Nashville, TN—On Sunday, September 29th, the 2013 Gracias Christmas Cantata Tour made its way to the National Baptist Convention’s 2500-seat hall in Nashville, TN. People began congregating in the Convention’s lobby an hour before the house opened and by the start of the performance, 2000 people were in their seats.
Right off a plane from Korea, Pastor Ock Soo Park made it just in time to deliver the Cantata message. “At this moment, countless sinners around the world are awaiting judgment. And there will come a time you all will stand before the judgment of God, too.” Pastor Park cited Romans 3:24, ‘Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus’ and declared, “God’s eyes are on this world and His words rule over all things.” This drew applause and a standing ovation from the entire audience.
Just 10 days prior, no one was sure that a Cantata performance was even going to happen in Nashville due to an unexpected venue cancellation. However, Pastor Ho Jun Choi of Good News Atlanta Church testified that in the book of Acts, seeming hardship ended in the powerful works of God.
“We had originally rented an American church called Cornerstone Church. But things got tedious once they expressed their doubts about our Cantata set-up on Sunday morning since they hold service on Saturday night. We had no choice but to cancel. It was 10 days prior to the performance and everywhere we looked, churches had their own Sunday services scheduled. Nothing was available.
Our missionary students and I reached our breaking points. We knew God had to be the one to help us from this point on. If, in fact, we pull this Cantata off, all the glory goes to Him. It was that moment that I remembered the testimony of Pastor Ock Soo Park about the construction of Daeduk Retreat Center. The same God who provided an abundance of water for that facility, why wouldn’t He give us the venue, funding, and manpower we need? This heart allowed me to continue on. I was at peace.
The next day, we were on our way back home after being rejected by another hall. There was a traffic jam on the highway and we were at a crawl. I then saw a huge facility off the side of the road. We did some research and found out it was a Baptist Church Convention, like a headquarters. There were no services held there on Sunday, plus, it was double the capacity of last year’s venue. It felt like a coincidence, but I knew it was God providing this place and sure enough, we were able to secure it for Christmas Cantata.
When we told the Spanish pastors that we had secured the venue, all of them agreed, saying, “This is great. The fact that we could do this means it was God. We want to help you promote and we want to bring our congregations to the Cantata.” They were so joyful. Since we were in hardship, they too wanted to share that hardship, and when we were joyful, they were joyful with us. They wanted to do everything they could to help.
We recruited Cantata staff members from neighboring Spanish churches, and we enjoyed the active support of the senior pastor of a Full Gospel church who was connected to us through last year’s IYF World Camp in New York. He helped us promote and lent us his church facility for almost a month. One store gave us $1000 in donations, and a radio station even allotted 30 minutes of airtime to us so we could preach the Gospel and announce the Christmas Cantata. These are just some of the ways God gave us exactly what we needed.
I couldn’t even have imagined we’d secure a venue with 10 days left. I could feel that God was leading us when we had truly run out of options. The Cantata was awesome, but I was truly thankful that through the hardships, I could experience firsthand that God is alive.”
After the Christmas Cantata performance, a beautiful reception was held for 30 fellow pastors who had attended. The success of this Christmas Cantata was not what remained in our hearts. It was the fact that the seeds of the Gospel were planted in the hearts of the people of Nashville.
And with that, we sadly depart this great city and make our way to the next stop of the Gracias Christmas Cantata Tour: Charlotte, NC.