PASTOR OCK SOO PARK

  • 28. I Used To Be That Kind of Person In the Past

  • I Used To Be That Kind of Person In the Past 
    After receiving salvation in 1962, till 1965, for three years, while remaining in this born again church, God had blessed my heart. Before receiving salvation, I had smoked, drank, and did bad things with my country friends. I had yearned for some change in my life. However, although I tried really hard not to sin, I did not change at all. Nevertheless, God had allowed such a person as I to be born again, and allowed me to go to missionary school and stay at Ahpgok Village and Jangpali. For three years, He made me into a person totally different from others in the world till I enlisted in the army. 

    There were many surprising things that happened when I went to the army. Among those is having found out that I was different from people in the world. The night I began my army life, I was trying to go to sleep when a cuss word rang through my head. It was so strange. This was because swearing is all I heard that day. While in church, I had not realized how changed I had become, how I turned into a whole new person. Yet, as I entered the army and lived with the soldiers, I couldn't help but think that I am already different from them. They only thought of themselves and treasured their flesh so much. I realized, to them the joys of the flesh were everything. Upon seeing this, I was so surprised, because I too was just like them in the past, but I have changed into a different person. 

    Also, I had a hope in my heart which the other soldiers did not possess. Therefore, although there were difficult and hard times during my army life, I was truly thankful. Before going to the army I had starved a lot and had to sleep in an extremely cold room during the winters while staying at Ahpgok village and Jangpali. When I went to the army the training was difficult and troubling and it didn't fit my physique. Yet, I was thankful to be able to eat three little meals a day, and was very glad that I was able to sleep under blankets in a warm room, not knowing the cold. Above all, because God was with me, the life I led in the army was truly blessed and full of grace. That is why if someone were to now tell me to return to the army, I think I would without any hesitation. 


    The First Sunday At the Training Camp 
    I spent my first Sunday at the training camp. The training camp had a church. Soldiers in training were also able to attend church, so I had gone. The army chaplain had given a formal sermon and said comforting words for the soldiers who were training. Most of the soldiers shed tears during the sermons. Coming to the army, they had to shave their heads, and due to the hardships they underwent, their hearts were sad, lonely, afraid, and army life was difficult to adjust to. The chaplain didn't say a single thing about God or faith towards Jesus to these soldiers, but just spoke gentle words of comfort to them and ended the service. The other chaplains were the same. I felt pity while seeing this. 

    I strongly felt that, "It would be so precious if a born again servant, having the heart of Jesus and called by God were to stand before those soldiers shedding their tears and preach the gospel of the Lord; allowing them to meet Jesus. They would be able to walk with God in their lives if they were to meet Jesus while they are this empty and lonely. This is the best chance to introduce Jesus to them?" 


    Quickly Give Up 
    That Sunday evening, I went to the chapel. Luckily, the chaplain was not there. Two private soldiers were in the front, leading service insincerely and unprepared. The service continued with the singing of hymns, then the sermon followed. If the chaplain isn't present, the private is supposed to preach, but they were not prepared to deliver the sermon. One soldier came to the front, stood at the podium and said, "Is there anyone among you who was a pastor or minister before coming to the army? We would like for you to deliver the sermon." 

    I was so happy because I believed that God had given me this chance to preach the gospel before these many soldiers. I quickly raised my hand, afraid that someone else would go up. Although most of the soldiers there were in training, there were also officers, sergeants, and privates. I was a soldier in training without a single badge of rank upon my chest and with my hair all shaved. However, I went out to the podium wanting to preach the gospel. I began with testimonies of how God had helped me, and continued on preaching the gospel of how Jesus had loved us that he was nailed to the cross. I was so happy to see the people fall into the Word. 

    I went to church again the following Wednesday. The reason why I went to church was not to listen to the Word, but to preach it. Luckily, the chaplain wasn't there on Wednesday as well. During the 6 weeks of training at the camp, I went to all the scheduled services not missing a single one. I had never seen the chaplain both on Sunday evenings or on Wednesdays. At times, he wasn't to be seen on Sunday mornings as well. It was only about two or three officers and sergeants that were at the chapel, but when it came time to have service, he was lost as to what to do. While staying at the training camp, God had given me the chance to take charge of Wednesday nights and preach the Word. You do not understand how thankful I was when seeing the people who were listening to the Word change one by one. Also, as a few commissioners and private soldiers heard my sermons, their hearts changed and we became closer; they asked me what department I was in and began to take interest in me. After giving the sermon and returning to the back room, I thought, "Wow, God is leading me, giving me this chance to preach the gospel to the soldiers," and was very thankful before the Lord. 

    However, there weren't as many people as I expected that came to the church. This was because, although there were many who underwent difficulty, troubles, and pain during there training; they came in tears to the church looking for comfort and trying to grasp God, but the church could not do much for them. I was able to clearly see that holding service just became a formality for the chaplain, officers, and soldiers. The chaplain gave a twenty-minute sermon each Sunday, reading what he had prepared before hand, as if reading a book. 

    I was nobody. Yet God had given me the heart, the gospel, and testimonies of the heart, to share with them. I was very thankful that God had filled my heart with His promise, testimonies, and the gospel, for which I am able to preach the Word to them. 


    Minister, Although It Isn't Much, It Is All Done 
    One day, after training was over, I had gone to get my hair cut. The soldiers that worked at the barbershop were extremely irritated because they had to give haircuts to about two hundred soldiers at once. The soldier in charge of the barbershop would select soldiers in training, who were barbers in society, to give the soldiers haircuts. He didn't make them give nice, clean cuts, but allowed only one minute per a person for a haircut. 

    That day, without a thought, I was standing in line when the soldier in charge suddenly turned to me and called, "Ah, minister!" He had heard my sermons at the training camp. Among the many soldiers there, he sat me down and personally cut my hair. On top of that, others took 2-3 minutes per a haircut, but mine took twenty-minutes. To top it all off, after he was done, he said, "Minister, although it isn't much, it is all done." So at that base, I had the best haircut of all, and people were astonished when they saw my hair. 

    While preaching the gospel in the training camp, many soldiers remembered me and helped me in many ways. When I think of this, I realize that no matter where I go, it is a blessing to go with God. Although life at the training camp was tiring and difficult, I am thankful to the Lord whenever I think of the blessed time I spent because God was with me. Even though I were to return to such a place, I feel I can go without a burdened heart because I am grateful that I could preach the gospel.


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