I grew up Southern Baptist in Cincinnati, Ohio. I started to go to Mount Caramel Baptist Church, I was baptized there, had a lot of friends there and the pastor was a big mentor for me. When it came time to choose a college, I looked into a ton of Baptist schools, but I went to Hanover College, in Hanover, Indiana, which is a PCUSA affiliated school. I still believed that I was Baptist, and when it came to choose a seminary to get my Master’s of Divinity, I was set on going to Southern Baptist Seminary in Louisville, KY. But I didn’t feel too comfortable there, and I ended up wandering off campus during a visitation trip and found my way to the bottom of the hill where I ended up on the campus of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. I really liked the feel on campus and I decided to apply to that school and ended up going there. I decided to be ordained as a…. Southern Baptist… yeah…
Anyways, I believed that I was Southern Baptist for a very long time in my life, even though my educational background was God trying to guide me to be a Presbyterian. Sometimes you don’t realize how God is guiding you because you might be too stubborn or even unaware of how the Holy Spirit is making these significant decisions for you! After some time, I went to South Korea and started working in a Presbyterian church, but I was still stubborn enough to think that I was still being a Southern Baptist. Even though now, theologically I am becoming more and more Presbyterian. Heck, I even married a Presbyterian! And her father is a retired Presbyterian pastor! Now… after I got married, we moved back to the USA where I began looking for work in Southern Baptist churches. And now my faith journey, my life narrative is about to hit a change.
I got a job working at the Korean Church of Tulsa, great church, for about 3 months… Here’s the thing… I don’t mind naming places that I’ve been and being open to what I have experienced, but I am not going to name any names. Everything was cool at that church, but then the senior pastor there (no longer there) made my life a living hell. At one point he grabbed me in the hallway and told me to leave this church. I yelled at him in his office, not knowing what was going on, and where all of this came from. The church deacons sided with me, and told me to stay and apologize to the senior pastor, I played the game, but he refused to acknowledge any wrongdoing.
I will spare you all the messed up situations that I had to endure during this time. But simply, that pastor was a very unstable.
I decided with his blessing that leaving the church quickly and quietly would be the best choice. I instantly became lost, not knowing how a church or a pastor can act in such a way. Impossible to find any church because I could not get a recommendation from the current church I was working at. Then I received a very unlikely call. And the one church that gave me a shot was Long Island Korean Presbyterian Church of Port Washington. The general presbyter however asked me a ton of questions which made me wonder about my journey of faith.
I had to question… am I still Southern Baptist? I had to go all the way back and reflect on how God has led me up to that point. Sometimes God is doing everything He can to influence you to go in a certain direction, but because us human beings are so darn stubborn or unaware of what’s going on, we miss all the signals. I realized I have been missing signals, turns, signs since I arrived at Hanover College. And it is absolutely amazing that God never gave up on me. He decided, “Yeah this dude keeps missing where I need him to go, but I will keep giving him opportunities.” And, even when I was pushed out of a Southern Baptist church in Tulsa, God’s hands were involved in everything. And He knew that I would be in good hands, and also God decided to limit all my options at that point and basically give me a Matrix like choice of taking the red pill or blue pill.
In order to work as a pastor in Long Island I had to become a Presbyterian. I took the red pill and had to take a few ordination exams AGAIN! But thank the Lord almighty for leading me and basically thumping me on the head to say, “You are Presbyterian! Can’t you SEE!” I went to a Presbyterian college, Presbyterian seminary, worked in a Presbyterian Church, married a Presbyterian, and even have a father in law that’s a retired Presbyterian pastor. Yeah… I got it now… I see!
So, my faith journey, where did it lead me? Ward Ave. Presbyterian Church. It’s dang good to be where I am! The churchy is perfect for me. I love the fishing holes, my kids love the space to run, and my wife is going to school pursing a Nursing degree. God continues to guide all of us and give us blessings all day!
Hey this is Rev. Brian Choi's random thought throughout my week. Most of this stuff, will probably be about family, church, fishing, music, movies, food, whatever I think of, hopefully it will have some sort of theological reflection (maybe).