• 26. Ock Soo, How Was It for You?

  • Ock Soo, How Was It for You? 
    In 1965, I left the Jangpali church to join the army. That year was a year full of blessing. When I left the Jangpali church, after having been there for a year and a half, I was deeply touched as I thought about the grace and works which God had performed in a foolish and filthy person as I. 

    Among the many blessings I received, was my older brother receiving salvation. My siblings consisted of three boys and two girls; an older brother, two older sisters, me, and a younger brother, which made five in all. My older brother was twelve years older than me, so I had feared him as I feared my father. My brother had gotten married and raised a family in our hometown with my father. He lived like others; farming, drinking, and playing cards. It was a normal life. However, in 1965, he received salvation. 

    Just before I left for the army, my brother attended a retreat we had at the Jangpali church. I remember that retreat being our first one. There were about fifty-to-sixty people who had gathered. At that time, our church had two rooms and a service hall that was structured with some type of tin material. The floor of the hall was just dirt, and so we took a long piece of wood and used it as a bench during services. holding a retreat in such a place served a problem, as there was nowhere to sleep or a place to prepare the food. Nonetheless, there was nothing I could prepare. One student was also concerned, and so she decided to bring the covering her mother used to sell her merchandise at the market. However, it was all worn out and had patches here and there that it made the place look like a beggar's house, so we couldn't use it. 

    Yet, we still had the retreat. When I think of it now, I can't remember who cooked, and how we ate, but during the four days of the retreat, our hearts were filled with God's grace. After the retreat, we went to the pond and had the baptism ceremony. The brothers and sisters praised and testified about the Lord who had saved them. Even my brother who had traveled from our hometown was filled with the Spirit. During the retreat, my brother often came to me, and happily talked of his heart. 

    Before enrolling in the army, I left Jangpali and visited a few places, and also stayed three days in my hometown. It was the rice-harvesting season when I went, and so on the morning of the second day, my brother took me with him to harvest the rice. With a small pot of water and a couple of sweet potatoes, we set out to the valley, carrying our sickle and grinding stone, and harvested the rice all day. However, that day we did not collect much rice, but spent the time sharing spiritual fellowship. My brother shared his testimony with me of the many things that had happened after he had received salvation. 

    "For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lust, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:"(1 Peter 4:3) My brother had memorized this verse. 

    "How did God know and write about this heart that is the same as mine? I'm in such wonder that these words are the exact description of my heart. The time past is sufficed with the amount of sin and evil I have done." 

    My brother continued to give his testimony: "When I heard that you were ministering the Word in Hwangsan, I rode my bicycle there. As I went, I came to the Kamchun River. There was no bridge, so I lifted the bicycle onto my shoulder and crossed the river. Then I got back on the bicycle. I listened to the Word at Hwangsan, then returned home alone, late that night, and once again crossed the river while carrying the bike, then riding it the rest of the way. My heart was so happy and thankful. It felt as if I had a light on in my heart, making it bright. When I approached our village, people were gathered at the town's entrance with the lights on, drinking alcohol. I realized that they were friends I had drunk with not too long ago. When I saw those friends, I found myself thinking in my heart, 'I pity those people.' Ock-soo, did you have this heart when you received salvation? That's how I felt. How do you feel when you read the Bible? When I read the Bible I have hope and peace." 

    My brother had opened and shared his heart just as it was. I was able to see that in each corner of my brothers' heart, he had hope, true peace, faith, and freedom. I can never forget that time before the Lord. 

    While I Lived for the Gospel, Not Being Concerned About Myself 
    Our loving Lord, Jesus Christ, had loved a foolish person as I, that He had saved me. He has also looked over me and took care of everything of mine, while I lived for the gospel. Among the things that He has done was save my family. 

    My younger brother lived in Daegu, working at a bookstore, when he had taken a physical so he could enlist in the army. Yet, due to a bronchial inflammation he was unable to join the army. During those times, tuberculosis and bronchiectasis were scary diseases. Being disappointed, my brother quit everything and stayed at a small church my sister had built in Ahpgok Village, after I left for the army. As he stayed there, he went to the public health center and received shots and medicine, and went into the mountains to catch rabbits, pheasants, and snakes, to eat, fighting with his illness. While he stayed at the church, God had changed my brother's heart, leading that heart towards Jesus. 

    My second sister was most opposed to believing in Jesus. A month after my sister had gotten married, my brother-in-law had went off and enlisted in the army, leaving her alone with her in-laws. While living with her husband's family, she was worked harshly by her sister in law. The rice that the sister-in-law gave her wasn't much, so she was unable to eat properly. Feeling as if she would starve to death, she had fled from that house. Having left her in-laws, my sister had nowhere to go. So she went to Janpali Church where a different minister was instead of me. That night, after being given dinner, she heard the gospel and returned to the Lord. 
    My eldest sister had received salvation before, and so while I was in missionary school, she had worked with me in the gospel. God had even allowed the precious gospel to save my father, who was the last one remaining, before he passed away. So, apart from my mother, who had passed away when I was young, my whole family, without a single person left out, had received salvation. 

    Although I am clumsy and foolish, while I worked for the gospel in the Lord, with His great power, He had accomplished things I could never do. He opened my ways, opened the doors to witness the gospel, kept my health, looked after my family, and also gave me the grace of watching over my children. It isn't me, who is serving the Lord, but it is when I see the Lord serving me, I can not fully express in words the amazing grace he shows me. 

    These days, I'm so thankful that He has not only saved my immediate family, but that God has also led my relatives, one by one, into His salvation. When I had received salvation, I was the only one in my family who was saved. When my family and relatives gathered, I was singled out. My family could not understand the things I said, and the way we thought was different. But now I am surrounded by saved people. This is a true blessing. The salvation of my brothers' sons, my sister-in-laws, my cousins' sons, and others, who, one by one, returned to the Lord, is my joy and blessing. 

    If I were to look after myself and take care of myself, I may earn a lot of money and sit at a high position, but other aspects of my life would become weak, and I wouldn't be able to perfectly protect myself. However, while I live for the gospel, God loves me, and I realize how He looks after me; not only protecting me, but bringing hope and peace to my heart each day. 

    It's hard for me to understand how people can not serve God. I don't understand why they don't preach the gospel, and why they do not become pastors. Just as when a baseball player uses his bat well, he is able to gain all things, and just as when a singer sings well, all is given to him or her, if we only worship the Lord, He will help us with tens and thousands of things, as his care and blessings are upon us. I cannot express in words what a blessing it is to have become a servant of God. I give thanks unto the Lord.

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