Manny & Sunny Kim
I was born in a hospital near the campus of UCLA where my father was a grad student in materials science engineering. I was told by my parents, having immigrated from Korea, just a few months prior, that they didn’t know any English names so they asked their pastor. He came to the hospital room and declared, “And he shall be named, Emanuel” which means ‘God with Us’. And hence, my fate was determined. With a name like that, how can you not become a pastor? So my name is Emanuel, but people just call me Pastor Manny.
I had the privilege of growing up on the UCLA college campus, where my father was involved with Cru and the Navigators. For as long as I can remember, I recall many different ‘visitors’ in our home. Our home became a place for Bible studies, prayer meetings and just fun times of laughter (and of course great home-cooked potlucks!). I remember thinking that this is the kind of life I wanted to live, surrounded by a community, and doing ministry on a college campus.
And my wife Sunny and I have had the privilege to do just that across several decades now. First on the campus of UC Berkeley for almost 20 years, and then having the chance to plant churches at UT Austin and then returning almost 40 years later (not quite Moses) to UCLA where we planted in 2013. We went out to Boston (providential given that I grew up a Celtics fan, though I grew up in LA) having moved out in the summer of 2021 to plant a collegiate church reaching the many schools there. We have been on the move and I suspect will continually be on the move. So thankful for how God has led us on this exciting journey of faith!
We are hopeful for all that God has in store!
I grew up in Fayetteville, North Carolina. How I ended up there is an interesting story for another time. I think I would have spent my entire life in North Carolina given my upbringing, which was filled with memories of friendly neighbors, swimming with my sister at the local swimming pool, and family trips to Myrtle Beach, SC.
But there was something about that provincial experience that created in me a deep desire to explore beyond the boundaries of my neighborhood. So I ended up in California where I went to school at a private women’s college, Mills College. It turned out to be a truly consequential decision! I was invited to our church as a freshman and I went, though I was not a Christian. I heard the gospel for the first time and I ended up becoming a Christian that first year. My life has changed dramatically ever since!
From North Carolina to Northern California to Texas to Southern California to the Northeast, it’s been an exciting journey. Because of the gospel, I grew in my heart for people and it has enabled me to take steps of faith way beyond what a little girl from North Carolina could have ever imagined. I am grateful and blessed to have experienced ministering to so many people, and particularly college students across different regions, learning their backgrounds and sharing the gospel with them.
We have 2 girls who joined us along our church planting journeys and it's been a thrill to see them becoming ministers of the Gospel too.