2014 Cambodia – Jinhee Park

Stop Waiting

“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.” -Isaiah 61:1-3

For someone who seems to be impatient most of the time- waiting for food, waiting in line, waiting for an appointment- ironically, I am a firm believer of big and good things being worth the wait. February 9, 2014 marked the day that this waiting ceased. The day that I stopped waiting on God. Because I knew that God had exceeded my expectations.

Taking you back, leading up to the missions trip to Cambodia there were many things going through my mind: the Gospel excitement, as well as numerous fears, simultaneously raged from different sides. Fears I hadn’t felt in ages screamed in my face. Funny, how specific insecurities hit you like a freight train when you move in a certain direction. Most of my life I thought I was called to work at a center for youths from underdeveloped cities. Youths who had struggles with family, peers, school, learning English, living and learning towards a healthy and independent lifestyle. I wanted to train up such youths to be Jesus-loving warriors while incorporating extracurricular activities like sports, bboying, music, the arts, and cooking. I wanted to make life immeasurably exciting for them. So when the opportunity arose to partake in New Philly’s first hip hop dance outreach to Cambodia, to work with youths in orphanages and in the slum areas, I knew I had to go. But because I knew I was so specifically called to go, satan tried his best to prevent me. Throughout the training I struggled with dark moments of perfectionism, and I would find myself saying over myself, “I’m not a professional dancer. I’m slowing everyone down. Why can’t I get this move right?” The way I danced, the way I talked, the fear of failure, even the fear of judgment via my younger teammates, all directed me to fight to keep my identity in Christ. It’s been a journey from day one of training. And as I held on in faith, it became more and more evident that I was called to go. Various confirmations started to flood in, like my boss of seven years very supernaturally approving my vacation days, to financial support coming in from friends overseas. In the midst of preparations, when asked about my expectations, I decided to keep life simple by asking God for just two of things: 1) God, show me Your heart for Your people and 2) God, I want to see something I’ve never seen before. But indeed I wasn’t ready for my heart’s eyes to be unveiled in the ways that they were.

Before Cambodia, I chose to believe that my salvation was mostly for me. The fact that God wanted for all peoples to be reached with the Gospel seemed like someone else’s job. Nations like China, North Korea, Iraq, Iran never really seemed like my cup of tea. I thought, “Surely, someone else will reach them. I’m praying for them. People can go, and I’ll support via prayers and finances.” Even with the rich heritage of my grandpa dedicating his life to the reunification of the two Koreas, even with both of my parents’ original hometown being Pyongyang prior to the Korean War, even after seeing countless changed lives of North Korean defectors and hearing their miraculous stories, and even despite having a cousin who recently escaped from North Korea- even despite all these things, I still believed that the Great Commission was for someone else to fulfill. But on February 9, I stopped waiting for God to send someone else.

I woke up to the truth that I was living my dream, which was a combination of Isaiah 61 and Ezekiel 37- where God raised up an army of dried bones in a valley with the breath of His words. I was reminded of the dream job description I’ve shared a bit earlier. The greater picture came to play in ways I had unexpected. And though I’d been sent to Cambodia, God couldn’t have done a better job in preparing me for what was to take place.

A bit of a background for our ministry times in Cambodia: I got to see my team leader share the Gospel multiple times so simply. I saw oceans of people of various ages, sitting-standing-listening attentively and simply accept Jesus as their Savior and Lord. I witnessed a deaf girl being healed, a lame woman being healed and testify right before our eyes. I saw paralysis being healed, sicknesses leaving bodies, and pain fleeing in the name of Jesus. I saw the gift of tongues being released, the gift of sleep and rest for generations of people having lived with demonic nightmares, and I saw myself ushering in the presence of God through my role as worship leader as my teammates ministered powerfully. But my hunger for something more lingered day and night. In the beginning of our trip to Phnom Penh, we were told by the native pastors that there were numerous Chinese descendants living in Cambodia. For me, any time the word “China” is mentioned, in whatever context, I cannot help but think about this nation’s ties with North Korea. I hadn’t given much attention to this fact, until the team and I went to two North Korean restaurants towards the end of our trip.

At one of the North Korean restaurants, on a Sunday evening (February 9th to be exact), my team leader notified the team, after our full meal and getting to know the North Korean staff, that we’d be dancing a piece that 5 out of our 11 dancers were involved in. It’s what we called the GKYM dance, a dance where we’d performed at Korea’s very first Global Kingdom Young Adults Missions conference in late 2013. This was a dance piece that had required 35 hours or more of late night practices and prayer covering. We had presented this piece to the English ministries of Seoul, to release a fresh inspiration to a new generation of worshippers to impact the world. Unfortunately, this was also that one dance piece I’d felt most insecure about.

Now earlier this day, our sixth day of ministry, we’d danced this piece for the first time at a church in Sen Sok, where life and honor flowed during our time with the multi-generational congregation. Though this was a safe place to dance, and even though I had danced this piece numerous times prior to that day, I managed to forget the moves literally throughout the entire song. I knew somehow that it was probably our last time dancing that piece as well. Following the performance, my heart was quite restless. It just kept pleading with God for one last opportunity to dance that piece again. I didn’t mention this to my leader or to my teammates, but I was willing to give my life to dance it one last time. I was reminded of how powerful this dance piece was due to the hours we’d poured into the choreography, practices and especially the prayers. I was waiting.

Finishing up the church ministry time and heading to dinner, I remained restless. I didn’t know how to handle myself. So I just sat at the dinner table kind of dumbfounded at the day’s event, trying to join some of the conversations going on around me. Unlike the first North Korean restaurant we’d been to previously, this one was smaller and with fewer customers. As usual, the staff of young North Korean women were ready to serve us food. As was the case every evening, there was a standard performance of these same young women singing, dancing, chanting and playing musical instruments at a thunderously loud volume. The thought of performing in a government-run North Korean restaurant, dancing a piece I was the most uncomfortable with, and God releasing His grace and truth- this was absolutely beyond my grid. But this is exactly what happened. Our team leader had somehow gotten the okay from the restaurant manager and a bunch of us were set to go on stage. I asked my teammates multiple times for confirmation, “Are we going up? Like now?” And it turned out we were going to do the GKYM dance! I couldn’t believe it. I told God, “Are you serious? Now? You work in the craziest manners! But OK!” Unlike all the other previous times, I felt ready. I grabbed my cap and stepped onto what looked like a million dollar grand stage. My heart was pumping, I was thrilled, as if this piece was my favorite-favorite. Actually, there was no other way BUT for God to show up. After a few awkward moments stretching, praying under my breath, looking at my team members, I turned around to face the audience of mostly North Koreans and a few Cambodians. After the final cue from our team leader, I took my place on stage. As soon as the music pumped up, I started to dance, and suddenly I realized that I was living out my dream: to be a Christian, representing Christ as an ambassador, of being the living representation of Isaiah 61 and Ezekiel 37!

All my life, I had been waiting for God to fulfill my dreams, asking “When will I get to work at my dream job?” I had been waiting for God. But it was at that moment on stage, when I realized how tangible salvation is for the North Koreans- my parents’ people and therefore my people- watching us. It was then that I was reminded of the valley of dry bones waiting for the breath of God to come rushing in through me. It was then that I woke up to the truth that God had been preparing, building me up for a moment like this to unveil the eyes of my heart. He’s answered my prayer by showing me His own very heart: His heart for His people. God has shown me that I can stop waiting on Him and instead start living out my life to the fullest. God’s been tilling the soil of those both living and working in Cambodia. He’s also been tilling the soil of my heart. I felt like there was a prayer bowl in Heaven labeled, “Ask of me even the things unknown to your heart, and the Holy Spirit will help you pray and intercede for it.” Up to this point, my stubbornness allowed me to believe that salvation for a nation like North Korea and even Cambodia would always be hard to attain, and therefore the duty of other people. But at that exact moment on Feb. 9, I felt the stage as a baptism river, the bright spotlight as Heaven’s open door over us, and God saying, “For this reason, for this tilling of the ground and hearts, I’ve sent you. This is my love for them. These are my people. Taste and see the things I’ve been doing.”

I can’t fathom how and what God did and what He will continue to do. His puzzle seems perfectly mysterious, yet beautifully revealing. And the best part is that nothing goes to waste. Every time I testify, I can’t make it to the end without realizing that this trip to Cambodia was a once in a life time opportunity, but God made sure I wouldn’t miss my chance. I’m now contending for even crazier opportunities to come in the near future. In the meantime, please pray for open doors for God’s people to reach the North Koreans in Cambodia, and for continued strength over the Cambodian native ministers release Kingdom revival in this beautiful nation.

Lord speak to my heart. Continue to increase and release Isaiah 61 and Ezekiel 37 in my life and in those around me. I have stopped waiting, and have started to live this life to the fullest. God, do the same, if not greater, for Your people in North Korea, China, Cambodia- for those who were able to sow into and partner with this great Kingdom work. Salvation to Your people, and life to the fullest. Amen!

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