• 27. Joining the Army

  • Joining the Army 
    I enrolled in the army on October 30, 1965. Before entering the army I left Jangpali, which I had grown fond of, and had a couple of days to freely rest. During that time, I spent some time with my older brother in our hometown, and also visited Missionary Marlon Baker in Taejon. 

    Missionary Marlon Baker had always been fond of me and I always received the warmest affection from him and his wife. Missionary Baker was a missionary from the "Christian in Action" mission. While I stayed in missionary school, the Missionary and his wife had provided me with much strength even though I lacked in many ways compared to the other missionary students, as they cared and inclined their hearts towards me. Missionary Marlon Baker had participated in the Korean War and had stepped on a mine causing him to sustain injuries all over his body. One of his legs was nearly severed, but through God's power he was able to miraculously revive and live a normal life. Afterwards, he returned to the United States, and after being treated, returned to Korea as a missionary, showing how much he loved the Korean people. 

    Missionary Baker earnestly requested me to reside at his home in Taejon for two or three days upon hearing that I was joining the army. Therefore I stayed a few days at Missionary Baker's house, which was located in Hongdo, Taejon, and spent the time praying and having fellowship. In order to make me happy, Missionary Baker had poured his whole heart into treating me to good foods, having fellowship, and allowing me to hear many words. 

    One day, Missionary Baker had taken me out to eat. We went out and were walking along the street when we encountered a chaplain. He was the chaplain of a supply trains school where Missionary Baker had often gone and preached at, so they knew each other well. The Missionary greeted the chaplain and then introduced me to him. Without a thought I had asked the chaplain to join us for a meal. So, as the chaplain asked me various questions, the three of us went and ate at a restaurant. I had told him that, ' I will soon be enlisted in the army and my main specialty is impedimenta.' He was glad to hear this and told me that, 'after finishing training if you just make it to the supply trains school, it would be great if you could work with me for three years at the commissariat at the school.' I was so happy to hear this. The thought that, 'Wow, God truly loves me that as I stay at the quartermasters school He wants me to do the works of the gospel,' gave me joy. 

    Before leaving for training, I shared a testimony before the brothers and sisters of the Daegu church. 'God has helped me in allowing me to complete my army life at the supply trains school.' However, as the service ended, one sister quietly approached me and said, 

    "Brother Park, I am unable to say amen to your testimony." 

    "Why is that?" 

    "Although I don't know much about the army, how are you going to go to the supply trains school after your training?" 

    I had not thought of it before, but as I heard what the sister said I was shocked. I could not go to the supply trains school just because I wished to. I had thought that I would be able to go to the school, and even though I was unable to go, I would get in even if it cost me financially. The sister had said that 'I can not get myself to say amen in regards to you, brother Park, going to the supply trains school. I don't believe that is God's will.' When I heard this, I too began to think, 'that's true,' and couldn't help but to agree with what she said. 

    Having to take money when enlisting became a burden. When I had gone around bidding the adults farewell, the small amount of money they gave me, when all put together, was quite an amount. I decided not to take that money, so I spent it before enrolling with only ten cents left. 

    On the day I enrolled in the army we had to gather at the Daegu training base by 12 o'clock in the afternoon. That day I had gathered with the missionaries to have fellowship and to pray, so I was a bit late. Missionary Gee-soo Gill drove me to the training base in his car. As soon as I drove up to the training camp and got out of the car, the people who were gathered there all turned to look at me. So although I was a bit late, I was able to slip into the ranks and begin my army life. 

    "Nothing Prevents Me From Going to Where God Has Decided." 
    That evening, as the day's agenda came to an end, I was about to go to bed when a private called me to him. "Didn't you arrive here in a car this afternoon?" he asked. There were very few who drove cars back then, so having a car was a big deal. The private had attentively watched me ride in the car and so perceived that I was the son of a very rich family. 

    "Hey you, army life will be real difficult from now, but after training is over, I'll send you to the home front," he suggested. Without a thought I just thanked him, when he continued saying, "I'll send you to the rear service if you pay me seven dollars." Of course I only had ten cents, so I told him I had no money. He repeated and explained saying, "If you go to the front lines army life is difficult, tiring, and such an agony," and told me to just pay five dollars if I didn't have seven. All I could say was that I had no money. He then continued, "if you go to the front lines, you will not be able to see a single familiar face till you are discharged from military service. It is difficult, hard work, and very cold." 

    Then he added, "I like you, so just pay me three dollars, and I'll send you to a good base in the rear services." But since I kept replying that I had no money, he asked, "So then how much do you have?" When I had told him that all I had was ten cents, he fell into a rage. Even poor people during those times brought more than ten dollars to the army, and I was saying that all I had was just enough change to stamp a seal. Therefore, it was understandable that he became angry. He said, "You! It seems like you have good connections, but after your training, the one who dispatches you is me. No matter how good your connections may be, I'm going to send you to the most front lines, you hear! I'm going to send you to Kangwondo!" as he motioned me to leave. 

    There were many others who he called. There were those who gave him seven dollars, six dollars, five dollars, and many others; to assure that they would be sent to the rear lines of service. When I first enlisted I had wanted to go to the supply base school, but I knew that wasn't what God was pleased in. Also, God had given me the faith, allowing me to have a peaceful heart. 

    'Till now, I had continued to work for the gospel. If God is the one who sent me to the army, then He surely has already decided how my army life will be. It is not because I spend money that I am able to go where I want, and just because I didn't spend money that doesn't prevent me from going to where God has decided.'

    While I was training at the camp God was with me, working with power. I still cannot forget the time I spent training at the 50th division in Daegu. Among the many people in our battalion I was able to see God help, protect, and lead me. 

    Heaven and Earth Created In My Heart No Matter What Position I May Be In 

    After six weeks of training, it was the day they announced which base each of us was to be dispatched to. Among all those that gathered, the one who had called me the day we first entered training, came out and began reading the orders. I was the first to be called, "31032588 Ock-soo Park!" 

    "Yes!" I replied. As I stood up, he said, "Kangwon, Wonju communications training base!" Stressing the 'Kangwondo' part. 

    I went to the Wonju communications training camp and retrained. Although the communications training school he sent me to required a 16-week long grueling training and education, God was with me. Also, I served for three years at the communications training camp, where they had neither chaplain nor church. I began to lead service there. Each week I preached the gospel to hundreds of people who newly entered the base to be educated. When I think of how God had prepared the way for me to preach the gospel, I am so thankful. At times even though there are those who dislike me and want to send me off to an unpleasant place, but I deeply realized that I could not go to where God did not will. 

    During my three years in the army, God led me and was with me moment by moment, leading my heart through the amazing and deep emotions of the Holy Spirit. Not only was I able to live a glorious life before God, I was also able to preach the gospel before many soldiers. When I think of the precious works of those many soldiers receiving salvation, I truly thank Him. 

    When I look back at the three years spent in the army, it wasn't only time spent fulfilling my duties for national defense, but to me the army base was a mini mission place. I was able to preach the gospel to the many soldiers that passed through the training base and saw those people change after receiving salvation. When I think of how those who had passed through our base and received salvation had gone out and preached the gospel allowing many to receive salvation, I cannot express the gratitude I feel in words. 

    From October 30, 1965 till February 8, 1968 I was able to preach the gospel in our army base through the grace of God the Father. No matter where I go, God is with me, helping me, creating a heaven within my heart, and leading me with power allowing me to preach the gospel. I thank and glorify the Lord.

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