The Multiracial Student Scholarship Fund is one of the strategies employed by the Office of Race Relations (ORR) to develop multiracial congregational leadership in the CRCNA. Recipients attend one of the higher learning institutions affiliated with the denomination -- Calvin University, Dordt University, The King’s University College, Redeemer University College, Kuyper College, Trinity Christian College, and Calvin Theological Seminary. They have also expressed a strong desire to train for and to engage in the ministry of racial reconciliation in church and/or in community.
Through bountiful gifts given last year, the ORR was able to award scholarships to ten students for the 2021/22 school year. It’s our privilege to introduce you to Harim Park, one of these ten recipients. Read his brief biography below and some of his thoughts on the importance of social justice.
My name is Harim Park, and I am from South Korea. Currently I am studying in the Master of Theology program, majoring in Systematic Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary (CTS).
My mother named me Harim, which means “given to God,” just like Samuel in the Bible. It is not a common name, so I often get asked what it means. As I grew up, I realized the weight of the word my name carries and wondered about my true identity, which directed me to the journey of faith.
I had an excellent example to follow – my parents. They were involved in a university ministry and served college students. It influenced me a lot, and I used to think as a child that I would live my life dedicated to God with the same faith and passion as my parents. I had a personal encounter with God in grade 11. God called me and started working in me. The calling seemed to be more specific when I started studying theology at Kosin University (a private Christian university in Busan, South Korea). I felt like I was a good pastor candidate. But one day, this idea got shattered completely.
That day I was counting the number of attendants for the Sunday morning service as usual. It occurred to me all of a sudden that God was not pleased with that. I was not working for God but man. I was focusing on the meaningless number and appearance. I felt disgusted with myself. Internal calling was not good enough – maybe I confused myself. Then I decided to drop out.
But so many people insisted and encouraged me to continue. They helped me start again. One of the professors told me that he could see my talent and passion for ministry. Colleagues told me that they could feel God’s calling in me when studying and working with me. With their strong support, I could find my true vocation again.
Who is a faithful pastor before God? I am sure everyone has at least once pondered the same matter. My idea of a faithful pastor builds the church of Christ through the true proclamation of the Word and pure administration of the Sacraments like the Reformers. This idea drew me to the Christian Doctrine.
I was concerned that my biblical approaches could be fragmental, so I paid attention to the Christian Doctrine in the light of the coherence of the Bible. I believe that the Christian Doctrine is best expressed in reformed confessions. This belief guided me to teach the Westminster Shorter Catechism to people at church because I was convinced that teaching Catechism is very effective in forming faith. All these experiences planted a massive interest in me about Systematic Theology.
My vocational goal is to help Korean churches by carefully learning Systematic and Historical Theology at Calvin Theological Seminary. In Korea, most of the students in theological seminary know Reformed Theology, but there is a separation between their knowledge and practice. Most of them reject Reformed Theology after graduation. My aim is not to criticize them, but to build up the Church with Reformed Theology, even in the practical field.
In that sense, I am especially interested in Systematic and Historical Theology. I took the Heidelberg Catechism last semester, and it is fascinating in its harmonizing between life and doctrine and embracing denominations by minimizing differences and maximizing similarities.
This characteristic also helps to racial justice and diversity. No church can claim that they have the only truth. Instead, Herman Bavinck spells out the idea of catholicity as it exists in diversities of confessions. Therefore, the church needs to respect diversities, whereas it strives to share similarities.
If you feel led to support this valuable scholarship fund and students like Harim, please give online at this link. Your gift today will bless future students as they train for and prepare to engage in the ministry of racial reconciliation in church and in society.
For those who wish to be considered for a scholarship from the Office of Race Relations, information and an application are found at this link.