarin & English accompanied by their multipronged instruments.
A Korean event is never complete without a K-pop item, which was exactly what two college students did. The crowd was in awe to the catchy beat, responding to the singers’ promptings in complete unison and joy. After a couple more entertainment items, it was time to call it a night, but the crowd continued to linger until late in the evening. Small groups could still be seen chatting along the hallway, the doorway and the walkway.
The event saw communities of varied backgrounds engaging endlessly with one another, like closely knit or long lost friends. There is no better time than now for all to come together as one with Jesus as our solid and firm foundation. To God be the glory!
We interviewed our Korean Cultural leader, Angela Kim, and asked for her thoughts on our Korean community and advice for new migrants.
Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been in Australia?
I came to Australia in 2012 to attend Hillsong College and have been living here ever since.
I work for church in the area of translation for our music and resources, and building our Korean community through interpretation services and Korean connect groups.
What is Korea famous for?
Obviously, K Pop and Korean drama TV shows these days, as well as the food. If you’re a technology person, there’s our famous IT technology and Samsung as well.
The Korean community of our church is very close knit. What’s one of the greatest challenges in building a Korean-Australian community?
Initially, I thought the language barrier was the biggest challenge for people to be planted in our church, but I realised over the time that the biggest challenge was actually the perception and idea that Korean people have towards “church” or “Hillsong Church” from their previous experiences or hear-say.
In most cases, it restricts their opportunity to genuinely experience being in a church community, which will give them so much room to grow as a Christian and flourish as a person.
What do you think is our Korean community’s greatest strengths?
Inclusiveness, accepting people “as they are” and generosity with “no strings attached”, which is rarely found in so-called migrant community and sadly, within the very competitive Korean society.
It’s often challenging to get people on board with us when they first came to our church just to attend the service, but once settled, they all say they found “home” that they know they are loved and valued.
What is your advice for new arrivals coming to Australia?
To have open-mind and don’t let your past experiences or other people’s opinions or fear hinder your opportunities to new experiences that can help you to grow.
Locate yourself in the right community that can, and will, do the seasons of life with you – and our community is definitely one of them!