“I am thrilled to find out new place to be able to give our warm hearts,“ she, who has also led ‘Loving Globe Mission’ in Jacksonville, said in an interview with The Koreadaily Atlanta, in Duluth on Wednesday. “I would like to concentrate on volunteering activities to help the homeless.”
Pastor Esther Chae smiles during a recent interview with the Koreadaily Atlanta in Duluth, Georgia.
Esther confided she was homeless for three times in her past, and she knows what it is like to be hungry. She was born and grew up in a small town in South Korea and was adopted by a US Army couple who later left and deserted her when she was eighteen.
“I was living in San Diego, one day they’d transferred to other country without saying, I was left alone and that means I lost my family again,” Esther said. “My tender heart was broken. I had to go from place to place, It really turned everything upside down. I had a lot of questions, why me, why this happening to me?”
She made desperate efforts to survive but to no avail. In the end she was forced to rely on begging on street. Her fate was overturned in a church she first met ethnic Korean group in a Southern California suburb. They offered her a place to live and work.
“I was fully happy because I could talk to overseas Koreans including Korean nationals in my mother language,” Esther said. Ever since she has spent every Sunday in church, and passionately participated in volunteer work.
It also was in Southern California that she met Ray, a U.S. Army infantry officer and West Point graduate, who appeared at a restaurant she worked. “He was a tall and handsome gentleman looked like a movie star, it was literally love at first look. Although I prayed to God for having honeymoon lasting only twenty four hours. I actually couldn’t dare dream of pledging eternal love,” She said.
Later she heard God’s voice. “Jesus responded; ‘You are destined to marry Ray.’” Esther said she has heard the voice of Holy Spirit since then. She described His answer crept upon her like a calm heartbeat.
Even though she can hear the voice of God, Esther initially had no plans to go into ministry, thinking she would be a lovely wife. God’s plan changed her mind. She felt a strong call to the missionary. Her husband who was raised as a protestant in a strong Christian household didn’t allow her to go abroad and advised her “to go to theological seminary and think about it.” She decided at the end of the summer to enter the seminary.
She began attending seminary school in addition to caring for her husband and her four children. Looking back on those years of family, school and charity work, Esther isn’t sure how she could it. “I believe God and husband were giving me the strength for that and helped me through it,”
A homeless-turned-pastor, Chae said the call to ministry by the Holy Spirit is a special thing, although it was a long journey to Esther’s ordination by the Church. “Discerning the call to ministry is one of the most dramatic things in an individual clergy’s life,” she said.
“God has made a difference in my life. That’s why I am passionate about the way the church can make a difference,” Pastor Esther Chae said. “Because of my personal experience homelessness, I am sure I have a wonderful sense of how the faith community makes an important contribution to a lot of homeless.”
Esther has been involved in the charity program not only helping U.S. outreach service teams, but international mission works. Futhermore, She started on a new journey to add another chapter in Atlanta. “Sometimes God told me, ‘If they feel hungry, feed them.’” Pastor Chae gave a clear-cut answer without hesitation. It was in response to a question: “It looks like you’re still hopeful and optimistic about the church’s new chapter.”
“I think God gave me that vision, it’s a lot to thank God for, it’s a blessing for me to do homeless outreach ministries. The church doors are open every day. I want to make a literal sanctuary for the homeless who need a place to stay.” She said.
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