2015 Angeles City – Paul Yoo

The Uncomfortable Growth of a Preacher

Then I said, “Ah, Lord GOD! Behold, I do not know how to speak; for I am only a youth.” But the LORD said to me, “Do not say, ‘I am only a youth’; for to all to whom I send you, you shall go, and whatever I command you, you shall speak” (Jeremiah 1:6-7).

It seems like God is wanting to stretch me in this season of my life. Not that my previous training of four years of seminary while serving as a youth pastor was easy. But ever since I have come to New Philly, it’s been a non-stop process of me having to step out into new territory. The past year of planting a church in Sydney has stretched me in so many ways- not only in ministry, but in all areas of my life. New Philly’s missions trips have been no different. Last year’s trip to India was my first time serving as a New Philly missions team leader. Through this experience, God established fundamental qualities in my leadership that were necessary to bring my authority to the next level, especially in serving as the campus pastor of our fledgling Sydney church plant. This year’s trip to the Philippines was my first time serving as the team preacher. My experience preaching in the field likewise launched me to greater levels of truth. God was working in me in order to position me to hit new levels as a minister.

Although I am a campus pastor in Sydney, I am still relatively young. I still struggle with my identity as a minister. Preachers often talk about the journey of “finding your voice” in one’s preaching ministry. Well, my journey at New Philly has been that and more. I’ve been trying to “find my voice” and my identity not only as a preacher, but as a minister. New Philly is a different context from other Word-only ministries that I’ve been a part of. New Philly’s ministry is not only about the Word of God being preached, but also about moving in the Holy Spirit through all kinds of altar ministry. If you know me at all, you know that I like to read up as much as I can on any new areas that I’m learning about. Naturally, I’ve been trying to read all that I can about all kinds of new areas – prophetic ministry, healing, fire, impartation, spiritual gifts. But most of one’s learning in this area has to come through experience. This makes me uncomfortable, but I’m learning to enjoy that process.

In the Philippines, the first pastor we partnered with was Pastor Ibay. I knew that he was a man full of the Spirit and moving in the anointing of the Lord. As I got to know him, I really admired him for his heart and his powerful ministry. Who was I to preach at his church? I looked at the ministry schedule he drew up for us, and one of the first services was to be an “Evangelistic and Healing Service.” That was definitely new territory for me. Though I’ve prayed for and seen God heal people before, I had never led a healing service. Would I be able to do this? Would I have the faith to go for it?

Our team did outreach to the neighborhood during the day and invited many of the village people to come to that evening’s special service. As I prepared for that evening’s message, I felt God guiding me to the passage in Mark 1-2. First, Jesus heals a leper out of His great compassion. Then He heals a paralytic, but not before He forgives him his sins. God’s compassion to heal and to forgive. Evangelism and healing.

When the time for the service came, people poured in and the sanctuary was packed. I preached my heart out, and then the time came for altar ministry. Would God show up if I called people up for healing? I felt the weight of the ministry heavy on my shoulders, and I saw all these people who needed the touch of God. I just went for it.

Scores of people prayed to receive Christ into their lives. A bunch of people came up for healing and several of them testified to being healed. God is good. I went out in faith and God used me to minister to those people.

I had to preach several more times during the trip and it was constantly a burden, though always a good burden. What word do I preach? Lord, give me a word! How should I lead the altar ministry? Lord, please help me! Every time it was a battle. Would God show up if I led a certain altar call? I remember my last message of the trip was at a church in Angeles City. I had been struggling so much over this message. Satan was assaulting me and discouraging me terribly over the days leading up to the service. I was wrestling with myself and tormented with self-doubt.

But thanks be to God, because people were praying for me. One of my prayer supporters shared with me a vision they received while praying for me. Satan was holding a mirror in front of me, and all I could see was myself and my lack. But as this person warred and contended for me in prayer, the mirror shattered into broken pieces. I turned the mirror away from myself and toward the congregation. And the mirror was reflecting the light of Christ on them. When this person shared this vision with me, my heart took courage.

That afternoon, our team led seminars and ministered in groups to the young people. We realized that while many of them were coming out to the church, they all had a lot of issues. There was a lot of messy stuff going on at the church, and these kids needed a lot of healing and deliverance.
When the afternoon sessions finished, I thought I had a little over an hour before the evening service. Unfortunately, there was some miscommunication and it turned out that I only had a few minutes before the service started. Lord, please! Help me! Self-doubt was starting to creep back. Should I preach on the fire? Should I go for it? Lord, I don’t know if I can do this. Lord, I don’t know if I have the anointing.

I decided in my heart to go for it. If I didn’t, I would regret not having the faith or courage. It made me dependent on God. I remembered that it wasn’t about me, but about what God wanted to do in His people. I still felt uncomfortable and like I didn’t really know what I was doing. But I just looked to God and preached my heart out. It wasn’t the most dramatic night of ministry in NP history. But I knew that God was doing something important. He was working that night in people’s hearts, and I fully believed it.

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