December 2, 2017

Common Ground

By: Katie Briggs & Sung Kyul Noh

A writer from Texas and a ballerina from South Korea became roommates in Mississippi.

Living in a “new world” with a roommate from a “different world” surprised us both. We quickly realized that we had a language barrier. Communicating took time and patience. We didn’t understand each other’s culture, and discussing deeper things felt impossible. In time, however, our shared belief in Jesus Christ became our common ground.

One day, we decided to travel to an American swamp, something Sung Kyul (Susan) had never seen. We drove for hours and stopped in the middle of nowhere. “The GPS says this is it, but we’re in the middle of the road!” Susan said, confused.

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11 (NIV)


The search for the swamp was a lost cause, but we learned more about each other. We exchanged Christian hip-hop and K-pop music. We took videos and laughed a lot.

We became friends. Susan made tasty meals of rice, tuna, and seaweed. Learning that Koreans love spicy food, Katie hunted for the hottest hot sauce in the western world (Dave’s Insanity Hot Sauce won!). Google Translate helped us use more complex words to have deeper conversations. Susan taught Katie about something close to her heart: South Korea and its relationship with North Korea. She explained that these two countries used to be one and that Christian missionaries first visited what is now North Korea. Today, the countries are divided; many Christians and members of South Korean families are trapped in North Korea under terrible conditions and persecution.

One day, Katie experienced something hurtful and opened up to Susan about the situation. We cried together. We encouraged each other in Christ and prayed together. Through this, we became better friends, sharing more about our lives. We discussed how to have godly long-distance relationships with our boyfriends. We opened up about our family troubles and upcoming life decisions.

Wearing traditional hanboks

Later, we moved back to our hometowns. Susan’s father was diagnosed with cancer, and she felt the Lord leading her to care for her family. Katie would be married soon and felt God urging her to spend time with family before the wedding. We helped each other move and had lots of adventures in Texas and South Korea! We tried Texan barbeque and Korean kalbi. We wore traditional Korean hanboks and met each other’s family and friends. In South Korea, we visited an international church where people from every continent worshiped Jesus together, which broadened our understanding of God’s plan that all nations will come together and worship (Revelation 15:4).

Today, we live in South Korea and Illinois with half the Earth between us. We FaceTime every week to catch up and to encourage each other. We are learning that true faith friendships are like triangles, pointing us to each other and ultimately to God. God used our differences to highlight how alike we are in the ways that matter most. Even now, no barriers can stop us from walking in friendship and faith. We both look forward to visiting again in person and to seeing what God does next.


Katie and Susan love God, family, friends, ballet, and adventures. Susan’s favorite American dessert is a root beer float; Katie’s favorite Korean drink is grapefruit tea.


December 3, 2017


NEXT DAY STRETCH


What is the difference between a friendship and a faith friendship? God is! When God is part of a friendship, we treat each other with honor and respect; we love each other as God loves us. Reflect on 1 Samuel 20:1–42. David and Jonathan pledge their friendship in the name of God. Jonathan, heir to the throne, supports God’s plan for David to be king instead. These friends protect each other when King Saul, Jonathan’s father, tries to kill David. Their strong faith friendship is one we all can aspire to imitate!


Stronger Together

Many friends have strengthened my faith by reminding me of God’s truth in scripture, gently showing me when I need to change my ways, praying with me during hard times, sending notes to remind me I am loved, and holding me accountable for spiritual practices, such as prayer, Bible study, and worship with God’s people. We need each other. In times of testing or doubt, our Christian friends can help us through. When our faith is strong, we can encourage those friends in return. How will you encourage a friend in faith this week—call, text, hug, pray?

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