No Longer An Outsider (Servant), I Call You Friend

A Reflection of Gospel-Centered Relationship

By Wes Bontreger 

The Yellow Creek Mennonite Church congregation is deeply grateful for the opportunity to share fellowship with Sungbin, Shinae, and Seungju and for their significant contribution to the service and leadership of our ministries. We continue to joyfully support and partner with them in mission with God’s blessing and rejoice in our lifelong friendship. 

John 15:15-17 reads:

I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.  You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other.

Sungbin is an outstanding person of character, faith, and integrity. He is committed to using his gifts for God’s purpose in the world. He came to Yellow Creek Mennonite Church six years ago. Originally from South Korea, he transitioned from a Presbyterian background in ministry to pursue Anabaptism as a student at Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary. Prior to his arrival in the United States Sungbin made significant connections with many in the growing Anabaptist Network in South Korea, connecting with Yellow Creek’s work in a church planting in Seoul and related mission agency gatherings.

Sungbin’s faith journey demonstrates a strong commitment to a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a desire to faithfully follow God’s call. His lifestyle, relationships, and spiritual care of his family deeply convey both consistencies with scripture and an attitude of Christ. Sungbin is genuinely humble, compassionate, and faithful in prayer. His personal practice of spiritual disciplines is inspiring.  

Sungbin demonstrates a keen ability to navigate cross-cultural, racial, ethnic, and language differences with genuine compassion and understanding. During his years at Yellow Creek, he joyfully served in teaching, preaching, and worship leading. For three years he took the role of Worship Coordinator for the congregation. This is especially notable given the need to use his second language, in which he quickly gained proficiency and some humor with staff assistance. A regular part of staff meetings included time to clarify the meaning of idioms, references, or sayings which were new to Sungbin. One example was “your eyes are bigger than your stomach.” We laughed a lot together and frequently had to look up the etymology of certain phrases. 

Sungbin also showed exceptional ministry versatility as a Jail Chaplain for the Elkhart County Jail.  He became the first chaplain specifically assigned to the Work Release Center which was deeply appreciated by the inmates and affirmed by the jail staff and officials. Sungbin also pioneered a new ministry in the jail in the formation of a first-ever jail choir that performed in various services. These choir services were spiritually moving experiences where the redeeming power of God’s love in Jesus Christ was so evident in joyful expressions of praise and victory.

Sungbin is deeply committed to a faith understanding and sense of calling focused on gospel-centered peace, reconciliation, and holiness. He models a sincere and respectful manner of relating to others personally, and he effectively connects with people from a wide range of faith perspectives. 

It has been a blessing and honor to walk with Sungbin as a mentor, supervisor, and co-worker in ministry. I affirm his pursuit of a genuine call to further the kingdom of God “on earth as it is in heaven,” as he continues to be equipped through his doctoral studies at Asbury Theological Seminary this fall.  Sungbin’s love and commitment to God’s written word will continue to energize his theological studies and preparation for continued service.

The picture above: Yellow Creek Mennonite Church

Yellow Creek Mennonite Church is a community of believers striving to put genuine faith into practice.  While they have a long history, they are defined more by their love for others and the pursuit of God’s call. Their mission is to call and prepare everyone to be fully committed followers of Jesus Christ. Yellow Creek Mennonite Church is located in Goshen, Indiana. They joined LMC’s fellowship of churches in June 2018.

Wes Bontrager serves as the Senior Pastor at Yellow Creek Mennonite Church. Wes and his wife Cheryl were married in 1991 and have 3 children, Benjamin, Jesse, and Mallory. Wes is a root beer connoisseur and enjoys fishing in Canada as well as traveling anywhere.

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