• 19. The Brutal Gangsters

  • When I first entered Ahpgok Village, the only thing I knew was that I was saved. Of course while staying at missionary school I learned the scriptures and received grace, but when I preached the gospel not many received salvation through me. 

    Whenever I met people, I shared with them the Words I knew hoping that a soul would receive salvation. However, they were just tired of listening to what I had to say and didn't pay much attention. 

    But as I spent much time praying and reading the Bible in Ahpgok Village, the Bible revealed the state of my heart and continued to change it. So afterwards, Sister Son was the first to receive salvation through me. 

    The Brutal Gangsters 

    Even after going to Jangpali, I wasn't one who was able to do well. When I first arrived at Jangpali, there were junior high and high school students, who were mostly female. When I think back to that period in time, the thing that I am most grateful before the Lord was that I lived a life where we gathered together each evening and had Bible study, prayed, and shared testimonies till late at night. Then afterwards we parted. Back in those days, we gathered together without missing a single day. During this time, God worked in us, and the students began to receive salvation one by one. 

    While I stayed in Jangpali, there was one incident I will never forget. Missionary Mecarpi had established the Jangpali church, and before I went to minister at that church as a co-pastor, there was one who ministered there before me. At that time, Missionary Mecarpi had given that co-pastor fifteen dollars for living expenses, but it wasn't enough for the life he had led. So as the witnessing didn't go well and he lost all prospect of the people receiving salvation, the co-pastor disregarded the Jangpali church and established a church at a place called Ichon. Because he poured his heart upon the Ichon church, he was unable to work much within the Jangpali church. Therefore the Jangpali church became weaker. Pained by such a sight, Missionary Mecarpi called Missionary Dick, asking him to send a missionary to Jangpali, and the missionary who was sent was me. 

    As I went to the Jangpali church, the fifteen dollars that the previous missionary had received was no longer given to him. As his funds were cut off, the previous missionary of the Jangpali church set plans to kick me out. Every Sunday service the co-pastor would sit in front of the chapel doors and direct the students to a different area where he would lead them in hymns and service. It pained me to see this. The students were still young and didn't know what was what, and so they would listen well to that co-pastor's words and would disregard mine. 

    But still, one by one there were those who received salvation through me. The church grew stronger, and eventually the co-pastor hired gangsters to kick me out. One evening as the student brothers, sisters and I were reading the Bible, sharing testimonies, and praying, the gangsters barged into the room in the chapel with their shoes on. We were so surprised that we didn't know what to do. 

    The gangsters beat me and yelled at me, threatening me to leave. Receiving the blows were difficult, but what enraged me even more was that I was being insulted before the brothers and sisters who had heard the Word through me, and who were being raised in the church. The brothers and sisters were still so young that they trembled with fear in a corner. Although the gangsters came in by their own free will with their shoes on, kicking things and hitting me, there was no one to stop them. After they made such a racket and left, I was so embarrassed of having been demeaned before the brothers and sisters, that I couldn't lift up my face, and just sent them home. 

    Into Deep Prayer 
    All alone, I cried and cried out of anger, but later found myself praying before God. When God had sent me to Ahpgok Village, He made it so that I couldn't help but to read the Bible, and thus filled my heart with the Word. But now in Jangpali, He was causing me to undergo these hardships so that I couldn't help but to pray. 

    When I underwent that difficult and infuriating situation, all I could do was to pray. Out of my enraged and resentful heart, and out of fear that, "what if they return and harass us again?" I prayed to God throughout the night, unable to sleep, saying, "God, if those people return tomorrow, what am I to do? I really loathe those people, please God stop them." 

    Meanwhile God had formed a new way of life within my heart, and that was to commune with God. So as a habit I began to wake up at about one o'clock every morning and just poured out all my problems in prayer. And when I prayed, I didn't just pray. I believed that, 'God will answer these prayers. He will work within these prayers. This isn't what I want but what God wants, so God will fulfil it.' So although I was tired when I started, by the time I was done my heart was filled with the Holy Spirit. 

    At times I would be so tired, but I would still wake up around 1 AM. Those days when I was too tired to pray, I would say, 'God, today I'm so tired. I don't want to pray, but rather just go to sleep,' and that's how I would start praying. Then within no time my heart became filled, and the problems that troubled my heart were all resolved within the prayer. Then afterwards I was able to pass out and sleep being filled with hope and happiness. At Jangpali, God had led my life to that of prayer. 

    Although I stayed at Jangpali close to a year and a half, God had led me to a life of deep prayer. It was a grace that nothing in this world could provide. During the remainder of my stay at Jangpali, there were many brothers and sisters who became saved, and we were able to share testimonies and our hearts. However, when I had first arrived at Jangpali, there were only young junior high school students, and so there was no brother or sister I could share my heart with. And because I was also immature and young, when I had to undergo such hardships I didn't know how to go about them. So I was very confused and troubled, but in order to meet with me in a life of prayer, God had allowed many difficulties such as these. Although I attempted to solve the problems through humanistic methods, there wasn't any way to solve them, so I couldn't help but to pray. And each time I prayed God filled my heart with the Holy Spirit. When I started a prayer, I started within concern, anxiety, and fear, 'how am I to solve this problem?' But as I finished praying and laid down to sleep, God had truly led my heart little by little into peace, joy, and hope that could not be found anywhere in the world. When I still think back to the period I stayed at Jangpali, I'm so grateful before the Lord who had led me then. Because I stayed at the church alone, the time I spent waking up in the middle of the night, praying out loud and giving praise...the nights spent in Jangpali were such joyous nights filled with blessing. 

    As the days passed, and people received salvation one by one, I had delivered sermons every Sunday starting from Nehemiah chapter one. Amidst the many people who opposed and looked down upon us, the members of the Jangpali church grew one by one, just as Nehemiah built the city walls amidst the disruption of Sanballat, Tobiah and many other people. The situation that I was in seemed similar to the situation that Nehemiah went through when building the walls of Jerusalem. The scriptures in the book of Nehemiah touched my heart even more. I acquired tremendous strength when I saw how the brothers and sisters also gained strength as we studied the book of Nehemiah. 

    So We Can Benefit 
    Although it may seem as if God just allows us to encounter problems here and there, He does this in order to lead us deeper into God's spiritual world. God doesn't just do something without any purpose. I was able to see how He worked so we can benefit. At that time I may have been hungry, cold, and had no hope whatsoever in this world, with many who opposed me, but as it all passed I was able to realize that it was all for my blessing. Through these things, my heart wasn't pulled by the world, and I was not able to follow after my own desires. When I think about how God had led my life to look only to Him, and to pray to Him, I cannot express it all in words God's immeasurable grace. I can't help but to feel thanks over and over again when I think about how God is still guiding us, and living inside of us.

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