Although the green roof of Great Commission Hall may have shared a visual similarity to the green roof on their church in Ethiopia, life at OMSC bore little resemblance to the Parks missionary lifestyle. In Ethiopia, Jong-Kook and Grace were involved in church-planting and teaching at a local Bible school while their children lived away from home at boarding school.
In 1997-1999, a financial crisis impacted many of the South Korean Churches and many Korean missionaries were forced to return home. Seeking affirmation from God that they should continue their mission work in Ethiopia, Jong-Kook and Grace came to OMSC where they could reflect on issues they had struggled with on the mission field. The OMSC seminars helped them to gain new perspectives on dealing with these difficult issues. The seminar on Islam was particularly eye opening, and it was through this experience that they began to shape their ideas of how to share the gospel message of Jesus with Muslims in Ethiopia. But perhaps the seminar that had the greatest emotional impact on the whole family was “Nurturing and Educating Transcultural Kids.” Grace says, “We were encouraged to overcome the fear and uncertainties of our kids’ future, raising them overseas in boarding schools.”
Jong-Kook and Grace say that in retrospect, they believe that God used their time at OMSC to enable them to follow Him in faith. In the 17 years since they completed the OMSC study program, they have continued to serve in Ethiopia and beyond. Jong-Kook has worked with church leaders to plant churches, has trained local pastors and lay leaders, and sent local missionaries out to unreached areas and to the Middle East. Grace received a PhD in Intercultural Studies from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in 2015. She teaches courses related to missions and ministry at Ethiopian Graduate School of Theology. After finishing their education in Ethiopia and Kenya, both children, Tony and Anna, have earned their bachelors and masters degrees in the United States. Tony works as a fund managing accountant in New York City, and Anna is an elementary school teacher in Philadelphia, PA. On July 15, 2017, Anna was married to Ben, a fellow Christian she met through her church’s Bible study group.
Grace says, “We praise God for His faithful care for our family over the years, and we humble ourselves before God who enables us to continue His mission to the end of the earth.”