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From Attendee to Pastor in Korea


BUSAN, South Korea – I have been living in Korea since September 9, 2001. As I was preparing to leave home to come here, my pastor gave me some wise advice. He encouraged me to find a local body of believers and meet with them regularly. My first year in Korea (which was supposed to be my only year) was spent in Gwang-ju in Jolla Province where I was able to find a local church for fellowship. It was a Korean church that had an English service. The structure was more formal than I was used to but, the people were nice, helpful, and encouraging.

My second year in Korea brought me to Busan. Again, I took my pastor’s advice and searched for a local church. Busan had several to choose from. I picked one and settled in. However, after some time, I began to feel that there was more I could offer in my service to God. In 2004, I made my first step in doing something more; I helped a local Korean church start an English ministry. This was a really valuable experience for me as it allowed me to see the inner workings of a Korean church and how it was put together. It also allowed me to learn that a senior pastor’s vision for an English ministry doesn’t always equate with success. 

This service limped along for a little over 2 years until I resigned in July 2006. I again attended another local English service. However, once again, I was not content just watching. In addition, now that I knew how the Korean church worked, I began to want to do something independent of a ‘mother’ church. By late winter 2007, there were some others of a similar mindset. After many discussions and a lot of prayer, in April 2007, we launched International Community Church (ICC). 

ICC began small with about 15 people the first Sunday. The other leaders and I had no idea what would happen over the next several years. Today, ICC is a vibrant and growing international congregation with over 100 people on any given Sunday. People from the United States, Canada, Haiti, Brazil, Korea, South Africa, Australia, Indonesia, and New Zealand participate in our services.

As the church grew, so did the responsibility of preaching, organizing, and shepherding. For one thing, each semester more and more people found their way to ICC. We started offering more Bible studies, and doing more activities. I have to say, planning for 20 people is a lot easier than planning for 100. Thus, over time, we added more leaders. In January 2010, we added two leaders to help share the workload bringing the total to five. 

ICC Leaders: Matthew Ambrosia, Patrick Boyle, James Howard, Joon Cho and Peter Kupisz

Then I took it one step further: I was ordained as a Pastor on July 5, 2009 by two pastors from Second Story Church in Peoria, IL that ICC has close connections with. A person cannot just get ordained because he wants to. The ordination process involves theological questions as well as an observation of one’s life; in this case, it was mine! It was a fun process and I knew Pastors Chris and Joe who interviewed me and worked with me throughout the process. It involved a great deal of study and a lot of work, but I did it and am now a fully ordained pastor.

Each year, we celebrate our anniversary in April. This year on Sunday, April 11th, we are having a huge cookout to celebrate with all of our friends. We are calling it ‘Friend Day.’ Everyone is invited to join us at church at 10:30 am. In the mornings, we serve freshly made Krispy Kreme donuts and fresh brewed coffee. After service, we walk to our cookout area where hamburgers, hot dogs and numerous other goodies will be served.

Members of the ICC Congregation

ICC services are every Sunday at 10:30am at the Busan University of Foreign Studies Minerva Hall. If need directions or you want to know more about ICC visit their website.





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