• 18. A Very Strange Book

  • A Very Strange Book 
    Whenever I give a testimony about the time passed, I can't help but be moved by the grace of the love of God who leads a person like me. When I entered Ahpgok Village, I didn't know anything. Although I was trained and learned the Word in missionary school, I didn't preach it well. I didn't know how to preach the gospel, and my prayers lacked depth. But, God lead my heart while I stayed in Ahpgok Village. 

    While at Ahpgok Village I spent most of my mornings reading the Bible. But the more I read the Bible, I thought, "The Bible is a very strange book." It was a book that changed man's heart after reading the Bible. At that time my life was very poor, difficult, and full of hunger without any hope. However, as I opened the Bible and read it, I gained hope and faith. The belief that, "Oh, if I go and continue to preach the gospel, the children will receive salvation," sprang forth from my heart. 

    The Apgok Village Gathering That Grew In Grace 
    As sister Sohn received salvation, the atmosphere in Ahpgok Village changed a lot. There were a lot of young women in Ahpgok Village, and as they received salvation one by one and their friends got connected. So nearly all the young women in that village attended the church. The young elementary school students also followed and received salvation. Therefore, upon returning to Ahpgok Village after having gone somewhere, I could hear the hymns: "The World with Much Sorrow and Worries, A life with Lamentation, Load of Sin is upon calvary, Jesus is my Lord", or "The Lord loves me, He carried the cross for my Sin", being sung from far away. 

    The people of Ahpgok Village went out to work in the fields during the day, and in the evenings they returned to do the housework. There was little job to do during the evenings, because the village didn't have electricity. Therefore, most people either went to bed early or gathered and played. However, our young brothers and sisters would gather each evening after having completed both outdoor and indoor chores, and learn new hymns, share testimonies of how God had helped us that day. I also opened the Bible and taught the Word step by step, then afterwards held prayer meetings with the brothers and sisters. Time passed so quickly and the brothers and sisters would return their homes late. 

    When sister Sohn, a married woman, began to participate in such meetings with the young adults, the atmosphere of meetings got better. Other married women began to take interest and to attend church one by one. When I met the villagers on the road or in the fields, I didn't know what I have to do. But I was often able to told about Jesus to them with hope in my heart. The village people who didn't attend church treated me as a person who was doing great works. As such time had passed, I was able to see my heart being filled with the Lord, and came to sink deeper into the abundance of the grace of the Holy Spirit. 

    As I Went Back and Forth Between Apgok Village and Jangpali 
    One day, a small letter was sent to me. It was a letter sent by a young sister named Hak-soon Lee, who lived in Jangpali. This student was one of the sisters form the Kuhchang church. I met her at the retreat that was held at Wechun Tower with Missionary Dick York and missionary Mecarpi. That sister was in the 3rd year in Middle school, and this is the contents of a letter; 

    "Dear brother Park, 
    Brother Park, our minister hadn't yet arrived even on Sundays. Some children came to church, then soon returned home because there was no one to lead service. This situation cuts me to the quick. This is the reason why I write the letter. To make it worse, our minister had said he would no longer come to our church. Would you come to Jangpali and preach the Word to these children?" 

    When I read that letter, I was so anxious to hear that because there was no one to preach the word, these children just played, and then return home. Therefore, having decided to go to the Jangpali church, I explained the situation to the brothers and sisters in Ahpgok Village. Once in a while I would go to the Jangpali church and teach the children God's Word, then return to Ahpgok. 

    The 20 kilometer distance from Ahpgok Village to Jangpali was upon an upward sloping path. Not having fare for transportation, I would walk all the way there to deliver the Word, then put up for a night and return to Ahpgok Village the next day. Although walking 20 km was very tiring and fatiguing, as I saw the children of Jangpali gather to hear the Word and learn hymns in happiness, I couldn't let them be. So I promised to go regularly. Therefore, from then on, I would stay in Ahpgok Village from Tuesday to Friday, and from Saturday to Monday, for three days I spent my time in Jangpali leading servie and preaching the Gospel. Going back and forth between two places was very tiring for the flesh. The road from Ahpgok Village to Jangpali was a dirt road, which whenever a car passed by pebbles would bounce up off the road. When it rained, whenever a car passed by, the water would spray and so it was harder to avoid the cars rather than having to walk. Yet, when I thought of the twinkling eyes of the kids who joyfully listened to the Words I preached, I became overflowed with hope and gained strength. From Ahpgok Village to Jangpali, and Jangpali to Ahpgok Village, while traveling back and forth preaching the Gospel, God provided me with a new strength each time. The children in Ahpgok Village grew, and while I am away, they would gather amongst themselves sharing testimonies, praying, and sharing the Word. In turn, with a joyous heart, I was able to continue on. 

    When I look back upon the past, I was able to realize that we always think of only one thing, where as God not only works to allow me to preach the Gospel in many respects, but also, through such situations I experienced how allowed my heart to grow little by little. As I went to Jangpali and preached the Word, I also visited neighboring villages to preach the gospel. On market days I went to the Kuchang and delivered the Word. I would also visit the Kuchang police station and delivered the Word unto the people in the jail cells. After teaching the brothers and sisters of Jangpali hymns, I took them to the prison cells to sing hymns and afterwards we gave testimonies and then we have the time of delivering the Word. As I spent my time in this manner, God allowed my heart to gradually grow. 

    Sent to Minister In Keochang 
    One day, I got a call from missionary Dick at the Daegu missionary school. He told me of the Jangpali church's situation. After erecting a church in Jangpali, missionary Mecarpi had set a Korean minister to lead the church, who had been receiving $15 for his ministry each month. However, the $15 wasn't sufficient for the life the Korean minister lead, and witnessing in Jangpali was very difficult as well. Therefore he went to a place called Buk-Sang and there began a church. As he spent his time there, he didn't oversee the Jangpali church. Since missionary Mecarpi felt he could no longer watch over the Jangpali church, he asked missionary Dick in Daegu to take charge and lead the Jangpali church. Upon receiveing this news, he had decided to send me to Jangpali and called me saying, "Go and preach the gospel in Jangpali. I leave the church up to you." 

    So in May of 1964, I formally left Ahpgok Village and moved to Jangpali and began preaching the gospel there. But when I left Ahpgok Village, sister Sohn had gone away to sell her goods and so wasn't there. Whenever the sister left, she wouldn't be back for one or two weeks. So I couldn't let her know about this news. After I left, sister Sohn returned to Ahpgok Village from her vending and stopped by my house with some food in hand. But I wasn't there and the alminum pot that was always in the kitchen that was in front of my room was missing as well. She was so surprised that she felt as if the heavens were falling. The next day she recklessly headed for Kuchang and without knowing my address came to meet me. It was the market day, and I was witnessing alone. I would often sing praises alone, and if the people gathered I would deliver the Word and have one on one fellowship. Therefore all the people in the market was able to easily spot me. That is how sister Sohn easily found me in the market, and she was very glad. Upon completing the witnessing, I stepped back and sat at the side of the market place and prayed with her. 

    Sister Sohn's Bible Study In Kwonbin 
    After Sister Sohn and I prayed, we began to talk about this and that when I said to her, "Sister Sohn, why don't you start Bible study in Kwobin where you live." 
    "Oh no, I can't do that. I have lived too long in Japan and so am unfamiliar with the Korean language, and I cannot teach the Bible, how can I lead Bible study? I can't do it," she refused, all startled and taken aback. However, I thought because I couldn't go to Apgok village often, only beginning a Bible Study group could survive and grow the heart of sister Sohn. And so I persistently replied, "What are you talking about? The servant of God is telling you to do this, so don't say anything else and call the children together and have a Bible Study." 
    Sister Sohn who had been refusing then said, "Then I'll try," and returned to Apgok Village. 

    A while later, I heard the news that sister Sohn had begun Bible Study in Kwonbin. One evening I wanted to see how sister Sohn lead Bible Study, and went to the house where she was holding study in Kwonbin. She was sitting in a little room with 13 children and was teaching them the Words of a hymn written on the back of a calender under the light of an oil lamp. Although the Words were right, the melody didn't match at all. Hearing her lead the Bible Study I was let down. "Oh my, the way she's teaching the kids, what will come of it?" disappointed, I returned to Kuhchang. 

    However, God had worked in sister Sohn. As sister Sohn preached the gospel in Kuhchang, the children received salvation one by one. In Kwonbin one married woman who had left her baby with a child to work in the fields all day arrived home in the evening. No matter how muck she searched for her baby to feed him, she couldn't find him, and so she went out looking for him. She heard that he was at sister Sohn's place where they were having Bible Study, and so there she went. That wife became moved by the Words sister Sohn was preaching as she listened by the window I had listened to before. So she returned the next day and heard the gospel from the sister and received salvation. When I went around witnessing in Kwonbin, there was no person who received salvation. But when sister Sohn preached the gospel, the number of married women who received salvation began to grow. 

    Kwonbin was originally a place where there were a lot of people who worshipped idols. In that village of about 160 families, there were approximately forty shamans who worshipped evil spirits; so there were many worshippers. Since the town had the evil spirits' powerful work, there were many cases where people died because they were followed by these demons. These people were able to hear of Jesus Christ through sister Sohn, and one by one they came to sister Sohn, heard the gospel, and received salvation. And when they were ill, sister Sohn prayed for them and they got better, and the works of demons being cast out through sister Sohn's prayers, arose. There were more works of God and people who received salvation and change in Kwonbin, than when I was there. 

    And so sister Sohn preached the gospel in Ahpgok Village in this manner, and I preached the gospel in Jungpal, Kuhchang. I was able to see how God caused our hearts to grow and be filled with the Word day by day.

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