Volunteers’ Journey

by U.J. Namkung (Volunteer of the Month)

Volunteers’ Journey

by U.J. Namkung (Volunteer of the Month)


It was the spring of 2006.  We had just returned to Orange County for the birth of our daughter, Irene.  After having served our first term as missionaries, we were supposed to go back after a one year furlough to start a Bible Translation project in Cameroon, Africa.

When unexpected difficulties in health  led us to  make a painful decision to leave our mission, we never imagined was how hard “normal” life would be in Orange County as a family of four financially.  All we had at that time were 8 suitcases and  10K in our retirement savings.

Both of us had prepared solely for the work of Bible translation since our 20s.  Since we joined the mission organization right out of graduate school, we had no careers or house to come back to.  When my husband started looking for a job in Orange County after we resigned, he was told by one interviewer that his training had no commercial value.  My husband had a bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Linguistics, and I was also finishing my master’s in Linguistics.  My husband was literally sending out tens of resumes trying to get a job anywhere.   Most of the responses were the same:  he was overqualified and underexperienced.


After a few agonizing months, my husband did manage to get a job at a small start-up company in LA that sold electronic parts.  He started his first and ever 8-5 job making minimum wage.  During his one year at this company, he made cold sales calls (which he hated), and started getting his feet wet in the business world.

Towards the end of that year, God planted a desire in my heart.  I prayed, “Lord, please put my husband in a midsize company where he could use all of his talents and grow as a man.  And wouldn’t it be wonderful if he would meet his spiritual mentor there?”


Ever since I met my husband,  I had prayed  for a spiritual mentor to come into his life.

For most of his growing up years, his father was working abroad to support his family, as well as his large extended family.  My husband had very little Godly male influence in his life.   I didn’t tell my husband what I had just prayed, but that same week, he told me that he had put up his resume online and that an interview request had come up right away.  It was with a midsize company that sold parts for computers and medical equipment.

At the first interview, my husband found out the reason he got the interview.  The interviewing Director of Sales was a devout Christian businessman and my husband’s resume caught his attention because of the Christian schools mentioned (Moody Bible Institute and Biola University).  He was simply curious to see who this guy was. At the end of the first interview, he told my husband, “You’re over-qualified, and under-experienced.  Let me help you find a job somewhere else.”

My husband came home crushed.  I had never seen him so down in his life.  But I prayed, “Lord, if this is the place you have for him next, let him find favor in the eyes of everyone involved.”  Amazingly, they called him for a 2nd interview, a 3rd interview, and then a 4th interview.  The president and CFO of the company were completely puzzled and scratching their heads as to why everyone wanted my husband instead of the other guys who had many years of experience in the field.  But the Director of Sales pushed hard to have my husband come on board his team.

After the 7th interview, my husband finally started working for the company.   Eventually in two years, my husband became his division’s inside sales manager.  He continued to advance every year after that.  But the biggest blessing was that finally, after years of praying, God sent my husband a spiritual older brother and mentor at this secular work place.  A few months after my husband started in the new company, his boss approached him one day and said, “Would you like to read a book and have discussions with me?”

When my husband told me about this, my heart soared.  I knew he was the one.    I had wondered  for all those 8 years when God would bring a mentor into my husband’s life.  I realized at that moment it took God all those years to prepare this man to become the mentor my husband needed.  While I felt that God was silent as I was praying in the dark, He had been working behind the scenes on our behalf all along.

This mentor became like one of OC United’s Champions in my husband’s life-stepping into my husband’s life intentionally to encourage, challenge, and share life.   So for the last  12 years, my husband and his Champion has been meeting regularly to read books, pray, and share.  This Champion was able to challenge and encourage my husband in areas that no one was able to touch.  As my husband says, “I would not have succeeded in the company without his consistent encouragement.”

Thirteen years ago, we started with almost nothing.  But now we’ve come a long way in every area of our lives.  The key was one Godly Champion seeing potential in my husband and taking a personal risk, pushing his company to open up a job opportunity for my husband.

Now our vision is to advocate for others who may just need that first open door.

U.J. Namkung and Family