For the past 6 years that I’ve known Drew Hyun, this question has consistently come up randomly near the beginning of every conversation that we have. There are many funny things I could get into just based on this alone (like what exactly would he do with the information if I were to answer?), but that’s not why I’m writing this post. Yesterday was Drew’s last Sunday as pastor of New Life Fellowship, the church I’ve been a member of for the last 6 years and the place I first met Drew.
There have been many personally significant people who have left New Life through the years, but this one is having the deepest and most profound effect on me. It’s going to take awhile to process this loss. It’s not like I won’t ever see Drew & Tina (his wife) again – in fact – they’ll probably be staying around New York for awhile. But I knew this was going to be tough when I woke up yesterday morning and suddenly broke down while routinely checking my e-mail. He’s really leaving. Today’s his last day.
I was a mess all day yesterday and today I’m trying to formulate some concrete thoughts on how much Drew has meant to me and to our church. This is really important for me and I hope that you can share in the joy (in the future that Drew and Tina have before them) and pain (of them leaving our immediate community) I am experiencing now.
Six years ago, I arrived at New Life totally burned, broken and searching for real community. When I first walked through the doors, I was overwhelmed by the crowd (it’s a rather large church) and wondered if I could ever fit into such a socially diverse, multi-generational, multi-ethnic church. I had grown up in the Korean-American church and my small experiences with churches outside of that were few and unpleasant. I remember distinctly that first day, though, a young pastor welcomingly greeting me and my friend who happened to be visiting that day. He didn’t hesitate to start a conversation with us and made us feel really comfortable in that sea of people. Little did I know that the next 6 years would be a completely life-transformative journey for me.
That was also the first of many fun, interesting and memorable interactions with Drew. In the next 6 years, I witnessed Drew leading small groups, planning and executing countless retreats, teaching classes, preaching messages that made me cry almost every time, marrying people (even some of my best friends in life), ushering people into heaven, etc. etc. etc. times infinity and beyond. He did SO MUCH for our church. But for me, the most memorable moments of Drew are the times when he personally invested in people. He is just that kind of person – completely relationally driven. And it is so evident in who he is and how he lives.
Where do I start?
He remembers people’s names. That might not really sound like a big deal, but I mean, he really remembers names. Even if he meets them just once. A couple of years ago, I took a leadership class offered at my company and our instructor said that we don’t remember people’s names because we simply don’t care about them. Cold truth, but truth indeed. The fact that Drew remembers a person by his/her name is indicative of so much. Drew also has a knack for making people feel comfy in a group setting by…. calling them out and embarrassing them. In the best way possible. He has a gift for making a person feel really special, and I think it’s because he really believes it. Drew believes in people – and their wishes, hopes and dreams. He is the reason I started to get over my fears in pursuing music, and had he not been persistent in encouraging me, I would not have continued to write songs, record albums, try out for American Idol (!), and play out in this great City of New York. I would not have had the courage to pursue my dreams. I know he’s done this for many, many people. Drew is committed to the gospel and seeing lives changed, including his own, and does this best by way of vulnerability. That v-word has a bad connotation in our society today, but I believe it can be the conduit for authentic relationship and transformation. Drew epitomizes that in his leadership, friendship and just… anything-ship. He loves on people, especially those who may not fit in or belong anywhere in mainstream society. This part brings tears to my eyes every time I see it.
I can go on and on. But I’ll leave it at that. If our community came together to list out every way that Drew has touched our lives, we wouldn’t have enough room on this simple blog post. I guess the last sentiment that I want to leave this post with is the fact that it seems that now it’s time for us to believe in Drew the way that he’s so believed in us over the years. A couple of months ago, I wrote a post about dreaming and helping others to achieve their dreams. I can’t help but think of that post now as I think about Drew leaving New Life.
Drew, Tina, I believe in you and I believe that God has amazing, amazing things in store for you as you embark on this next chapter of your lives. Much, much love to you.