God has always pulled me through at the last minute, so often to the point I should have confidently seen this coming. While enrolled in the Optional Practical Training (OPT) Program for a year starting June 16, 2014, I ultimately sought companies or universities to sponsor me for a work visa, the only realistic way for me to legally remain in the United States and look to eventually become a permanent resident. However, with rejection after rejection since college graduation, I gradually lost courage and wondered about my life’s purpose. Though willing to accept anything my Father assigns me, thinking about leaving the country where I grew up and received the vast majority of my education and most of my friends resided especially worried me. “I will do anything in Your will as long as You let me stay in the US” conquered my mentality rather than simply “I will do anything in Your will.”
Unsurprisingly, most of whom offered to help me find a job immediately forgot their promises, and my patience wore thinner and thinner. I was repeatedly misinformed a standard corporation could sponsor me by April 1 at the latest, any research-based institution or higher education by April 15—two months prior to the expiration of my OPT status—and international-student advisors will enter those who fail to be sponsored into the H-1B visa lottery, where one in three recent graduates will be selected. Thus, on April 15, I quit trying and hoped for the lottery to play in my favor until I found out no such system even existed. I was again misled I should apply for the green card lottery in spite of the ineligibility of South Koreans. Thanks to my research, I avoided giving up my debit-card information to scammers. I moved onto searching for opportunities in Western Europe and Australia, including applying to a graduate program in the United Kingdom. Although pessimistic as ever, I still believed, somehow, God would prevent me from returning to my home country at the last minute; nevertheless, each time I felt this, I asked myself, “How? April 15 was my last chance.”
Around the time I booked a trip to Iceland to relieve myself from this intolerable stress and praise God looking at His awe-inspiring nature, I was encouraged to do my own research on visa sponsorships and instantly discovered the claim about a research-based company or university needing to sponsor me by April 15 at the latest to be utterly false, as either could sponsor at any time of year. I was riled up to be so boldly and continuously given false information, because if I did not think to Google this myself, I would have obliviously relinquished my opportunity to dodge my greatest fear. I went on HigherEdJobs and entered “Korean” in the search engine, as I figured this skill to be my best shot to get me sponsored. When I read the description of “Korean-Asian Recruitment and Support Specialist,” one of the first results that popped up, I was hooked right away and spent nearly three hours polishing and submitting my résumé, cover letter, and application and praying specifically for this position unlike I had ever done.
While worshipping on top of Perlan in Reykjavik, Iceland, I reflected on my traveling and how God kept letting me find my way to my tours and museums at the last minute and imagined, “Maybe something will happen at the last minute with my visa status and I won’t leave the US.” More importantly, I for the first time started feeling inner peace and becoming open to temporarily returning to South Korea. When I had dinner with my brother and sister-in-law two nights following my return to America, they noticed my change in attitude and face. Right after that occasion, I checked an email from the University of Nebraska at Kearney for the aforementioned job. For a year, every time I saw an email from a hiring manager, I assumed it to be an automated message of rejection, but for an odd reason, I accurately expected to have gotten an interview. The search committee initially offered me a phone interview, and I told my close ones, “I wish it were a video interview so that it could be more personable.” A couple days later, the committee changed it to a video interview via Zoom. Based on the impeccable timing of everything since I sent out the job application, I had confidence I would be given the position even prior to the interview. The four members present were “all very impressed with” my answers to their questions and put me on the short list of recorded interviews to be viewed by the Assistant Vice Chancellor for International Affairs upon his return to the States from China. He, having enjoyed my positive attitude and high energy, called and gave me the job, and human resources jumped onto the process of sponsorship straightaway.
God pulled me through at the last minute again. I knew He was training my patience all along and something would save me from leaving America, but the longevity of this mental adversity drained me to the brink of surrender. Seeing my problem resolved promptly after I genuinely thanked God and felt peaceful, I learned appreciating whatever circumstance to be key to making Him happy and thus success, as the Apostle Paul teaches, “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).