“Find a need and meet it, find a hurt and heal it,” has grown from a revelation to a way of life in City Harvest Church. In the midst of COVID-19, this continues to be the way of life for church members. In the first instalment of this new series, Huang Shilin, kimchi maker at Saranghay Kimchi shares the story of how she and her husband Johnson Hay started this home-based business and have been using its profits to give back to the community.
“One month into the Circuit Breaker, while our kids were doing home-based learning and we were working from home, we found ourselves cooking a lot more than usual—we even started experimenting with food. I was on a sugar-free diet and wanted to try making sugar-free kimchi. So we asked our close friend Eileen Soon, who lives in Kuching, Malaysia for her recipe. Our trial turned out well: we had found a tasty way of ensuring that we were consuming enough vegetables daily.
“During the Circuit Breaker, we wanted to bless each of our cell group members, and we ended up spending quite a bit of money getting food and gifts online. My husband, Johnson Hay, thought that some of them would really appreciate homemade food, so we started making kimchi in bulk to deliver to them. At the same time, we also sent out our homemade kimchi to our relatives and friends.”
HOW SARANGHAY KIMCHI CAME ABOUT
“One day, Eileen and I were chatting about how our homemade kimchi made such great gifts. We started joking that our homes were now ‘kimchi factories’ and that we should start selling them and naming it Hay, after Johnson’s surname since it sounded like ‘Hey!’ We chose to call it Saranghay because it’s a play on Korean for ‘I love you’ and our surname. Our tagline is ‘Made with love’.
“We didn’t really have any real concrete business plans, but one morning, as I was tuning into a weekend sermon on The CHC App, a spark of faith hit me and I thought to myself, ‘We should really just try selling this kimchi. Why not?’ I got excited and asked Johnson for his thoughts, and without much hesitation, he said, ‘Let’s do it!’ Within the next couple of days, we set up the online order form and Instagram page.
“The day we registered Saranghay Kimchi as a home-based business—May 23— was also our 10th wedding anniversary! We had planned a mini-celebration, but because of COVID-19, it was canceled and we found ourselves at home, making kimchi instead. Johnson and I have been on pretty different paths in the past 10 years, but our lives, careers, and ministries have always been intertwined. This business is now a sweet signpost of the start of the next 10 years, where we would partner closer than before.
“When we first started the business, we would find time to make kimchi at night once our children fell asleep. Since then, we have developed a routine where we would make the kimchi fresh once a week on either Friday or Saturday, and deliveries would be made over the next two to three days.
“We have four types of kimchi now: the classic napa cabbage, radish, pineapple, and spring onion. Cucumber kimchi is coming up soon! We have a standard menu that is free from gluten and preservatives; and we have a healthier menu that is also sugar-free and keto-friendly.
“We are not very ambitious, and we are not thinking of making this a full-fledged business with a proper kitchen or storefront. On average, we have about 25 to 30 weekly orders, which is really manageable for us now. We enjoy having this extra allowance and giving the kids a few more luxuries like snacks and toys.”
FINDING A NEED TO MEET
“It was Johnson’s idea to give a part of our proceeds to the needy. He has always been a person that puts others first, often thinking of ways to help others. Before he even shared his thoughts with me, I already knew in my heart that any business we start would definitely end up as a social enterprise that would serve the community in one way or another.
“We decided to take a portion of our monthly profits to bless someone who was in need. We got to know of some cases through the leaders in our zones—those in need were either their members or acquaintances of their members. Instead of handing out cash, we brainstormed the best way to directly meet a specific need. One of the ways was to ensure they had food to eat. We recently gave a week’s worth of grocery vouchers and a big bag of kimchi to a single parent who had lost her full-time job and was doing a temporary cleaning job. We hoped that our giving would tide her family through this period.
“In August we gave our profits to a father who lost his job earlier this year and only recently found another one. His family had been going through a trying time financially, emotionally and spiritually. With children still in primary school, the family has really trying hard to keep their faith and to keep their finances for essentials, not entertainment. We bought them movie tickets so they could enjoy themselves and remember that God wants them to have fun despite what they are going through.
“During the recent service that featured the Coffee with Kong weekend edition, Pastor Bill Johnson (senior leader of Bethel Church, Redding) said that, ‘We Christians were designed to be people with answers, solutions and courage, and all of that stuff during difficulty.’ Even if we don’t get to pray for them in person, it still feels good to know we are meeting their needs so they will be reminded that God remembers and cares for them. The people whom we bless may not be from our church, or even Christians, but as long as we are aware of their needs, and it is within our ability, we will continue to bless a different family each month. For us, this is just the beginning—we look forward to doing more as God leads.”