As I Begin My Testimony
On the 8th of Aug. 1994, the plane carrying our party had left Brussels and arrived at the airport in Nairobi, Kenya at 9:15pm via the Entebbe airport in Uganda. It was my first time to set foot on the ground of Africa. When we came out of the dimly lit airport, after retrieving our baggage and completing entry formalities, there were many people dressed in tattered clothing, waiting for their guests. Among them, we were easily able to find familiar faces, Sisters Dorothy and Detho. They joyfully welcomed us, and took us to the boarding house in their car. That night, I prayed to God on my knees for the first time in the land of Africa.
"Lord! For the last many years, I haven't served You; instead, You have ministered to me. Your faithful care and guidance made a gospel preacher out of a worthless, wicked and filthy person like me. And now, You even enable me to come thus far to the land of Africa. Lord, truly I haven't served You. It was You who have ministered to me till now. From now on, I would like to serve You, Lord! Please, accept my devotion!"
I heartily wanted to serve Him. Till then, it appeared as if I had served the Lord, but I was too often capricious and followed my carnal desires. Through all this, the Lord never once turned His face away from me, but devoutly stood by me. Whenever I met difficulties, and every single time I had problems, He always assisted, guided and took care of me. On looking back on this fact, I couldn't help but testify that it was not that I had served Him but that the Lord had ministered to me. I prayed on my knees before the Lord, "Father! I would like to serve You by ministering to the people of Africa. I pray that You give me the opportunity to serve You in this land of Africa."
I have been to many countries to preach the gospel. Everywhere I went I was encouraged to stay there and preach the gospel to that nation. But it was all the more in Africa. I didn't wish to return to Korea. I was strongly seized with the earnest wish to remain and preach the gospel there. However, when I thought of the work of the gospel such as the missionary school, the churches, the great gospel assembly and so on, I had to return to Korea. On my way back to Korea, the strong after-effect remained in my heart. "Why do I have to go back to Korea?"
I spent the first night in Africa like that. On the following day after breakfast, accompanied by Sisters Dorothy and Detho, we went to the assembly place which was a great stadium. There was no shade apart from the royal box in that great stadium. Nevertheless, about three thousand Africans were sitting under the sun and listening to the sermon. When a pastor preached in English, another interpreted in their native tongue. As I saw their sincere and serious hearts listening to the sermon, I couldn't repress my desire to witness, rising up from within my heart to them.
We went to the sponsors of the assembly, and I introduced myself to them. They greeted me with cheers, attached a name tag to my lapel, and appointed my preaching schedule. We took part in the assembly on that day and returned to our quarters.
It was 1993 that an Expo was held in Tae-Jeon, Korea. At that time, some young brothers in our church prepared English handbills, and with those handbills, preached the gospel to many foreigners who attended the Expo. Among them, those from Kenya heard the gospel and received salvation. In this manner, the brothers came closer to the Kenyans. Every evening after work, the brothers visited the apartment where the Kenyans were lodging, had fellowship with them, shared the Word, and prayed together.
One day, one of the brothers came and told me, "Pastor, I felt sorry for those who are from Kenya. Since the cost of living in Korea is so high, they can't afford to buy proper food. So they are eating only sweet potatoes and "Ramen" (inexpensive Korean noodles). After hearing that, I discussed with my wife, "Let's treat them to a meal." A few days later, my wife prepared Korean food with all her heart and we invited about twenty of those from Kenya to my house. That was the first time for them to have a meal at a Korean house. They enjoyed themselves, and even sang songs of praise for us as the sign of gratitude.
After having a pleasant chat, when it was about time for them to leave I asked them, "Since you all visited my country, I’d like to ask you if there is anything you would really like to do during your stay in Korea." They sincerely replied, "We are in Korea, but we are not able to be conscious of being here because we are staying only in the Exhibition Hall. We would like to travel within Korea, but we since we don’t have that ability, we wish to travel in Korea." So I offered them, "When I go on visits to the provinces, mostly the back seats of my car are empty. I can take two or three of you with me when I travel. Would you like to travel with me even in that condition?" They were overjoyed with my suggestion.
Since then, whenever I had to go to the provinces in order to preach I called them up, and they took turns traveling with me in my car. To Pusan or Mockpo, anytime I had to travel to preach the Word, I traveled along with them. While I was on friendly terms with them, the Minister of Commerce and Industry of Kenya happened to visit Korea. When the minister came to the Expo and met with his people, all of them talked to him about me. "Pastor Park is so caring. He loves our country and has been very good to us during our stay here."
After a few days, the minister called me and thanked me for my hospitality, and he wished to visit me to show his gratitude. I suggested to him, "Since you will visit me, why don't we have dinner together?" He happily accepted and came to my house that evening. We served dinner and afterwards had fellowship. Toward the end of fellowship, I handed the minister a copy of my book Only by Jesus' Work as a gift. He was delighted and asked me, "Our president attends church each Sunday and enjoys reading such Christian books, so may I have another one to give to him?" As I gave him another copy he invited me to Africa. Through these incidents, I was able to take my first step into Africa.
For a long while, we had been praying to God that He should open the way in order for us to preach the gospel in Africa. Although we prayed, we had no idea how we should go and deliver the gospel to Africa. But we witnessed that the Lord heard our prayer, and opened the way for us through such means. When I think back to that incident, it is clear not that I served the Lord, but that the Lord protected me, helped me, and ministered to me, much more than any secretary, any servant or anyone else in the world.
I have serially published the commentary of the book of Hebrews in the Good News Magazine. As this was coming to a conclusion, the Publishing House requested of me, "Pastor, we would like to publish in a series, the testimonies of how God has worked through you. Please, write your testimony." When I finished the commentary of the book of Hebrews I then began to reflect on my past. I was a servant who was always disloyal, disobedient and idle before the Lord. Nevertheless, He wonderfully aided and protected me. Many great things that the Lord did for me made me simply pray on my knees. "Lord, it was not that I served You, rather You have ministered to me. Now then, I would like to serve You, Lord!" When I think of how, with His guiding hands, He led and protected an outcast of the world like me, I can never thank Him enough. By this reason, I wish not to boast of myself or my good works but to testify how the Lord has loved, aided, and worked for me through the Good News Magazine. Just as the Lord ministered to me, He works in all of us. Therefore, I decided in my heart to write this testimony to witness and glorify God who works in such manner in us.
The Day of My Salvation
In 1962 I received my salvation after being lost in sin. I can never forget that day; the day all my sins were washed as white as snow; the day the burden of my sin was removed. The peace and gratitude in my heart on that day could equate to that of the servant who received from his master the forgiveness of a debt of ten thousand talents. From that moment on, my heart became very close to God's since the obstacle of sin was broken down. The Lord heard my prayer. Then such things as the peace and joy that I had never had before, the encouragement to preach the gospel and the longing to treasure the Word kept coming into my heart from the Lord. Great and blessed things that I had not been able to dream of possessing in the past began to fill my heart one after another.
As I reflect on my past, not an inch of me was truly happy, thankful or peaceful. I didn't possess the least bit of love, faith or hope either. Just as a doctor operates on a cancer patient to find a huge cancer where stomach, intestines, liver, and gall should be, the Lord found only carnal desires in my heart; in the heart which was created to contain peace, joy, thanks, love and hope. Having failed by following after lust, my heart became filled with complaint, hatred, wickedness, falsehood and so on. There was no way to find a bit of peace within my heart. And there was no rest, love or faith in any corner of my heart.
My beloved Lord knocked on the door of my heart which was filthy and headed for destruction. And He opened the door of such a heart and began to fill it with His love, peace, and joy. Owing to that grace, such a wicked and filthy sinner as me became righteous through the righteousness of Jesus. I began to lead a holy life by the holiness of Jesus and enjoy the peace He has given. Looking forward to tomorrow with the hope that Jesus has given, I am leading a different life. I can only testify that it is all by the grace of the living God. The Lord opened the door for us to deliver the gospel to Africa when we prayed for Africa. He also answered our prayer and allowed us to preach the gospel in prisons and leper towns although with much opposition. And He enabled us, who had many shortcomings, to preach the gospel in Russia, China, and Japan, as well as many other countries by dispatching missionaries.
Having received salvation and returned to the Lord, I was able to experience these great and glorious works. Just as a pretty flower blooms upon a heap of dirty manure, God made my filthy and wicked heart clean and planted His precious works in it. Through the Good News Magazine, I would like to deliver the precious work of God to the readers from now on. As much as possible, I want that same grace of the Lord I received to find a place in the heart of everyone who is reading this testimony. As a result, I wish that the Lord Who saved me could also work in you and all of you will dwell in His grace and blessings. This testimony is an introductory to many more to come.