• 16. Alone in Apshil, Apgok-dong

  • Alone in Apshil, Apgok-dong 
    It was the beginning of the summer of 1963 when we first started our lives in the village of Ahpgok-dong during our training in missionary school. We then returned to Daegu to continue our training as the second class entered. Afterwards, I returned to the village of Ahpgok-dong, while Brother Yoo, who had lived with me, left for a district in Kyungbuk, called Kuneui, to preach the gospel. I then moved from Saetuh to Ahpshil and restarted my life alone in the village of Ahpgok-dong. 

    When I had returned to Ahpgok village, there were a couple of brothers who remembered me. Every couple of months, these brothers would come visit us with detergent, toothbrushes, and toothpaste in hand, and we were able to gain much strength through them. 

    When I look back at the life I led in Ahpgok village, I realize that it was truly a life led by God's power. I remained in Ahpgok village till May of 1964, and hadn't had the slightest worldly hope. If I'd have thought, "Until when must I stay here? How will I live?" I would probably have ran away thinking, "I'll probably starve to death if I stay here."¡? 

    However, strangely enough, God had made it so that I wouldn't think of my future. All I had to do while living in Ahpgok village was to meet the children and teach them songs, preach the gospel, and travel from house to house preaching the word and praying. These things brought me such joy that was enough for me to overcome the hunger, hardships, and problems that I faced. 

    Two Sound Lessons 
    When we were training in missionary school, there were lessons that were strictly taught to us. Among those was the necessity of having quiet time. No matter what, each day we took the time to quietly reflect upon the Word and bow our heads before the Lord in prayer. Quiet time was a time for us to fill ourselves with God's Word each day, to live with God's heart and not by our own thoughts, as well as to converse with Him in prayer. 

    Another key lesson was about money. The missionary had taught us to never hint of our need for money to others, but to only pray to the Lord. While living as a human being on this earth, there are many things we need, but because we are God's servants, while we are doing His works, He fills those needs. Therefore, not only do we have the right to ask God for our needs, but He had also said that He would listen. The missionary had also taught us to be embarrassed of letting others know of our necessities rather than praying to God, because this comes from not believing the promise that God will provide us with what we need. Not only can we not tell others, but we can't even give a hint that we are needy. Looking to others and hinting that our situation is difficult, that we're hungry, or that we need bus fare, comes from not believing that God will answer our prayers. Therefore, God, who weighs the faith of our hearts, cannot work within us when our hearts contain disbelief. So the missionary strongly urged us to, "Go to a secluded room and ask only of God through prayer, and do not let others know of all that you are in need. Don't tell, nor suggest anything. That way God will help and work in you.

    As We Eat the Meat God Provides Us 
    Of course as I stayed in Ahpgok village I went through much hardships and even starved at times. Back then, there wasn't a single born again believer who would remember us enough to help us. There were a few brothers and sisters, who, from time to time, brought us things like laundry detergent, toothpaste, and toothbrushes when they visited us. But from what I can remember, that was just about two or three times. 

    There were many people living in Ahpgok village, but they weren't in the position to help us. The reason being that Ahpgok village consisted of hills and valleys, and it was from the farm plots they made in the form of stairs that the residents would live off of by eating what they produced. Therefore, the crops they harvested each year were still scarce for a whole family to live off of during the year. Of course amongst the villagers, there were those families that lived well, however, we were clearly able to see that most of the people of the town went through much pains due to the scarcity of food. When spring comes around, there isn't enough food, so the villagers go into the mountain to search for food, and would obtain stuff to eat trough many different methods. Hence, it was difficult for them to even think of helping us. 

    While living in Ahpgok village, if we had money, we usually bought and ate wheat. Back then, it was the cheapest grain. We would put it in the pot and sprinkled a bit of salt and then boiled it to eat. We would scoop a bit for breakfast, and the rest we left for lunch. We would add more water and allow the grains to expand more by cooking it. Doing this made it good for us to eat. Without even a full hob of wheat we were able to survive a day, but a whole measure of wheat lasted us throughout the week. For that reason, I usually went to the market and bought a measure of wheat. I couldn't ever dream of having sugar, but if I added a bit of margarine or saccharine, it made the wheat tastier. I haven't had boiled wheat after that, but back then, it was the cheapest and it lasted us the longest with the small amount of money we had. It fulfilled our need for food that is why we would often buy wheat. Whenever I think about it, I can't possibly express in words the gratitude towards God who had provided the wheat for us. There is still one thing that I can't believe happened, which mystifies me, and that is the fact that I was able to survive without starving to death in Ahpgok village where none of the residents helped nor did the brothers and sisters. 

    God's power didn't lack to feed the 600,000 Israelites, who having traveled through the wilderness, left Egypt to go to Canaan. While staying in Ahpgok village, God had fed me, even though I was unable to receive help from anyone, not even the people who lived there. Although at times I starved and ate wheat, God didn't leave me to starve to death. The appreciation I feel when I think of the fact that He fed me, cannot be expressed in words. 

    Till May of 1964, while staying in Ahpgok village, I truly experienced God being alive and knew that He was feeding me each moment. At times we starved, but not because God didn't have sufficient power to feed us, but because there was need for us to starve. Things were also difficult at times, but not because the Lord didn't have the strength to help us, it was because we needed such hardships. The God who fed us and protected us lacked nothing 

    Praying in the Bamboo Garden 

    The house we lived in, in Ahpshil, had a large bamboo garden in the back yard. Early in the morning before the others woke up, I went to the bamboo garden. If you enter the bamboo garden, you'll find that it is tightly surrounded by growing bamboo trees, therefore it is dark. I would often kneel there and pray to God. For a while at first I would pray saying, "God, please do this and that for me." As thirty minutes passed in prayer, then an hour, I could no longer tell if I'm in Ahpgok village, the bamboo garden, or in heaven before the throne of God. As I spilled everything before the Lord and discussed my life with Him through prayer, God gave me a heart I didn't have before. Therefore, after prayer, I was able to rise with renewed strength and hope. 

    Since my heart was thus filled with God, I didn't have the time or space to worry about, "What will I eat, what will I wear, or how will I live." My heart was always filled with hope in God. That is why, while I lived in Ahpgok village, although I lived in the world, it seemed as if I was living with God in a palace in heaven. Things were difficult, and at times I hungered. God didn't neglect me and leave me to starve, but moment-by-moment I experienced Him feeding me. Therefore, from that day till the present, the things that I had come to need, I sought before God without asking or hinting the need for a single penny to others. And each time, God had helped me with His true strength. 

    When I look back on the past forty years after receiving salvation, as I experienced God feeding me amidst a life in Ahpgok village, where there was no one to help me, I realized that , "God truly is alive, He knows me, He hears my prayers, and He protects me." After realizing this, I never stretched forth my hand towards others. 

    Even With the Great Works of the Gospel 

    While doing the works of the gospel, there comes the need to build chapels and retreat centers, to have grand conferences and hold retreats, as well as many other things. So, there obviously is a need for money. There were many dismal and frustrating times when we had to prepare for a retreat and didn¡?t have a penny left by the first day of the retreat. The surprising thing is that when I look back I find that whenever we prayed for the need for a large amount of money while carrying out the works of the gospel, God helped us without fail. Therefore, when having Bible Seminars over seas, broadcasting T.V. sermons, publishing books, running the missionary school, having a retreat, when borrowing a gymnasium for a bible seminar, or many other things that may arise, there wasn¡?t a single time where we failed to complete the task due to insufficient funds. We were able to see God feed, protect, and take care of everything so we wouldn't have to suffer on account of the lack of money. We perceive cancer to be a severe illness, while a cold is very mild, but when God looks at the two; they're both the same. Just as this, to us a million dollars seems like a huge amount, where as tens of dollars isn't much; but to God a million dollars and ten dollars are one in the same. That is why what we may have considered as being a lot, to God, giving us that kind of money wasn't a problem. 

    Before we prayed for small amounts of money, believing our prayers will be answered. However, there were many times that we prayed for large sums of money with disbelief. But, as I thought of the God who fed and protected me while I lived in Ahpgok village, my faith in God grew, allowing me to depend on Him. The faith that I gained provided great strength while I preached the gospel. 

    God Who Ensures That Nothing Is Lacking In the Works of the Gospel 
    God truly is alive and working. There is nothing that He lacks or is in need of. Because He protects, feeds, and guides us, we are not wanting. But, because we lack the faith in Him, we are often entirely concerned with, "What will I eat, what will I drink, what will I wear?"¡? 

    To this day, amongst those who preach the gospel there are a lot of ministers, who being unable to leave their lives up to God, their hearts are caught up in trying to live a better life. Those people aren't true servants of God. If one were to live for the gospel, if they were a true servant of God, then they would boldly preach God's gospel and leave their lives up to the Lord, putting faith in Him: He who doesn't lack in His ability to feed and clothe us. God is wanting in His power, to protect, feed and clothe us. 

    When I think back to life in Ahpgok village and Guhchang, there were hard times, and through those circumstances, God tested my faith. Afterwards, He helped me with the hardships, such as the large amounts of money I was in need of, so that I wouldn't lack in performing the works of the gospel. When I think of the grace, which God has poured upon me, I can't put in words the great appreciation I feel.

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