Joseph Park spends his days in the ICU at Sydney’s St Vincent’s Hospital, providing a listening ear, a warm smile and the offer of prayer to patients and their carers.
Joseph - St Vincent's Hospital Chaplain
"Hospital is where the drama of life coalesce and I am in the thick of it all."
Tell us a bit about your background, where you grew up, what you did prior to working at Jericho Road:
Some time ago I was asked which suburb I had come from. I said, well, since I migrated to Oz about 35 years ago, I moved 24 times, lived in 20 different suburbs, 12 LGAs in two states. The longest I have ever lived continuously in one place is 6 years and counting at my current place in Sydney’s Inner West where we might be moving on soon. I went to three different high schools, five different universities, worked in six full time jobs since I turned 21, served in three churches in pastoral leadership.
Change is the story of my life. However, I am grateful for being blessed with a wife and one and only child with whom we love and serve one Lord, one God, Christ Jesus. They are the constant forces that keeps me grounded as I journey through many changes in this life as a pilgrim.
Where do you work?
For this season, I am placed in St. Vincent’s Hospital Darlinghurst as the Jericho Road Chaplain, caring for patients and their carers in intensive care unit, as well as our Presbyterian patients wherever they may find themselves in the hospital.
What led you to become a Chaplain?
While I was in my previous season as a home missionary in Sydney’s south west, I was offered an opportunity to apply for the chaplaincy position. I had no previous working or personal experience with chaplaincy or healthcare whatsoever. I had to take my time to prayerfully consider the Lord’s will. Eventually, I sensed the Lord’s leading towards a new season of serving him in chaplaincy.
What do you enjoy most about the work?
I love the fact that there’s always someone to talk to in the hospital; nurses, doctors, social work, other chaplains, young and old, people from all faith, no faith and in betweens, as well as people from diverse cultures. And they all come with stories – stories of love, faith, hope, suffering, grief, loss, and more. Hospital is where the drama of life coalesce and I am in the thick of it all.
What is the most satisfying aspect?
I am surprised by the providence of God (see notes below about what providence is*)
I am taken aback by how God leads my footsteps towards someone in need of caring a presence, a warm smile, even a prayer or two, to assure him that God has not abandoned him and he is never alone. When this happens it usually happens just at the right time, never too late or too early for the person. When I find myself in the Father’s hand as he brings about his loving purposes for the other, I am so grateful.
What are the most challenging aspects of your work?
To remain fresh, open, and courageous each day as I take a step into another’s private but publicly displayed space of trauma, and suffering, despite the risk of rejection and humiliation.
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not at work?
Everything – because I am not at work. Can I say that?
Well, the standard answer would be I enjoy walking, cycling, eating out and anything to do with nature with my family where I could breathe deeply, slowly, and mindfully and anything that makes me laugh out loud until my belly hurts.
*(See Question 27 of the Heidelberg Catechism (1563).
Question: What do you understand by the providence of God?
Answer: The Almighty, everywhere present power of God, whereby, as it were, by his hand, he still upholds heaven and earth with all creatures and so governs them that herbs and grass, rain and drought, fruitful and barren years, meat and drink, health and sickness, riches and poverty, indeed, all things come not by chance, but by his fatherly hand.
John Piper says, God’s providence is wise and purposeful sovereignty. In other words, it is God’s seeing to everything. Absolutely everything that needs to be done to bring about his purposes, God sees to it that it happens. Isaiah 46:10
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