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July 17, 2023

When an Office is Symbolic: The Importance of Intercultural Studies

Written By Grace Theological Seminary

Dr. Stephen and Rachel Park have been committed to leadership development, and they truly understand the importance of intercultural studies. Throughout the decades, their mission field has been anywhere God leads, training missionaries and pastors to go all around the world.

After working with different organizations to get a Korean Doctoral Studies program up and rolling, the degree found its home at Grace Theological Seminary (GTS) in 2010. After working with Grace informally for several years, the Parks knew that being nested into GTS would allow the ministry to thrive. 

For the Korean students in the program, Drs. Stephen and Rachel serve as their GTS representatives. They help them get admitted into the program, and answer any questions they have. The Parks serve as mentors and guides to these students on their way to broader ministry impact. Whether they find themselves in Winona Lake, their offices in southern California, or at their new office in Seoul, Korea, their goal is to raise up missionaries and ministry leaders who take the Gospel to new places. 


Training and Sending

The Parks’ concentrated work at GTS is simply the next step in a lifetime committed to mission work. Stephen and Rachel met in 1978, while Stephen was a seminary student in Korea. Their introduction at a mission-focused prayer meeting was only the beginning of a life together. By the end of that year, they were married. 

After Stephen completed his Master of Theology (Th.M.) work from Fuller Seminary in 1986, they immediately began overseas work in Moscow, Russia, where they continued their work until 2022. During that time, Stephen became the Director of the Missionary Training Institute for five years, training others for missions work around the world. 

They were not done with their own training, however, as Stephen would earn his Doctor of Intercultural Studies degree from Grace in 2009, and Rachel earned the same in 2011. Their focus on intercultural studies continued with their full-time work at GTS. 

For the Parks, no job is insignificant. They do the tedious work of translating all lectures and class notes from English into Korean. Serving as the intercessor between GTS administration and the many Korean doctoral students, they help their students navigate the program requirements and any cultural differences. 


Finding an Office

Because the Korean Doctoral program is largely online, students do not need to meet in a particular classroom. The same could be said for Stephen, who has been in charge of enrollment for this program. While an office was not a necessity to have an office located in Korea, there were clear disadvantages.

“I had a difficult time sharing my business card with pastors in Korea,” says Stephen. “They would see that all of my contact information was based in the United States. It caused them to view GTS as something that was foreign and unattainable.”

But recently the doctoral studies program has found an official home in Seoul, Korea. While this certainly helps prospective students to view GTS as a legitimate option, Stephen says the office is largely symbolic. For the convenience and comfort of the students, most of their meetings still take place in nearby cafes and restaurants. Yet when Stephen wants to hand out a business card, it now has a Korean address.


Why it Matters

The Parks are still doing what they have always done. An address change and a sign on an office door have not changed the passion with which they train ministry leaders. That’s because the importance of intercultural studies will never diminish. 

You can learn more about our Korean Doctoral programs here and discover your own potential for ministry leadership. Explore all of our programs by watching the promotional video on Grace College’s YouTube channel, visiting, or talking to an admissions counselor at