Responding to the Call to Chaplaincy
Greeting Brothers and Sisters! My name is Joseph Han of the USA, and I am responding to God’s call to chaplaincy. Born in the outskirts of Seoul, Korea, my birth name is Han Kee Ha. My Christian name is Joseph. In the USA, I go by Joseph Han. In the 60s, the poor in Korea lived in the hills with little to no infrastructure to support convenient systems for water, sewer, and power. I have wonderful memories of growing up near our extended families. For fun, the dozens of kids, about 50-100, in the neighborhood gathered for our favorite outdoor games. With so many kids, even a simple game of tag would last for hours.
Leaving Korea for the USA
When I was ten, my parents took their five children, left their home and life as they knew it to provide educational opportunities for us. When we arrived in Sonoma, California, it was as if we entered the promised land, flowing with candies and chips! I was a kid in paradise. It did not take me long to get used to this new life of ease and comfort.
While I remember going to a Catholic church in Korea, even becoming an altar boy, the church was not a big part of my memory. In the USA, we became religiously Catholic, attending Sunday mass, even though we did not understand English during our first two years. As a kid, all I knew was that the donuts and hot chocolate followed the second kneeling. While gaining fluency in English, we were faithfully religious all through my 4th, 5th, and 6th grades. We attended the church’s school in the 6th grade. During my junior high and high school years, Mom becomes more “protestant-like,” but the rest of us were much less focused on religion.
Dring my USMCRD training (Bootcamp) months in 1982, I became a more became “devout” Catholic on Sundays. Being religious was a way to escape the vigilant corrections of the drill instructors – for one hour a week.
Got on the Horse – Rode Too Fast
My first come to Jesus moment was during an 8-hour drive home after graduating from Bootcamp. My oldest sister, who became a Bible-thumper and married a fellow Bible-thumper, ganged up on me to share the Scripture. I was, fortunately, a captive audience hungry for a friendly, loving voice. My decision to follow Christ, in hindsight, was a rational decision, one based on logic.
Emboldened by my status as a U.S Marine and energized by my new-found faith, I entered my college years ready to take on the world. I became a fervent Bible reader and engaged immediately in debates with believers and non-believers alike. Believers around me, seeing my zeal and “potential,” advanced me in leadership roles prematurely. As Professor Henry Reyenga points out, leaders should not be quick to advance young believers into leadership roles.
During my college years, I found myself as a core leader of several fellowships, an elder of a startup church, with a growing reputation as “a mature leader in the church.” Privately, I was under conviction. With the realization of my turbulent walk with Christ, one filled with deep joy and delight, only to be thwarted by an unsanctified life of pride of life, lust of the eyes, and the lust of the flesh.
Thrown off the Horse
Wanting to be holy as God is Holy, I pushed myself to become holy in all that I did. The harder I tried, the more hypocritical I felt. At some point, realizing that I was Pharasaric and Sadusaic – I became highly critical of myself, other believers, and the church. I declared my faith to be impossible to live.
For years, I preached on God’s grace, but I did not understand it. While I preached salvation by grace, I was personally living under the law of works. I had no mentors, and I was too embarrassed to seek one. I completely pulled back from leadership roles in the church. Unable to pull back completely, I sat in the back seats of several churches I attended. Having walked away from the light and the warmth of the fellowship, it was a dark and lonely period of my life.
Marriage and Renewal
Fast forward a decade, I married an unbeliever. I stopped going to church. It did not take long for Rhonda to realize that something was missing for her, that getting married did not fill the void she longed to fill. I sensed God drawing her. We started attending Claremont Emanual Baptist Church. I went on several Mexico mission trips with the church during my college years.
Going back to an evangelical church was a convicting experience. My heart had hardened over the ten-year rejection of my calling. I sat in the back rows of the church in guilt, resentment, then anger. For a year, I sat in the back rows, arms crossed, doing my best not to listen.
A year later, we had our first child. When Josh was a one-year-old, as I found myself next to Joshua’s bed, a deep sense of fear entered my heart and mind. God instilled in me a deep love for another human being that I had not experienced and did not understand. Overwhelmed, I began to cry in helplessness. Amidst my outcry, God spoke to me. “This love you have for your child is just a fraction of my love for you.” My cry triggered by uncontrollably intense fear became a belly cry of deep gratitude. Grace, God’s unmerited favor! I preached it but did not know it. Now, I felt it, experienced it, and understood it.
Back in the Saddle Again?
Energized by the renewed sense of calling, I was ready to “get back into” church leadership. God said I was broken and needed healing. Two years later, my opportunity to serve finally came. I was to be a vocational pastor leading the small group and Sunday School ministry. We started numerous home fellowships.
However, a change in my job took us out of California and into several churches. I remained connected to my local church in men’s fellowship and teaching Sunday School classes, but was “too busy” for a role as a church staff. Numerous moves later, with four children all grown, I wonder where the years have gone.
Responding to God’s call to Chaplaincy with CLI
Now, after a thirty-year career in higher education, I am semi-retired. Currently consulting, teaching, and serving as a part-time law enforcement officer, my dream is to serve as a chaplain for a law enforcement agency. My education includes: Doctorate in Education Leadership, Masters in Business Administration, Masters in Organizational Leadership, Certified Ohio Peace Officer, and Certified Law Enforcement Executive.
For a brief second, I considered a “shallow ordination” path to chaplaincy. However, I just can’t! Seeking affordable training and ordination, I am drawn to the Christian Leaders Institute Training. It may take me a year or more, but the gifts, life experiences, and calling points me to serve as a chaplain. Now, responding to the call to chaplaincy, I have a mentor in place and the Christian Leaders Institute to guide me. I am God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God has prepared in advance for me to do.
By His grace and in His service,