|Joseph Park 전도사님|
My name is Joseph Park and I am the current Youth Ministry Pastor at New Creation Presbyterian Church. I met Christ at the age of 13 and was able to recommit my life to Him at the age of 20 where I studied theology at Nyack College. NCPC youth group currently meets every Friday’s for a time of fellowship, where we dive deeper into the word of God. Our goal is to train ourselves with prayer and be prepared with the word of God. We are preparing ourselves and reaching out not only to Korean Americans, but to everybody in our community.
|Rev. David Kong (공명철 목사)|
|The Pursuit of Helping Young Christians to Find Their Identity
My ministry vision is to help young immigrant children to not only become good, healthy US citizens/residents, but also to empower them to perpetuate the good in their cultural, ethnic, and religious heritages. A church has a lifespan of its own, and this is even more so for immigrant churches that serve a limited number of ethnic populations in certain metropolitan areas. Because of the natural process of growth and decay, immigrant churches will eventually disappear into history like the first generation Israelites who had been brought out of Egypt and disappeared in the wilderness. Then, immigrant churches must be very deliberate about their future – they must ground their children in the faith of Christ Jesus so that when the current immigrant generation is gone, their children can continue to worship God without being led astray by enticing threats that they would encounter alone in their life journey.
God has aroused in me a passion for educating children for faith throughout my life. I was born and raised in a Christian minister’s home. When I was attending public schools in Korea, I had difficulty integrating the values that I learned from Christian home and public schools. For example, I was taught from my parents that the top priority of life was to live a God-honoring life, serving and loving other people as Jesus would have done while the highly competitive Korean society would pay attention only to those who were on the top of the social, academic, and business ladders. Unfortunately, the more I experienced the world, the more I realized that the God-talk in my Christian environment did not have a place in the public realm. Regardless, my only concern was to be accepted and recognized by other people everywhere I went. Then, I realized that I was resorting to embracing multiple identities at once, which resulted in “a patchwork self,” I was willing to take on or throw away a long-held belief, depending on whom I met or where I went. Not surprisingly, this problem that I experienced seemed to be shared by many of my peers, and my concern for those who head out into the world without a concrete sense of who they are and the proper tools to deal with uncensored messages of the world has been ever growing since I was quite young.
I was given an opportunity to examine my own identity after coming to the U.S. I had to decide between what others would expect from me and what I hoped to gain in this new place. Ironically, I found the tension to be rather liberating because it gave me an opportunity to exercise my will with regard to the kind of life I would want to pursue. I then began to realize that an amazing gift God gave to humans is "free will," second only to the gift of salvation. When I began to choose God over other things in the world with my own will, I was finally becoming a true follower of Christ. This transformative experience gave me vivid self-awareness as well as insight into the plight of other immigrant children. When immigrant children are equipped to think and make decisions for themselves and willingly choose God and follow Him in the midst of confusion and insecurity in this world, they become more empowered to overcome possible threats to their faith without being easily led astray. Therefore, they need Christian identity. It profoundly affects how they conceptualize everything about Christian practice and how they do theological reflection on Christian practice in the realms of culture, politics, and society.
While majoring Ministry in Church and Society at Boston University, I realized the importance of educating immigrant parents and leaders in order to impact their children. Research has shown that educated parents and leaders have a better chance of raising more educated, successful children. Moreover, through their active participation in their children’s learning, changes will be made in their children’s lives. Then, it is inevitable that educators work with immigrant parents and leaders to raise immigrant children as good contributors to the wider society and to empower them to live out their ideals in life. Thus, I hope to impact the lives of immigrant children in collaboration with immigrant families and ethnic churches through efforts to find ways to develop our children’s ability to think and choose for themselves in communal settings as well as through efforts to change policies and practices.
I have been given many opportunities to practice my knowledge in a variety of ways through my engagement with faith-based immigrant organizations both in New York and in Massachusetts. One thing has become clear; I found myself growing in my desire to help young Christians through better educational practices and policies in the immigrant. I am assured that when we continue to train and equip younger generations to become competent and confident followers of Christ capable of thinking and making choices for themselves, we can perpetuate the kind of community that Jesus Christ hoped to embody in this world.