A New Season, Same God

Okay, I know, I know – it’s been a long time since I last posted.  But instead of giving my usual litany of tired old excuses (my kids, writer’s block, my house got broken into, etc.), this time, I have a very good reason for not being able to post:

Since I ended my time with Peace Fellowship, Carol and I have been trying to sort out our priorities, both what we felt God wanted for us, as well as what we wanted for our own lives.  Through this, we identified three prayer requests:

First, we hoped that God would place us with a church that really valued reconciliation.  Reconciliation is not just the idea that individuals can be reconciled to God, as amazing as that one facet is.  Reconciliation also has a corporate dimension, that people and even communities can be reconciled to one another.  Because of this, we wanted to be involved with a ministry that was culturally diverse and truly prized reconciliation work, while not compromising on the message of the gospel, which is Christ crucified and resurrected.  This might seem like an easy enough task, but you would be surprised.  Many churches pursue one aspect of reconciliation in lieu of the other, or don’t even believe it is a priority at all.

Our second prayer request was more personal: that we wanted to be closer to our family.  There is a practical aspect to this, that with our fifth child on the way, it would be immensely helpful to have another set of hands nearby to help with the kids.  But it went deeper than this.  We wanted our children to know the rest of our family well, not simply as people that they see once or twice a year, but as people with whom they shared a deep personal connection, as well as a biological one.  So we were hoping that we could find a church that was closer to family, which would limit our search to Chicago, LA, or Seattle.

Our third request was the most pragmatic: that this would all happen soon.  Because the baby is due in the beginning of August, we didn’t have the luxury of time.  We needed everything to come together very promptly so that we would have time to relocate and get situated before the baby’s arrival.  This meant finding a church and selling our house in a period of only one month, before the summer began in earnest – a pretty tall order.

And God have mercy on me, but despite everything that I have seen God do over the past few years of my life, I had my doubts whether God could answer all these requests.  Perhaps one or two, but not all of them, and certainly not in the timeframe required. But this just goes to show how little I truly know about God, because I am so happy and humbled to announce that starting in July, I will be leaving DC to serve as the lead pastor of Rainier Avenue Church (RAC) in Seattle, Washington.  

RAC is located in the Rainier Valley, which has the distinction of being one of the most diverse zip codes of the United States.  And having visited last weekend, I can testify to the truth of that assertion – it is a truly international neighborhood.  RAC also prizes the whole work of reconciliation, both its individual and corporate dimensions.  In fact, their mission statement is “Encouraging everyone in the Rainier Valley and beyond to find wholeness in Jesus Christ”.  And so, prayer request #1: answered.

In addition, Carol’s parents live close to Tacoma, which is not very far away from the church (and also not too close, which is kind of nice too, if you know what I mean).  And so, prayer request #2: answered.

And lastly, the whole timeframe thing – we had one month for everything to come together, and that’s precisely what happened.  The whole process with RAC began a little over a month ago, and finished up just this past week.  We put up our house for sale, and had a contract on it within six days.  This means that we will be moving out of DC at the beginning of June, well before the baby’s arrival in early August.  Prayer request #3: answered.

There are so many thoughts and feelings that are running through my mind and heart right now, it’s hard to express.  I am leaving behind DC, the city where all my children have grown up, and in which I experienced the most formative moments of my entire life.  That is both a little sad and daunting to me, and I’m sure that I will be processing this development a lot over the coming weeks.

But what I find deeply comforting is that in this new season, even though the city and the church might be brand new for me, the God who goes with me is exactly the same.  He is the same God who got us through Carol’s cancer, and protected Jonathan in the womb.  He’s the same God who gave me all my wonderful children, and two of them after doctors told we could have no more.  He’s the same God who carried me and my family through innumerable difficult moments of the past few years: break-in and thefts, personal and career setbacks, and various meteorological phenomenon (Snowmaggedon, Frankenstorm, Polar Vortex, etc). And as long as that God is with me…I’m good.  Or as it says in the opening verse of Psalm 27:

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    so why should I be afraid?
The Lord is my fortress, protecting me from danger,
    so why should I tremble?

As I said, I am sure that I will be writing more reflections and thoughts on this transition over the next few weeks.  But for now, I am excited about this new season of life, but also thankful for all of you. Many of you have prayed and supported me and my family for years, throughout this entire process, and for that I am deeply grateful for you all.

Now, if any of you would like to help me pack, I’d be even MORE grateful still.

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50 thoughts on “A New Season, Same God

  1. Love the way you guys live missionally, trying to hear the voice of God. Praying for you and your family in this time of transition, the new addition to your family, and the pursuit of Christ’s reconciling work in people, churches, and communities. Inspired by you, bro.

    1. thanks so much dan! and if you ever find yourself in the seattle area, look me up – we can grab some of that famous seattle coffee. i think they call it “starbucks”.

  2. aaaaaaah!!! God is so good, so gracious. you’d think that we’d get the hang of waiting for him to just do his thang, instead of waiting with bated breath… at least there’s not a snarky “i told you so” when he does answer prayer!

    looks like we can set up a bicoastal club, the “God did a lot in and for me in dc” club. your family can be the west coast branch; i’ll be the east coast branch.

    Godspeed, peter! took a look at the church’s website. am super-excited for the congregation and the greater seattle area!

    1. thanks sara – i’m really, really glad that there is no snarky response to our lack of faith, just compassion. otherwise i’d have more snark than i would know what to do with!

  3. Peter we couldn’t be more excited to have you coming to RAC! Believe it or not the answer to prayer is just as large on our side. We know beyond a shadow of a doubt that God’s hand is in play. We can’t tell you enough how thrilled we are to have you coming to Seattle!

    On a funnier note, I subscribed to your blog and it sends me an email every time you post. In the email it clips the first few words as a subject header. On this post this truncated bit was (read to the end. It truncated the next word “since”):

    peter posted: “Okay, I know, I know – it’s been a long time since I last posted. But instead of giving my usual litany of tired old excuses (my kids, writer’s block, my house got broken into, etc.), this time, I have a very good reason for not being able to post: Sin”

    What are the odds? Awesome.

    1. thanks for this mark – we’re so excited about coming out the RAC. how awesome is it that when God answers one person’s request, he is in reality answering many! and i’d just like to say for the record that it was not SIN that has prevented me from posting more regularly.

  4. Hi Peter, I want to be among the first to congratulate you on your new ministry at RAC. As lead pastor there for the last 15 years, I have prayed much for the pastoral search process and believe what you outlined in your post is an answer to my prayers (along with a lot of others!). I will continue to pray for your transition as you move across the continent and begin ministry in Seattle. If I can be of help to you in any way please don’t hesitate to contact me — you have my full support. I look forward to meeting you and to hearing the reports of what God does in and through you and RAC in the years ahead. Pastor Paul Olver

    1. Dear Pastor Peter,

      My name is Maria Gray and I am the eldest daughter of Pastors Julie and Marvin Gray whom you no doubt met when you were here. I have been in college the past 2 years in Michigan but RAC has always been and always will be my second home. I must echo the thoughts of everything RAC congregants have said so far: PRAISE GOD! Even though my family is currently transitioning out of leadership at RAC and moving to the midwest, we are so thankful and will be praying for you and the continued ministry and reconciliation at RAC and the Rainier Valley. Welcome! Blessings, Maria Gray

      1. Hi Maria, thank you for this wonderful note! No matter where you go, please know what you will always have a home at RAC, guaranteed. Maybe we can even put a plaque up on one of the pews to reserve it for you guys whenever you come to visit!

  5. Hi peter. Well miss seeing you guys a few times each year. Congrats on number 5 and congrats on the new pastorship!

  6. Peter – I echo what Mark Mason has said that you and your family are a HUGE answer to prayer for our church and neighborhood and our conference of the Pacific Northwest. Yeah God!!!

  7. It’s amazing how God takes the time to care for each and every one of us. We have some many examples of His work but we still kinda wonder, “did He hear this one”. It’s great news Jackie and I send our blessing to you, Carol and the family…God bless and keep us posted

  8. Very excited to get the news about your family coming to RAC. Looking forward to meeting you!

  9. wow! how incredible. I always love hearing how God moves and overwhelmingly answers prayers… often times blowing our expectations out of the water. 🙂

  10. I have been following your blog and just this past week you came to my mind…was concerned that there had been no news. So happy to hear from you and that God has blessed you so powerfully!!! I will continue to lift you, your precious family, and His ministry that He has called you to before the Lord. The reflection of His light shines brightly from you!! Thank you for your obedience, example, and honesty. Blessings.

    1. thanks paula! i love my readers because i feel like they know my story, and so are interested not just in what i write, but in what is going on in my life. and you are a perfect example!

  11. Congratulations to you and the family! Also thrilled to see RAC get a humble and effective pastor. Bless you!

  12. Hi pastor Peter! I know we haven’t met yet as I’ve been overseas but I am so excited you and your family will be a part of our RAC community! My husband and I are looking forward to meeting you and we praise God for how He worked this all together! Praying the move and transition from the east coast to the west is a smooth one (I made that move 5 years ago so I can’t imagine how that be might be with a whole family!). Btw Peter Ahn is a good friend and mentor of mine when I was back east and used to serve at Metro.

    Neah Lee

    1. hi neah! i was super bummed when i heard you guys were out of town. when do you get back to the states?

      1. Hey! I’m bummed I wasn’t there! I’ll get back May 26. When will you guys be moving to Seattle and where will you guys be living? Have you found a place?

      2. we’ll be there in early june, and will be staying at my in-law’s place near tacoma. but hopefully it won’t be long until we find a place in the rainier valley and move in!! exciting!

  13. Welcome to RAC, Pastor Peter! We are excited to have you as our pastor and I can’t wait to meet you. We were not able to talk to you because my wife and I just had a baby, you may have seen her during the announcements this last Sunday. I work with the youth at RAC and it is a special place I am sure you will find that out. There is great potential here and now you get to lead us. So cool, anyway congratulations! See you soon and we will pray your transition goes well.

    1. chris, i really look forward to meeting you! please be sure to introduce yourself when you see me in a few weeks…

  14. Hi Pastor Peter,

    Although we’ll miss visiting you guys in DC, it’s a blessing to hear how actively tangible God’s been working in your lives. Thank you for your writings, which have been important reminders to me about an active faith that requires our continual and thoughtful surrendering – a faith that is, in fact, NOT blind. I look forward to hearing how God will continue to bless you and your family in your adventures of faith.

    I’m sure your family is ecstatic, and I hope we will have as many opportunities to come and visit you all in the Pacific Northwest. I hope you won’t be too offended if I actively disparage the local football team though. Just kidding… I’m going to get threatening emails now, aren’t I? 😉

    1. No threatening emails, but beware of disparaging God’s team. I can’t remember the reference, but the verse was something along the lines of “Enter through the narrow gate, for wide is the gate and broad is the path that leads to destruction. But narrow is the gate and small is the road that leads to Super Bowl victory, and only the Seahawks enter.”

    2. thanks victor! being that i’m originally from chicago, i don’t mind at all if you disparage that particular football team. i think any team besides the bears is just terrible anyway.

  15. It is so amazing the way God brought all this together, Peter! We are so excited that you are coming to Rainier Avenue Church and to the Pacific Northwest Conference.

  16. To God Be The Glory Pastor Chin. Thank you for that inspiring testimony. I am so grateful He is placing you closer to your earthly family. We serve a dynamic God who prepares and equips in His time frame not ours. By grace He compressed the answers to help you. Your past struggles will help you help others in the future. You are so right on reconciliation. We in the church often view unreconciled relationships like we view that unrepaired cracked window pane, broken door knob, or burned out light bulb in our houses or apartments. (i.e. We walk pass them daily and procrastinate or avoid repairing them.) Non reconciliation inhibits growth and fruit bearing and for a local assembly its like driving a car on the wheel rims without tires. We eventually may get there, but man on man wouldn’t it have been a much nicer journey without all the noise, flying sparks, and gouges in our paths. Just recently I took steps to reconcile with some long unattended relationships some of which God had to reveal to me needed reconciliation. No matter how old you get or how long you’ve been a Christian or how long the window pane has been cracked, God by His grace will place in your heart the awareness, courage, and resolve to attempt reconciliation. For me its not necessarily always in quick all encompassing forgiveness at one time, but rather in steps. Each step taken may eventually lead to full reconciliation. I truly believe a little understood benefit of death is the heartbrokenness and grief of the death of a loved one may help us sometimes shed some of the resistance to reconcile. A recent passing of a long time friend from cancer (who we had no reconciliation problems I am aware of before she died), in the aftermath of her death spurred me to reach out to others still living who in the back of my mind I knew there were unresolved issues. Once I took those steps I began to sense a freedom and closeness to God that I had missed. Getting reconciliation to become a “priority” is something I still need prayer on. The benefits far outweigh the reluctance.

    1. thank you for this william – you’re so right, that reconciliation is like driving a car on rims. “driving” is not supposed to be at all like that. but for some reason, we prefer the flying sparks and road gouges to the work of taking time to stop the car, place it on jacks, and really finding out what the problem is so that we can fix it once and for all. encouraged that God continues to place reconciliation on your heart!

  17. Welcome to the RAC family! So glad you and your family will be joining us in the Valley. Let me know when you’re ready for the neighborhood tour. 🙂

    1. thanks david! marvin actually gave me a very comprehensive tour last week, but i’d be glad to go again!

  18. Well, Peter, Washington’s loss is Washington’s gain. While I’m sad that you’re leaving the DC area, I’m excited for this new beginning for you and your family. And Washington is a beautiful state. The Seattle area has much to offer. And, you’re right – being close to family really does matter. (My eldest son lives in Portland OR and I treasure the times I get to spend with my grandchildren, but they are too few and too far between times). I know that God was using your time here to grow you and polish you — the good times and the bad ones. Now He’s moving you to the next step. How awesome is that?!?! And thank you for sharing the answers to prayers. I have prayed about the next place for you, and love the answer. You and your family will remain in my prayers.

    1. thank you emily – indeed, my time in DC has taught me so much, and refined me in so many ways. the years we spent here were by far the most difficult of my life, and yet, the most important as well – i suppose that is just how life is, and how life works. i appreciate your prayers and encouragements, always!

  19. Peter, Congratulations to you and family! We are very familiar with RAD from our days on staff with IVCF at the UW. Many of our fellow alum and our former students have made RAD their missional community. Bum and I almost accepted a calling to a church in the Rainier Valley at the same time we were discerning church planting. The call was to stay in St. Louis. This past month we officially moved out of church plant phase and became an official ECC church. We know God continues to call us to stay here. However, we are often homesick and miss our family and friends in Seattle. Praying for your family as you transition. So beautiful to watch your faithfulness and to see God’s provision for your family. Excited to see your adventure unfold.
    Blessings, Angela (and Bum too.)

    1. thanks angela! wow, it seems like forever since that assessment center, and so so much has happened since then. next time you guys stop by to see family, please come by RAC and say hello – we’d love to see you, bum, and the kids!

    1. thanks man – the movement you started in NYC is an inspiration to me and many others as well!

  20. Greeting Pastor Peter,
    My name is Carlotta Walker my husband and I have 7 children. I am very excited to meet you and your family. I am very interested in reconciliation also. I have gone through so much in my life, as an African American suffering from racism on both sides since I was a child. As far as relationships, my husband and I had divorced for over 5 years and reconciled in 2012, This suffering has caused me to support reconciliation and diversity even more as an adult Christian. I love diversity, one of the reason why I love Rainier Ave. I have learned so much about reconciliation & forgiveness and hungry to learn more and be supportive of it. One of my favorite times is when we sing our worship songs in many cultures, and when we hear the sermon bible verses read in different cultures. I don’t understand what they are saying, but it is always so beautiful and what I like my children to be a part of as they grow. Your family is such a perfect match for Rainier Ave and we all are so excited.

    Last week before I found out about your acceptance to Rainer Ave, I was having one of the lowest weeks of my life, when I heard the good news It really made my week. It is true that after the darkest time of night means sunshine is not too far away.

    Being a mother of 7, I am so excited to meet your family. I have just started teaching the k-2 class room, and look forward to having the kids in my class on 1st and 3rd Sundays. I hate that our family will be on vacation the first week you will be here. But we look forward to meeting you when we return.

    Have a safe trip here, and good luck with packing. Wish we could help.

    Many Blessings.

    Fred & Carlotta Walker

    1. SEVEN!! wow, let me just say – you are strong people. i look forward to meeting you both in a few weeks, and hope that might continue to see God work to heal both our individual lives, as well as the community around us. blessings, walker family!

  21. Hello~ i’ve been following your blog first when i was living overseas in korea and now from philippines. Your post about spiritual glimpses really rang true for me last year when I was going through a hard time, so…thanks! I’m originally from the countryside of WA state so I’m so happy Seattle is getting such a great addition. When I’m home I’ll try to stop by on a Sunday. Blessings to you and your family!!

    1. hi melissa, thanks for the encouragement. for me, this new opportunity is one of those spiritual glimpses into the ways and wisdom of God. who knows when i’ll see it again, but i rejoice every time that i do! and please, next time you are in the area please stop by and say hello!

  22. Welcome to Hillman City, Chin family! We are “friends” of RAC who live in the community and are excited for what God is doing and will continue to do in the Rainier Valley. Your upcoming arrival has been quite the buzz amongst our RAC friends. Rumor has it you have some Covenant connections–maybe we can do a little partnership between Quest (our church with your buddy Eugene Cho) and RAC on the topic of reconciliation.

    -Melinda & Chad Anderson

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