By: Ya Min Park
Ya Min Park is a recent SEBTS graduate who has earned both an M.Div, and a Th.M in Old Testament. He is planning to move to New York City soon to plant a church. Read below to learn how he is going to use his training from Southeastern while serving in NYC, as well as the story of how he came to study at SEBTS.
My church planting in NYC will start this year. I have three target groups: International Students, second Generation Asian Students, and Jewish Students in Columbia University and NYU. I know that third group is much different from the first two. (If you know about the first two groups, you would say that they are totally different too.) Anyways, the first two groups would make sense to you, if you knew that I’m an International Student from South Korea. However you might ask, “Why is my interest in reaching Jewish Students?”
Jewish Missions has been a keyword for my life from my freshman year of college. I was praying hard that God would give me a mission that I could live and die for. Jewish Missions was given to me as the answer to my prayer. My twenties was wholly focused on Jewish Missions. Since we don’t have a Jewish Community in Korea, I had to make several overseas trips to reach out to people from a Jewish descent. I have been to Israel two times, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Russia.
After the last mission trip to Russia, I decided two important things. My first decision was to study Theology before jumping into the full time ministry, because I saw various complicated theological confusions. While I was joining the missions, I met many missionaries, ministers, and leaders of Messianic Jews. Each of them has their own idea and theology on who are Jews; what the Jewish Mission is; and what we need to do for Jewish people and God’s kingdom. Thus, depending on whom I work with, the ministry swings from one extreme to the other. It gave me doubts about ministry work that I have done and left me with questions about the God’s mission and ministry to people from a Jewish background.
The second decision I made was to come to the US to reach out to the Jewish people in the US. When I went on my last mission trip to Novosibirsk, Russia, I had just graduated from college. During the whole time I stayed in Russia, I was praying that God would show me the next step. By the End of the mission trip, I found that my heart was pretty much ready to do anything God would give me. When I got back to Korea, the one who picked me up at the airport suggested that I go to the US, since the largest Jewish population outside of Israel is in the US. And I accepted this advice with my heart full of God’s calling.
I applied to three seminaries in the US. I picked to come to the one that gave me an admission first which was SEBTS. From the beginning of my seminary life, my concern was to equip myself to share the gospel with the Jewish people. Thus, my main focus was on Old Testament Studies since I wanted to talk to Jewish people about the Messiah in the Hebrew Bible. Then I realized that is what the authors of the New Testament tried to do. Throughout the book of the New Testament, they wanted to prove that Jesus is the Messiah according to the Hebrew Bible. So my study is expanded to the whole Bible and Biblical Theology.
As I finished my M.Div., I was not sure that I had built my own theology for Jewish Mission. I learned various Theological understandings on the issues but it was still difficult for me to choose my theology. So I started working the Th.M. with a focus in the Old Testament. I wanted to make sure whether there are unfulfilled prophecies concerning Israel or all has been or will be fulfilled in the church. The question led me to write my Th.M. paper, “Examination and Evaluation of Progressive Dispensational Understanding of the Day of the LORD in Zechariah 12-14.” After all the years of study at Southeastern, I do not claim that I have a perfect answer for my questions, but I am pretty confident to say that now I know what I need to study and how I study it.
I love the “Go” campaign of SEBTS. And I believe that it is time for me to “Go”. I am going to reach out to three target student groups on campuses in Manhattan, NYC. I am so thankful for the season of study and the faithful teachers at Southeastern. Finally I am going forward boldly for the calling from my heavenly Father.