John’s journey is one from anxiety and alcoholism to salvation and service. He recalls three keys to his deliverance. The first was a godly grandfather who was the only “real Christian” he knew while growing up. Most churchgoers he knew “checked in and checked out” for Sunday services. There was something different and genuine about his grandfather’s faith.
John hated high school and, due to lots of anxieties in life, he began drinking at age 17. While still in school he began dating Tiffany, whom he later married. She and her parents were the second key to his deliverance. They too knew what it was to have a personal and dynamic relationship with Jesus.
During his senior year, John got into a work-study program allowing him to go to school half days and work in the tool and die trade half days. This introduced him to “adult life” with a pretty rough crowd, and he blended in with them, drinking even more.
John bought his first home at the age of 19. A year later, he and Tiffany were married. By then John was a “functioning alcoholic.” He never abused anyone or missed work, but he was addicted to alcohol. It was just the way of life of his family and those with whom he worked. During this time, John and Tiffany did attend a mainline denominational church that her family attended. His observation once again was, “people basically checked in and out, there was no real evidence of a transformed life. No one seemed to know that I was empty, without Christ, and an alcoholic.”
The Parks made the decision to live debt-free and improve their home as they had money. They lived on a single income so that Tiffany could home-school their four boys. The third key to John’s transformation came at this point. They were living on a single income. He was working 60 hours a week and continuing to drink. They were trying to add on to their home and were about done, when Tiffany announced that a fifth boy was on they way. John was at his wits end. At this point, an aunt and uncle in Tiffany’s family paid to have the work finished. In fact, John came home one day and it had all been done! He says, “It was the first time in my life I really saw and experienced undeserved and unconditional love. I was shocked!”
In 2012 John was driving home from work one evening. His second-hand car only had an AM radio, and only picked up a couple of stations. He got tired of listening to a talk show host and turned to the other station. Even though it was a preacher, he listened the rest of the trip home. He became so intrigued that he went in the house and tuned their home radio to the station to hear the rest of the message. Tiffany was in shock, but it opened a door for her to ask him to attend a Bible study that another uncle had just begun for young couples. Without thinking about it, he said, “sure.” This began his real probing into the Word of God. He was confronted with the truth that his life was on the wrong track, that he needed to give his life to Christ and be baptized. Over the course of the next year, John yielded his anxieties and problems to Jesus. The drinking subsided and eventually stopped altogether.
John began to build handicap ramps for people in need with the guys in the Bible study and God gave him a heart and passion for helping those in need. During this time he also made a trip to Guatemala that forever changed how he viewed a truly worshipping church. Church, as he had known it, had been “spoiled.” That, along with the fact that his boys were the only youth in the church they attended, led them to look for another church. They decided to try three. John says, “We immediately connected with the third one, Bridgeway Evangelical Church. There was genuine fellowship, no one was in a hurry to leave after the service, and people had deeper conversations than just about weather and sports.” They have been attending since.
God has been developing John’s passion to help others. He helps lead roofing projects in the church and the community with other guys from the church. Their family housed a young Haitian boy for 16 months while he underwent surgery and rehab. He teaches a Sunday School class and leads a small group at Bridgeway. This past year he participated in a men’s 12-week discipleship journey, which has immensely helped him. He says, “I lost weight; I learned to put God first in all things; my prayer life was deepened; I have learned to be the spiritual leader in our home; and I began to have devotions with my sons (and he still does).” One of his greatest delights is that he is raising five godly young men.
God truly is in the business of transforming lives, and mobilizing them in His kingdom work!
Submitted by Bruce Moyer, Conference Superintendent
Based on a personal interview with John Parks