• 23. God Embraces My Heart

  • God Embraces My Heart 
    The things that have happened in my life, up to now, weren't resolved through the methods and ways of man, but by God. For this reason, I can't stop expressing how grateful I am to God. Since I was weak and had many lacking aspects than anybody else, I didn't have the strength or wisdom to solve the problems that I encountered. Others had wisdom and many unique skills, but since I didn't possess these traits, I could only depend and look upon God. 
    When I think back to the time I started the work of the gospel in Jangpali, I was young, did not know much, and had no special traits. I was poor, ignorant, hungry, and cold. Only difficult situations surrounded me. Yet the amazing thing was that I had God in my heart. Although I was poor, God allowed me to break away from the poverty in my heart. Even though fearful situations surrounded me, my heart did not fall into fear. Continuously, God held my heart to walk with him. So no matter what kind of fearful situations arose, I wasn't scared, and when difficulties came my way, my heart wasn't troubled. 

    During that time, I met with the brothers and sisters almost every evening. As we gathered, we sang hymns, prayed, and shared testimonies of how God had worked in our lives that day. I was able to sense the light that arose in the hearts of the brothers and sisters. It quickly turned eleven o'clock as we sat sharing the Word with an open Bible. There were many more brothers and sisters who came from downtown Guhchang than from Jangpali. So we would ride our bikes, two to three perbicycle, and head downtown singing hymns and talking. I dropped them off there and rode back to Jangpali alone in the dark. I would be filled with a thankful and happy heart before the Lord every time. Due to the power of God that strongly held my heart, I was content with just preaching the gospel and praying. I didn't have much time for anything else. 

    God comforted my heart with the Word each time I suffered from severe hunger. Even though I was angry and scared when the gangsters threatened to kill me, within the comfort of knowing that God is always with me, I was able to break away from the fear, anger and pain. When I thought that I would freeze to death due to the cold, I remembered the fish in the creek that lived under the layer of ice. The Lord who made those fish also made me. Even the fish survive in the water without freezing. So, God wouldn't leave me here to freeze to death. Therefore, my heart didn't fall into the hardships but continued to exist with hope and the Word. 

    Brother Deok Man Lee 
    I believe it was early summer in 1965. The Jangpali Church was located on a three acre land on a river bank, with a little fountain, dirt floor and a couple of chairs set out. Within that compact church I had constructed a small area which served as my living quarters. 

    The church was so hot during the summer that we had to have service with all the windows open. During evening service one day, I was preaching the Word when one youth had gotten drunk, and was singing songs by the riverbank, not even twenty meters from the service area. His singing was louder than my voice, and so it interfered with the sermon. It was unnerving. 

    Right after the service that evening, I went out to the young man. The drunk youth that was singing by the riverbank was someone I had met before. His name was Dukman Lee. He had attended one of Missionary Dick Yorks retreats in Daegu. I sat and spoke with him. "Brother, have you really been born again? How can a saved person, one who says he believes in Jesus, act like this?" As I talked to him, he got up quietly without a word and left. 

    However, the next evening, after sobering up and changing into clean clothes, he paid me a visit. I don't know what we talked about that day, but we continued to talk with our Bibles open until late at night, and surprisingly enough, his heart changed. From that moment on, he came to church each day, listened to the Word, and led a changed life. He was our brother, and we became a family. Seeing him change, I was thankful to God. 

    After the brother's father had passed away at an early age, he lived with his uncle, then he lived his life wandering about. At the time, he was caught up with the Haein gang. I figured that he felt uncomfortable staying at his uncles house, and so I asked him to come stay at church with me. He was so happy, and starting from that day, he lived with me at church. The brother's heart was very genuine and precious. He had a great love for God. I was only a year older, but he followed me, calling me older brother. I didn't have anything, but in that respect God had always helped, protected, and poured grace upon me. While Brother Dukman Lee stayed at church with us, we were all so happy. He helped me in many ways. This brother served God with all his heart and assisted me whole heartedly. 

    As some time passed, this brother turned to me and said, "Brother, I have to go to Haein to get some of my clothes." So I allowed him to go. After returning from Haein, the brother came to me and gave his testimony in tears of how grateful he was to God. 

    "During the short amount of time, I had come to Jangpali from Haein and changed through the Word, while my friends in Haein murdered a person while fighting. They all ended up in jail. If I was there, I would have been the one who would have led them in murdering someone, and would have ended up in jail myself. Each time I fought, I thought to myself. 'I have no parents, no family. I'm all alone, so I'll lead the gang. It's okay if I die.' But God loved me so He allowed me to avoid that situation and come here to be changed." 

    Starting from that moment, Brother Dukman Lee wasn't just any brother. He stayed at church with me and cooked, did the dishes, cleaned, and helped me whole-heartedly. How can anyone serve a person like me? It was God who had helped me so I wouldn't be lonely or weary. This brother was brother, friend, and family to me. During the hard times we kneeled and prayed together. When there were difficult situations, he solved them for me. When I went to preach the gospel he came along and had fellowship with the souls and sang praises together. God had raised him to be an irreplaceable fellow worker. I can not forget the cherished times spent with Brother Dukman Lee. We starved together, and when there was food, we gave it to the other to eat, not eating it ourselves. When there was a difficult task, we each wished to do it. After that brother had come to church, the works of God in the church were carried out with much strength, and there were more people who began to receive salvation. Also, if there were brothers and sisters who were in trial, he took the initiative to go and have fellowship with them. He truly was an irreplaceable companion who gave me strength. 

    God Comforts the Poor 
    Apostle Paul had said that God comforts the lowly. In the same way, having nothing to be happy about or anything to be thankful for in the flesh, God took care of me, who should have been lost in despair. Although Apostle Paul was beaten and thrown into the jail of Philippi, and had his hands and feet locked up in chains, his heart was not lost in jail or in despair. He was walking by the bright golden river of life in heaven. So he was able to praise the Lord and pray while in jail. In the same way, God didn't change my situation or environment, but He changed my heart. 

    There are many who ask me, "Pastor, how did you ever overcome the hunger and hardships?" But the surprising thing is, when I look back on the past, although I didn't have food to eat, and at times I was cold, and things were difficult, my heart wasn't lost in the poverty or hardships. God held me in His arms and led me by my hand. So while passing through the difficulties I was able to bypass them not knowing the pain, trouble or hardships. I was able to praise the Lord and be thankful always. 

    One day, I heard my wife talking with the brothers and sisters as they sat in a circle. She shared with them the testimonies of how God had helped us during the difficult times after our marriage. While hearing her share the testimonies, I thought, 'That's right, things were difficult back then.' It surprised me to hear of the difficult times because I found that these times were no longer in my memory. 

    If I think about the past, I remember testimonies of the love of God and how He had helped a lowly person like me. He showed His grace by pouring His heart upon such a person like me. It wasn't the difficult and painful memories that remained in my memory, but the testimonies of how His mercy had worked and changed me, and how the souls changed, receiving salvation and grace during our Bible seminars. 

    Once in a while, I fast, and when I fast, I experience these things. While fasting, my heart absorbs the Word, and while soaked in the Word, I forget about my hunger. As the days of the fast quickly pass by, my heart remains full of grace. There are times when I fast with others, and we gather together and read the Bible. When someone says, "I want to eat. All it talks about in the Bible is eating," my heart suddenly gains the desire to eat upon hearing this, and fasting becomes so difficult that I want to quit. Since the length of the fast was previously set, I couldn't just quit. So I continued fasting with difficulty. Although I was fasting just as at other times, my heart was lost in hunger. So it was difficult and painful. On the other hand, when my heart was filled with the Word, it was true that I was hungry, but I couldn't feel the hunger. I would forget all about it, and the fasting would end with my heart full of grace. 

    Like Chips In a Bag 
    When chips are placed in a sealed bag, no matter how humid the environment is, the chips will not become soggy. Likewise, if our hearts are wrapped in God when we pass through hardships, pain and suffering, we will certainly pass through the agony. Well pass through the sadness without suffering, and will not feel the sadness. 

    When I think of the past, I think to myself, How was I able to endure that hardship? How was I able to not fall into despair and disappointment? Looking back, I found that each time, God had embraced my heart, comforted and gave me strength. He allowed me to pour my heart into the gospel, allowed me to fill my heart with the testimonies and fellowship of the brothers and sisters, allowing me to be happy without any pain. 

    When I was lonely, empty, and when things were difficult, He had sent Brother Dukman Lee to console me. Just as the angels in heaven protect me, Brother Dukman Lee stayed by my side and helped me, allowing me to receive God's grace. He wasn't a stranger, but a relentless co-worker, friend, and precious companion. 

    Not only with Brother Dukman Lee, but in thousands of ways God poured his grace on me. Although I was lonely, I was not. I was poor but was not. I faced difficulties, but they were not difficult. I suffered, but my heart did not suffer. I was able to pass the years with a thankful heart, praising the Lord.

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