Harvard Law Ministry Director Has a Passion for Revival
by catherine elvy, staff writer
Since his seminary days of two decades ago, Justin Yim has been fervently praying for revival to ignite across New England. Now, the longtime pastor will have a chance to mentor law students and encourage them to seek God fervently via his new position with Christian Union. This fall, Yim stepped into the role of the ministry director for the organization’s ministry at Harvard Law School.
“I always had a heart for New England,” said Yim, who grew up in New York City and attended seminary in Massachusetts. “When this opportunity came up with Christian Union, my wife and I felt a pang in our hearts. God has always been faithful, and we felt like it was time.”
After more than 11 years of pastoring in Upstate New York, Yim relocated his family to coastal Massachusetts during the fall. “We sensed that our assignment in New York was done, and it was time to return to New England,” said Yim, who graduated from Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 2002.
Yim is excited about the prospect of watching God transform the lives of some of the nation’s brightest legal minds at Harvard Law School. “The sky is the limit,” said Yim. “God is doing something unique at Harvard. There is a lot of activity that is really encouraging. You just want to be a part of where God is moving.”
Indeed, Yim’s life story is a testament to the providence of God. He was born in South Korea, but grew up in Queens, New York, as the son of a missionary to the local Korean community. His father hailed from North Korea, where he was once jailed for his Christian faith. The elder Yim managed to escape to South Korea, where he met his wife, a nurse and solid prayer warrior.
As early as 14, Yim sensed a calling to the ministry. Still, Yim’s father insisted that his son make certain of a divine calling and encouraged practical collegiate courses. With that, Yim earned a degree in psychology from the University of Rochester in 1989 and waited until 1995 to begin seminary studies.
After completing a graduate divinity degree, Yim headed to Greenland, New Hampshire, where he served in a series of pastoral capacities at a local church. During 11 years with Bethany Church, Yim labored as youth pastor, worship arts pastor, and young adults pastor. He notes that once he simultaneously held three positions.
While in New Hampshire, Yim married the former Melissa Schafer, who currently works in Deloitte’s consulting division as a senior manager. During his tenure at Bethany, Yim also watched the church triple in size to become home to 2,000-plus worshippers.
In 2007, Yim joined the expanding team at Grace Fellowship Church, which now operates four campuses of 3,000-plus congregants in New York’s Capital District. In addition to launching and serving as lead pastor of the Halfmoon campus, Yim helped Grace Fellowship expand into East Greenbush and Saratoga Springs. “That was a transformative time in my life,” said Yim.
Following 11 years at Grace, the Yims sensed a divine appointment to return to New England. After prayer and geographical research, the couple relocated their four children, ages 8 to 16, to Newburyport, Massachusetts, a scenic, historic town 40 or so miles north of Boston.
Providentially, Yim learned of the opportunity to serve with Christian Union’s ministry to students at Harvard Law after resettling in Massachusetts. The nature and mission of Christian Union’s ministry deeply resonated with Yim, who is enthusiastic about discipling emerging professionals. “My passion is to ground people in the power and truth of God’s Word,” said Yim.
At Harvard, he wants legal student believers to learn to “apply God’s Word in real time.” As well, he desires for aspiring lawyers to approach the judicial realm as persons of faith. In a nod to his rich pastoral background, Yim noted he is akin to a spiritual entrepreneur. “I love the challenge of building a foundation that will far outlive me,” he said.
To learn more about the ministry at Harvard Law School, click here.