Renewal Fellowship: One Pastor’s Story

I’m not going to lie, but awhile ago I was struggling whether I need to keep my membership in the Presbyterian Church in Canada. It has been heart-aching to hear and see what’s been happening in my denomination for the last few years over the topic of sexuality. Also, thinking about my future possible ministry, which may take a very different look than all the traditional models the PCC is familiar with, I wasn’t sure if the PCC would provide me the freedom and blessing to the ministry and things I may like to do. I thought it may be easier if I look elsewhere or do something as nondenominational. Yes, I did look into other denominations and see what options they can offer to me and there were some who actively pursued me.

Then, there was a prayer, as usual. My wife and I really wanted to discern this one evening. We prayed, asking God what I should do. Then, the next morning, as usual, to do my QT (or daily devotion), I sat down with my coffee and opened up my Bible. I was reading through 1 Corinthians at the time and that morning’s reading happen to be Chapter 7 verses 17 through 24. One key verse was “In whatever condition you were called, brothers and sisters, there remain with God” (verse 24).

I don’t know about you, but I don’t believe in coincidence. I only believe in God’s timing. One of my favorite stories is Esther, and in chapter 6, the king, because he couldn’t sleep, ordered to bring the book of records to be read to him. The reading happened to be on how Mordecai happened to save the king’s life from assassination attempt. Now, do you think it was simply a coincidence? I mean, this was so timely because Haman was plotting to destroy Mordecai and the Jews and Esther and Mordecai and the Jews were fasting and praying for God’s intervention. The Bible does not explicitly spells out for us, but anyone can see there is God’s hand behind this.

Now, furthermore, I began to become connected to the group called “Renewal Fellowship within the Presbyterian Church in Canada,” (renewal-fellowship.ca) which I wasn’t aware of until its Executive Director, Rev. Andrew Cornell, contacted me and eventually invited me to consider joining its board. That morning, when I read 1 Corinthians 7, I saw the hand of God behind it, and I decided to be obedient to Him.

So, I’m happy to announce to everyone who prays for me and my family that I have joined the board of Renewal Fellowship. I had a little knowledge about this group even after I joined the board. But, soon I learned a great deal about it through reading its history document and attending the conference Renewal Fellowship offered on April 20-21, “Thriving in Babylon” in Toronto. This was such an excellent conference, featuring many of great speakers. I learned so much of my own denomination’s history and potential in future.

I’m not going to describe who Renewal Fellowship is to you. I want you to find yourself at its website (renewal-fellowship.ca), because honestly I’m still learning as well and I’m afraid I may misrepresent them. But, I want to share my another QT reading. Two days ago, on the day it was schedule to have RF board conference call meeting, my QT reading happens to be now on Isaiah 52:1-12. I felt this is so compelling to me as it provided me the hope and vision for my contribution to the RF and ultimately the PCC and the world.

Isaiah 52 starts with “Awake, awake,” a call to wake the sleeping city of Zion. Then it calls for holiness and piety from Jerusalem. Furthermore, you can see God is asking “captive daughter Zion” to shake herself from the dust, rise up and loose the bonds from her neck, claiming God’s salvation and blessing (vs. 2). I would like to see the day when my denomination shakes herself from the dust, rise up and claim God’s salvation and blessing… or can I (or we) start doing it right now? Right now, because verse 6 talks about how the prophet needs to foretell this, so that when it actually happens in future people will know that it is God who has done this. I love verse 9. God calls “ruins of Jerusalem” to break forth together into singing because “the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed Jerusalem” (look at the verbs’ tenses!) The city is in ruin and yet God says God has already comforted and redeemed the city! Can I (or we) be a watchman or “the feet of the messenger” who go over the mountains, who can see what others can’t see yet, and say to the discouraged, defeated and lost “Your God reigns!” (vs. 7).

Not only I find these verses prophetic for my involvement in the RF ministry, I also find these verses speaking strongly about my future here in London. I mentioned in my last blog that I would begin a weekly prayer meeting sometime in June. Here’s my vision for the prayer meeting. This prayer meeting is where we “break forth together into singing” in midst of ruins of London (spiritually, socially, mentally or physically or whatever) “for the Lord has comforted his people, he has redeemed [London].” O yes, I dare to claim this, not only my city, but for my country and the world. Look at verse 12, “For you shall not go out in haste, and you shall not go in flight; for the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard.” I can just picture God’s people, chin up and full of confidence. There is no shame or embarrassment about their faith, belief and hope. When that day comes, they will know there is God as our “rear guard” working in secret according to his perfect timing.

Please pray for us for the following:
1. Grace and I will be filled with God’s power and wisdom during our time in a conference called “Amazing Grace” in Vancouver.
2. Travel mercy in our trips to Vancouver and to South Korea.
3. I can’t share everything yet, but God has revealed something to me and I’m being obedient to him by going to Jesus Abbey in South Korea. Pray that God will make things clear to me what this visit may have for my future.
4. We may begin planning for a weekly prayer meeting in June.

In Christ,
John Park

Note: Rev. John Park lives in London, Ontario. In late 2017, he left Oakridge Presbyterian Church, where he was associate minister. He is being called to form a new ministry in the east side of the city.