Jeongju Grace Oh-Howard
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our LORD. (Romans 6:22-23)
I was born in a big family in Korea in the 1960s. At that time, Korea was experiencing a transition from poverty to a developed country. My grandmother lived in hunger and had a painful life under the Japanese occupation and later during the Korean war. She lost three children. She was sick in her 40s. She accepted Jesus as her Savior and was healed. She became the first believer in Christ in my family. Because of her faith and dedication to God, I attended church worship service and Sunday school.
I became a new person. Jesus became my Savior and my Lord. After I met Jesus, my life started to change in many ways.
When I entered college, I was interested in worldly activities rather than God. I struggled in college because of the meaningless of life. My soul was very sick. I had no self-confidence. I had no hope in the future.
In 1990, I was invited to Namjung Presbyterian Church. I attended worship services on Sunday mornings and evenings and Wednesday evenings. Three months later, the Holy Spirit came upon me at a Wednesday worship service. I felt freedom from an evil spirit. I repented my sins. I knew that I received rebirth by the Spirit. I became a new person. Jesus became my Savior and my Lord. After I met Jesus, my life started to change in many ways. I felt freedom from all burdens, guilt, and shame. I had the confidence of eternal life in Christ. I started to live in hope and strength, even though I experienced difficult problems. I experienced the Holy Spirit in daily lives. Worshiping Jesus at church became the center of my life. I wanted to share the Good News with others. I wanted to become a pastor. So, I earned a Master of Divinity in Korea.
With God’s Help I started an international student ministry, and I shared the Good News on the street and at the farmer’s market.
In the year 2000, I left Korea and came to America to start a new life. I struggled to learn English and adjust to America culture. God took care of me. God sent the Holy Spirit upon me in worship services. God helped me meet faithful Christians at churches. And God gave me the ability to earn degrees from Fuller Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary. God’s divine blessings continued in my life. God gave me my husband, Jeff. His faithful partnership in ministry and life has blessed me. My life is filled with thankfulness and hope in Christ.
With God’s help I started an international student ministry at Pasadena Presbyterian Church. I served for Faith United Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles and I shared the Good News on the street and farmers market. I started a new worshiping congregation for urban poor at Eagle Rock Presbyterian Church. I started Crossroads International Fellowship, a new church development, in Princess Anne, Maryland and a campus ministry at the University of Maryland. I started All Nations for Christ for students at Salisbury University. And I pastored Delaware City Presbyterian Church. I currently teach the Bible at Washington Theological Seminary and the World Mission College of greater Washington, DC.
Every morning, Jeff and I talk about God, Jesus, the Holy Spirit, and our hope in Christ. We pray for the churches we serve and have served. We lift the names of people who have helped us in our ministries. I feel that I am so loved by many Christian who love Jesus. They helped us to be faithful witnesses and crowned us with his love and compassion. Nowadays, as a pastor, I fulfill my vows to the Lord by caring for others in the church and sharing the Good News with people who have not yet found God.
Merciful God, thank you so much for giving our churches Jesus and faithful witnesses. Help me to learn from Jesus and the saints, praising you and being a fruitful witness. Amen.
More Faith Stories
I’d been drinking all day long and pulled out into the path of an oncoming vehicle with a with a woman and all of her children packed into this car. They T-boned me and at that moment everything went blank.
One Sunday the music director said the handbell choir needed more members. I thought, “No, I wasn’t ready to get involved.” At the end of the service I found myself volunteering for bell choir!
One Sunday afternoon I was sitting drunk in a bar, and I’m looking around. The only ones in the bar were the bartender, some shady looking guy in the corner, my ex-boyfriend’s mom, and me. I heard this voice in my head say, “What am I doing here?”
This past year I found a black dot on my thumbnail that looked like a pencil point. Nothing much to it. Then it became an abrasion at the end of my nail. My doctor referred me to an orthopedic surgeon who found it to be malignant skin cancer.
At that point I said, “I can’t do this myself. It’s in your hands, God.” That part I remember clearly. It turns out that it was really, really was up to Him (and a good surgeon).
So when drugs and alcohol came around, it was easy for me to say “yes,” because I didn’t have anything in me saying “no” anymore. As I got more involved with drugs, I got into more crime. I started committing violent crimes, selling drugs, abusing drugs ended up back up in prison.