Looking back, Sarah Jung realizes that God wanted her to think outside of the box. All along, she thought she needed to get a house as the ideal space for As We Dwell.
Editor’s Note: This is the final article of a 3-part series written by Ashley Kim on As We Dwell. To read part one, click here: DTLA Arts District Space: Dwellers Work, Create and Do Life Together. Part two, click here: Faithful Artisan: When LA Becomes Your Mission Field
“God wanted me to curate what feels like a house, like a home. So now this warehouse space actually feels like a home,” Jung said.
When Jung began pondering what to name her space on 1131 E. 5th Street, she was reading the Old Testament. “I wanted a word that would really invite people,” Jung said.
During her reading of Deuteronomy, the phrase “dwelling place” kept popping out to her.
“I really liked the phrase ‘As We Gather’ but I knew that would make it super clear that this space is faith-based. I wanted a word that was a little more neutral so that it could really invite people into here,” Jung said.
Though many of her dwellers are Christian, Jung did not intend As We Dwell to be a faith-based space. “It’s definitely at the heart of it because that’s who I am. But I wanted to make this space so neutral and safe. I didn’t want anyone to feel like they didn’t belong because they weren’t of a certain religion,” Jung explained.
Construction of the space began last December. The contractor not only did all the contracting work but also offered to pick up all the furniture Jung needed for her space. He offered to pick up the items wherever they were found, and that was ideal because she was on Craiglist, Goodwill, and “all these different thrift stores, scouring the city for furniture.”
At first glance, many people often mistake As We Dwell to be a furniture store because of its Pinterest-worthy ambience.
“In the beginning, I was about to go the mid-century route, but I realized how much I appreciate all different looks. I like vintage and antiques. I also appreciate contemporary. I love boho. As I started shopping around and looking, I decided I kinda wanted it all,” Jung explained.
Each section of As We Dwell offers a different vibe. There’s the Sun Room at the storefront, where the sun hits and the succulent displays greet passersby. There’s also the Conference Room, also known as the Dining Room, Gathering Room, Workstation Area, Common Area, Workshop Area, and Boho Lounge Area.
“I really wasn’t sure how it wasn’t going to all look in here, to be completely honest. I thought it might look a little funny, but I decided to just go for it,” Jung said.
Jung’s personal favorite spot is the Dining Room, which was once an old elevator shaft and is now a coveted meeting place for any gathering, conference, or workshop.
On one occasion Jung prayerfully went to a Goodwill looking for chairs for the Dining Room. She had specifically envisioned a long table with mismatched dining chairs.
“When I went inside [Goodwill] they had a galore of chairs. I asked why they had so many chairs today, and they said someone had delivered over 60 chairs 45 minutes prior,” Jung said.
Beyond furniture, there’s the people.
Lori Davidson and her husband, Jimmie Davidson, who is the lead pastor of The Brooks, are among many dwellers whom God is attracting to As We Dwell.
Lori said the welcoming and uplifting environment of As We Dwell is what makes it a perfect church plant location.
“Out of all the feedback we received after our first service, everyone talked about how inviting this place is,” Lori shared.
This feedback was good news for the Davidson’s because the goal of The Brooks Church is to reach people where they are. “We don’t expect people to be who they’re not. We just want them to feel comfortable and at home. It’s a place for them to belong before they believe,” she said.
“It’s the people that I believe God’s been bringing to this space who are believers with a very similar heart. It’s really about loving non-believers and believers just the same, not seeing them to be any different,” Jung said.
Jung described that the target audience of As We Dwell is the sojourners, orphans, and widows. It was during the same reading of Deuteronomy that Jung not only got the name for the space but also identified these three groups of people that God highlighted to her.
“The sojourners would be the entrepreneurs and business owners that come in and out of this space. The orphaned and the widowed would be the homeless community right next to us,” Jung explained. “And possibly, if God wills it, and it’s part of what’s He’s doing, is when As We Dwell goes global, that it would still be those same three — the sojourners, the orphaned, and the widows, whatever country that would be.”
As Jung traveled to different countries, she would often meet artisans with unique talents and felt an urgency to support in some way. Jung’s heart includes opening up multiple As We Dwell locations throughout the world.
“When you have a safe place to express your creativity, you can release freedom, unlock hope, and increase faith,” Jung shared. “I would love to see a multiplication of kingdom dwelling places, and it would be a privilege to be chosen to partake in the process of that expansion.”
Jung is intently looking for a multitude of partners to come alongside her to steward the current location well and also be a part of the expansion of As We Dwell.
In fact, Jung expressed that this entrepreneurial journey as a missionary has been far from glamorous.
As she candidly shares on her blog, “The early stages of building As We Dwell was a glimpse of God’s miraculous provision, and I expected everything else would fall into place in that same manner. Only to discover, God had other plans. More than the space and more than my calling, God cared more about my heart…Each month it was a new thing He was doing…releasing me from feeling territorial over my possessions, revealing I still struggle with the judgment of others, rooting out ungodly ideologies of finances, reaffirming that I do hear His voice and to not be consumed with doubt.”
She continues, “Since this is an unconventional business that is focused on people instead of profitability, I made the decision to humbly and boldly invite anyone that wants to partner with As We Dwell to actively be a part of the process.”
You can access the rest of this entry here.
This blog is also a special space where Jung has vulnerably processed her heart for others to witness God’s work in her life.
One entry from Jun. 9, 2016 was written while Jung was in Mozambique.
She reflects that starting her business (Faithful Artisans) and going to Africa were not a part of her plans.
“If someone told me I would be leaving the teaching profession to take a risk as an entrepreneur, I would’ve never believed it. I invested 12 years trying to perfect the art of teaching, and over time it provided stability and security I didn’t want to give up,” she writes.
“The vision of Faithful Artisans has evolved into something beyond my imagination and capabilities, but I trust I am the right fit to steward what was given because my Creator is the source of my creativity and abilities…The opportunities for creative expression is limitless, and I believe Faithful Artisans can be the place where others and I can learn to explore and discover hidden talents.”
It is interesting to note that the word “artisan” is first mentioned in the Bible in Exodus 31. Bezalel and Oholiab are set apart as artisans, “filled with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft [Exodus 31:2-5, ESV].” These artisans finish building and designing the dwelling place of the Lord, the tabernacle, which is a glimpse of what would eventually become the temple of God.
It seems that God first established Jung as a faithful artisan herself so she could curate a dwelling place for Him and His people.
In the New Testament, God calls His people a dwelling place [Ephesians 2:22, ESV]. 1 Corinthians 3:16 (ESV) says, “Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you?”
Truly, the aesthetic appeal of As We Dwell goes beyond its physical environment. The beauty of this space is not only in the people who dwell there but also the God who dwells and works in each artisan.