If you want a sense of David Kim’s outlook on life, turn to Ecclesiastes 3:11: “[God] has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”
Kim calls that verse his “spiritual mac and cheese” – comfort food that nourished him in times of struggle as he embraced the Christian faith, coming from a non-believing family, and eventually decided to pursue a seminary education.
“When I was first getting into the church and being active, I didn’t really know what it meant to be Christian, other than going to church,” he said. “It was hard for me to understand many of the concepts. This verse tells me that God has made it so we can’t know everything. But he also gives us provision to see everything as beautiful.”
Kim began attending Bible study while in high school and was active in First Korean United Methodist Church in Richardson, near his undergraduate school, the University of Texas at Dallas (UTD). The church was a big source of support when his mother was diagnosed with colorectal cancer and ultimately passed away in 2016.
Ecclesiastes 3:11 also talks about timing – something that played a big role in Kim’s path to Perkins. He is currently in his second semester in the M.Div. program at Perkins’ Houston-Galveston campus, with plans to graduate in 2021 and pursue a career in the chaplaincy.
Kim, who lives in College Station, was able to make that work because his decision to attend seminary coincided serendipitously with the launch of the hybrid approach at Houston-Galveston in the fall of 2018. With the transition to the hybrid model, the Houston-Galveston Extension program’s previous Dallas campus residency requirement was waived. Houston-Galveston students take nine credit hours, or three courses, each semester and attend three semesters (rather than two) per year. Students are required to be physically present for 20 hours of face-to-face instruction—10 hours at the beginning and end of each semester—per class.
Kim had been pursuing a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering but by Christmas of 2017, felt a strong call to study at Perkins and pursue the chaplaincy. He applied, doubtful he’d be admitted, and if he did, expecting he would need to work full-time at least a year to make returning to school financially feasible.
“I got in and received a scholarship, so I felt God made a really clear path for me,” he said. The Houston-Galveston program, with its hybrid approach blending online and in-person coursework, allows him to continue to work part-time as a programmer.
Kim followed in the footsteps of his wife, Danielle Kim, a Perkins student at the Dallas campus who will graduate with an M.Div. in May. She is on track to be ordained as an elder in the North Texas conference.
Now, timing is on Kim’s mind again. Just as Danielle is near completion of her degree, he’s almost ready to begin the specialized coursework he’ll need for the chaplaincy. The couple is planning to move from College Station, where they live now, to Dallas sometime in the next year. He hopes to ultimately complete his degree at the SMU campus and to get additional training at a Dallas-area hospital or hospice.
Perkins was the only seminary Kim considered; he says it was a “natural choice.”
“The faculty is amazing,” he said. “Just being able to study with people whose names you hear regularly around the United Methodist Church: Abraham Smith, Billy Abraham, Ted Campbell – that’s wonderful,” he said, adding that his wife had talked often about the classes she was taking and the conversations she was having with these faculty members.
“My wife is a really good recruiter,” he said.