In 1986 we had an earthshaking spiritual awakening. We were finally, after 25 years of marriage, on the same page spiritually and going in the same direction – a great joy to both of us.
In 1992 we were introduced to a parachurch ministry, Freedom in Christ Ministries (FICM), that captured our hearts. Based on what we found out about the ministry, we did not have the credentials (to be an ordained pastor) that the ministry required. We both prayed and watched for what God wanted for us. Although we had a successful business, we knew it was not the work that we were to pursue long term. God had something different in mind.
In January, 1993, we were asked to go on a short-term mission trip to Russia to disciple new believers. It was one of the highest spiritual blessings of our lives, and it was a lot like being in Acts chapter 2 on the day of Pentecost.
We participated in this Russian awakening through sharing the gospel, discipling new believers, and making many new friends. We returned to Russia four more times. We thought that a ministry in Russia might be where the Lord wanted us to serve Him, and we were willing. We were allowed to see much fruit and were privileged to help plant a church in northern Russia that continues to grow and serve the Lord there today.
In 1994, we began helping our friends in FICM do “Discipleship Counseling” at conferences in the United States. In 1996, these friends were assigned another job in the ministry, and they asked if we would temporarily lead the conference counseling for six months. We had not lost sight of our desire to serve in this ministry, but because of the credential issue we thought that a position would not be offered. Then our mentor friends told us they were not returning to the conference ministry.
The Lord works in mysterious ways. Although we were not staff members, we became the discipleship counseling trainers for the ministry, and ultimately, I became Chairman of the Board of Directors for the ministry.
Also in 1995, we found out through routine blood work that Alandra had kidney disease. Her kidney function stayed constant at about 30% for seven years.
In 1996, we were invited to travel to Asia and Australia to help and teach at the conferences with the founder. We saw this as an answer to our prayer of how God was continuing to lead us to serve Him. We did not sense that God was through with us yet, and we began asking Him to speak to us through His Word, which He did.
“I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living! Wait for the Lord, be strong, and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the Lord!” –Psalms 27:13-14
One of our friends, Peggy Mobley, who we met through FICM, volunteered to give Alandra a kidney. To our surprise, the kidney was a match. The odds of this happening were 1,000,000 to 1.
God, for all intents, healed Alandra through this transplanted kidney.
We continued the ministry God called us to, and we have welcomed two additional grandchildren to the family, who Alandra has been blessed to know and love.
In 2002 – 10 years later – Alandra’s transplanted kidney failed. This time, we were in our mid-sixties and getting a kidney, particularly through the organ donor registry, is much more difficult. God encouraged us to pray, asking for what we wanted and needed to continue living. As we prayed, two women offered to give Alandra a kidney. Of course God does things that defy our understanding, and they both were a match, which is beyond statistical probabilities.
So five years ago, Alandra received a kidney from her dear friend Susie Gunter, and it continues to work well today. Praise the Lord!!
As we look back at the call and the service we were allowed to give to the Lord even as we went through the trials of health issues, I am reminded of Psalm 37:4:
“Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
Today, we continue to disciple and encourage people to connect with God at a deep level as we serve as small group leaders, a Work Faith Encourager, etc. We have seen and experienced the faithfulness of God. He never fails, and nothing is too hard for God.
Hal and Alandra Parks have been married 56 years. They have two daughters and five grandchildren. Hal is a retired electrical engineer, and Alandra is a homemaker. They’ve been members of Brook Hills since 2006.