By: Craig Petraglia and Michael DeSantis
In the fifth grade, Jun Cho weighed 235 pounds. He was insecure of himself, and angry with those who would harass him. Today, in his senior year of college, Cho weighs 175 pounds. He says that, after opening up to God, Cho relinquished his grudges, forgave the ones who called him names and found his purpose in life.
The president of the Korean Christian Fellowship (KCF) at Stony Brook University, Cho calls for Christians and non-Christians to attend the Love Banquet in a few short weeks. “Our purpose is to get as many non-Christians to experience what the club is like,” Cho said. “We want to create a platform for them to believe as well.”
The KCF is hosting its outreach event of the fall semester on November 12th, from 8pm-11pm in the SAC Ballroom A. “It is our way of inviting the rest of the campus to come and get to know the love of our amazing God through singing performances, body worships, homemade videos, testimonies, and much more,” said Vivian Hoang, Vice-President of KCF and primary coordinator of the event. “While it is a way to introduce non-believers to God, it is also a revival for believers.”
“Our purpose is to get as many non-Christians to experience what the club is like,” Cho said. “We want to create a platform for them to believe as well.”
The club hosts one outreach event per semester, but KCF is pulling out all the stops ahead of the Love Banquet. Cho said the event usually includes testimonies and pastor readings, but this year they landed a rapper to entertain non-members rather than turn them off. “We don’t want it to be just a lecture. We want to create relationships and draw closer to each other,” Cho said.
KCF booked Chinese Christian rapper MC Jin for the banquet to perform his music for those who attend. “I really wanted to invite him so I took the chance and e-mailed him at the beginning of the school year,” Hoang said. “By God’s grace, I actually received a reply from him and he referred me to his manager, who has been coordinating with me ever since.”
Timothy Hwang, a junior at Stony Brook and member of the Korean Christian Fellowship, attended last year’s Love Banquet but is looking forward to this year’s to see MC Jin perform, and hangout with friends.
“We are all pretty close with one another, I’ve heard on some occasions that newcomers are a bit intimidated by how close we are with one another,” Hwang said. “We are very open to everyone, there is nothing to be intimidated about.”
Christianity is on the decline in the U.S., but it remains prevalent among Korean Americans. The percentage of Christians has declined 7.8% over the past seven years, according to a study published by the Pew Research Center in May 2015. Although Buddhism is most popular in South Korea, Christianity is the leading religion among Korean Americans at 71 percent.
“Eastern religions encourage self-effacement and sacrifice for the family,” said William Chittick, a Stony Brook University professor in the Department of Asian & American Studies. “Given the consumerism and narcissism of modern society, it is easier to be both Christian and modern than Confucian or Buddhist and modern.”
The Love Banquet is an attempt by the Korean Christian Fellowship to reach out to non-members, welcome them in and show them the way of God. “It’s about gathering together for a purpose,” Cho said. “A huge part of Christianity is not just your relationship with God and religion, it’s also your relationship with other people.”
All are welcome to attend the Love Banquet for a $3 entry fee. “Free food, come on. Why would you say no to that? We want you to have a good time and we give warm welcomes,” Cho said.