(Above) Jonathan Kim (second from right) with his family, flanked by the present and past COs of Yorkwoods CC, Lt Keesom Phanthaamath and Cpt Thomas Yoo

"I had never experienced a kettle campaign before,” says Jonathan Kim. “But my time volunteering at the kettles opened my eyes to what The Salvation Army was about. Almost every person who donated money had a story to tell, either dealing with how they had been helped by the church or how the life of someone they knew had been changed.

“The more I learned about these wonderful Christians, the more I knew that this was the right denomination for me.”

The Road to Canada

Born in South Korea, Kim worked as an officer in the National Police Agency, managing an IT and communication department.

“We had all that every young couple could wish for,” remembers Kim.

But the Kims felt a higher calling and, after five years on the force, Kim quit to enter theological school.

“It was not easy to leave our safe boat and walk on the water with heavy wind and waves as a disciple of God,” Kim says. “We had to lean on God without others’ help. But we had no regrets. God always helped us and provided what we needed, and there were no errors or mistakes.”

The Kims immigrated to Canada in 2008, where they ministered at a Korean church in Toronto for five years.

A Part of Something Good

Through a notice in a Korean-Canadian newspaper, Kim applied to be a kettle campaign volunteer at The Salvation Army’s Yorkwoods Community Church in Toronto in late 2015.

“I had been looking for somewhere to help out and a friend suggested the Army,” says Kim. “I didn’t know The Salvation Army was a Christian ministry. I just thought it was a social service organization such as the Red Cross or UNICEF.”

But Captain Thomas Yoo, then corps officer at Yorkwoods, took the time to tell Kim all about William and Catherine Booth, the history of the church and the mindset of the organization.

“Their motto, ‘Heart to God and Hand to Man,’ touched my heart,” says Kim. “The more I got to know about The Salvation Army, the more I realized how much this organization loves their neighbours and practises the Word of God.”

As he became more involved as a kettle co-ordinator, first Kim and then his family started attending Yorkwoods.

“We loved the church,” he says. “We worshipped there with many different cultures and peoples, and everyone was so friendly and welcoming. We wanted to be a part of that.”

It just seemed natural to the Kims to make soldiership the next step on their journey with the Army.

On Track to the Future

Kim and his family finished their soldiership preparation classes this past June and the entire family were enrolled as senior soldiers, “a time of grace for our family,” he says.

“The entire Kim family—Jonathan and his wife, Esther, and their sons, David and Daniel—are a devoted and compassionate Christian family,” says Captain Yoo. “The Salvation Army needs more people from multicultural backgrounds such as the Kims so that they can extend the kingdom of God to those who come to Canada as immigrants. I feel that God’s greatest commandment is mentioned in Matthew 28:19, ‘Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.’ ”

Kim is now a proud Salvation Army soldier.

“I show people who I am when I am wearing my uniform,” he says.

After attending Booth University College in Winnipeg, the Kims’ eldest son, Daniel, is now attending the University of Toronto. Meanwhile, the rest of the family is playing an active part at The Salvation Army’s Korean Community Church in Toronto.

“We want our family to serve God and serve our neighbours,” Kim says.

Now that Jonathan and Esther are soldiers, they believe officership is the next step for them.

“We’re not sure what the future holds,” he says, “but we believe that God will lead us in the best direction.”

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