PASTOR OCK SOO PARK

  • 3. I Came to Show You That God Lives / Registering as a Religious Group in Kenya

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    I Came to Show You That God Lives

     

    A missionary is one who leaves their birthplace to preach the gospel of Jesus Christ to foreign nations. Many pray and prepare to become missionaries, but when in fact they do become missionaries and live in a new country, they experience many hardships they never dreamed would occur when living in their native country. Climate, food, culture, and language are just some of the things that bring much concern to the missionaries. Another great concern lies in acquiring a visa. Being a foreigner, a missionary has to receive a visa to sojourn in that country, but there are many obstacles that are confronted in obtaining a visa. God has enabled our missionaries to gain visas in South America, Africa, Southeast Asia, Europe and many other places, making it possible for them to preach the gospel with power. But in such countries as Vietnam and China, where missionaries are rejected, they spend an unbelievable amount of time praying for visas.

     

    Even when we sent missionaries to Kenya, Africa, we were confronted with the difficulties of obtaining visas. In Kenya, if a church or mission with more than ten people that gather for service is not legally registered with the government, the gathering Kenyans will be arrested, and the foreigners deported. On top of all this, the Kenyan government rarely allows the registration of foreign religious groups, it is only offered to the churches of their own country. Therefore, in order for the missionaries to preach the gospel and to establish a mission in Kenya, they had to belong to the registered Kenya churches. As a result, a house, car, or land can't be purchased with the mission title, but has to be bought in the name of the Kenyan church. After awhile, if the pastor of a Kenyan church one day says, "This person isn't a minister of our church," then the missionary is seized by the police and exiled. I witnessed many missionaries build hospitals and schools, just to be deported in the end.

     

    When our mission sent missionaries Jong-Duk Kim and Jong-Soo Yoon to Kenya in '94, sisters Detho and Dorothy, who we met during the Korean Expo in Daejon, introduced them to the pastor of their previous church. The missionaries appertained themselves with the church and received their visas, allowing them to preach the gospel.

     

    But when in '95 I traveled to Kenya for the second time, I experienced difficulties concerning our missionaries’ visas. Hearing that Pastor Park of the Good News Mission had arrived, Bishop Gitonga, the highest pastor of the church our missionaries belonged to, asked to meet me. I had met many pastors in Kenya, and I found that whenever they met missionaries, they would always stretch forth their hands in request for money.

     

    Therefore, I was sure that if I met with pastor Gitonga, he would also ask for money. It troubled me to think, "Should I give him the money so the two missionaries can obtain visas without trouble?" If I weren't to give in, they wouldn't allow the missionaries to be a part of their church. It was burdensome to think that as a result of me not providing funds, our missionaries wouldn't be able to attain visas and would immediately be deported. However, as a servant of God, I couldn't compromise the situation with money, making my heart all the heavier. I promised to meet the pastor on Monday, August 21st. Early that morning I couldn't sleep, so I went before God in sincere prayer. "God, all the other missionaries offer the money to acquire visas; do you wish for me to do so as well? When pastor Gitonga asks for money and I refuse, God, will you really exile missionaries Jong-Duk Kim and Jong-Soo Yoon?"

     

    As I sincerely prayed, God surprisingly gave me faith and a great peace. 'It isn't by way of man that missionaries Jong-Duk Kim and Jong-Soo Yoon have gone to Kenya. God had sent them. And if it was God who sent them, then He'll fulfill His will through our missionaries. They can't be deported by man.' Pastor Obonyong came to me in the morning. Missionaries Jong-Duk Kim, Dong-Soo Shim and I rode in his car and drove to Pastor Gitonga's office. He awaited our arrival with many other pastors. After the exchange of greetings, Pastor Gitonga began to speak. "I have heard that Pastor Park is a commendable pastor in God's service. I, too, once went to Korea and held a conference at a Full Gospel Church. Missionaries Jong-Duk Kim and Jong-Soo Yoon are respectable people as well."

     

    After praising our missionaries, Pastor Gitonga said, "We are now constructing a church, and are in need of $300,000 dollars. Pastor Park, we would appreciate it if, while praying, you can find it in your heart to help us out. We are also starting to witness to the needy and will need $150,000 dollars. Pastor Park, help us in that respect as well." I was shocked. Although I anticipated that they would ask for money, I didn't expect them to ask for such a large sum. 'They are in need of $300,000 to build a church. Just how much are they asking of me?' It didn't seem as if $10,000 or $20,000 would suffice. Even before I had arrived there, I didn't want to settle God's work with human methods. I didn't have the slightest heart to solve my problems through dealings of money. Having received the faith that if I weren't to comply with their requests that God will not deport the missionaries, I was able to boldly respond, claiming: "American missionaries have come and destroyed Africa. They came to Africa and spread their wealth and riches, failing to teach the true Word of God. It seems that when Africans see missionaries, they are equated to money."

     

    I explained to them how, when I was being trained in missionary school, the American missionary who trained us was different from other missionaries in that he taught us true faith and to acquire goods through prayer. For an hour I was able to quietly testify before the many pastors about how God had helped me. I testified of how He led us and answered our prayers in providing for us. Lastly, I concluded sincerely saying, "If you want to receive God's blessing, believe in Him. I came to this land of Kenya to show you that God is alive. With this faith and the opportunity to listen to what I have to preach, you, too, will be blessed in learning this faith." As I concluded, all the pastors nodded their heads saying, "Pastor Park, you're truly an admirable servant of God." We then separated with handshakes.

     

     

    Registering as a Religious Group in Kenya

     

    After a couple of days had passed, I visited Pastor Gitonga's church. I was scheduled to hold a conference for a few days, by Pastor Gitonga's invitation. However, upon my arrival, no one was to be found at the church. This was odd, so I went and asked a secretary, who just cocked his head bewildered. He called the associate pastor and handed me the phone. The associate pastor exclaimed, "Pastor Park, was today the day of the conference? I'm so sorry. I didn't know. I thought it was next week." I figured their intentions. What they really meant was, 'You didn't even offer money; do you really expect to have a conference?' When foreign missionaries arrive at Kenya and present money, the Kenyan church provides them with the opportunity to preach to a gathering of thousands of Kenyans. The missionaries usually take this occasion to take pictures that are used for advertising in their own countries. I didn't know then, but the reason why they asked me to hold a conference was for that publicity.

     

    Without a word I left, and instead went to the Migori jungle to preach the gospel. A few days ago, someone had come to us and asked us to hold a conference in Migori, allowing us to immediately go and preach the gospel. We gathered the natives of the jungle to a large field and preached the Word till nearly midnight, holding service beneath the starry sky. They all listened to the Word as quiet as mice. According to our schedule, we had to leave for Nairobi at dawn, and so we woke up at 4:00 am the next day, and without even bidding them farewell, we drove back to Nairobi. However, the Migorians who listened to the Word that night gathered the next morning and decided, "Let's hear more of the Word. Let's invite them for a conference." So they notified our church in Nairobi.

     

    As I arrived at Nairobi, something remarkable happened. A person named Mugabana was waiting for me. He voluntarily came forth and said, "Pastor Park, I had read the book 'Only by Jesus' Works.' You truly are a man of God. I am the head of the Office of Religion Registry. I'm willing to register the Good News Mission." He arrived with all the paperwork prepared, and just requested my signature. After I signed the papers, he left. After our Kenyan itinerary was completed, according to my promise with Brother Sam, I departed for Ghana. That same day, after driving me to the airport, missionaries Jong-Duk Kim and Jong-Soo Yoon immediately went to hold a conference in Migori.

     

    That was also the day Pastor Gitonga reported to the police that missionaries Jong-Duk Kim and Jong-Soo Yoon were no longer a part of their church. The police came looking for our missionaries to deport them. But because our missionaries were in the jungle holding a conference, the police couldn't help but to jail a Kenyan brother. Brother David was a grandson to the head of the Religion Registry Office, Mugabana. Hearing that David was jailed, Mugabana immediately processed our mission's application at his office, and received the documents to prove this. Since it is possible to preach with the proof of having applied for registration till the approval is received, Mugabana took this evidence to bail David out of jail. Even after missionaries Jong-Duk Kim and Jong-Soo Yoon completed the conference at Migori and returned to Nairobi, they weren’t deported because they had this proof.

     

    Knowing this, those around us, led by Pastor Gitonga, tried all that was in their power to prevent our missionaries from being registered. Through this we underwent many formalities and hardships, but that following year, on March of 1996, through God's grace, we were dramatically approved as a registered mission group. God, who had stirred the heart of the head of the Religion Registration Office, Mugabana, accomplished this nearly impossible act for foreigners to receive official registry. I was so grateful for Mugabana that I invited him to Korea. During his stay at our house for a month, I preached the gospel and we also shared many stories. We have no need to use human methods and ways because God lives and truly protects and helps His servants who preach the gospel. Not only in Kenya, but it was also difficult acquiring visas in countries such as Japan and America, but God worked uniquely during each situation, enabling us to obtain visas. When the missionaries preach the gospel to those of that country and they receive salvation, their hearts are in respect to ours. Civilized or uncivilized, after receiving salvation and Jesus Christ, their hearts become one with ours, and we become one family.

     

    Most people of Africa and South America do not trust the missionaries and attempt to extract some money out of them. But, as these people see the hardships and hard work of our missionaries and how God helps us, after receiving the gospel we preach, they take part in the gospel with hearts just as ours. Despite the differences in lives, culture and society, once they become born again, the only difference lies in the difference of the color of our skin. We truly become one in heart and brothers in Christ as a family, which doesn't feel the least bit strange. These works are truly not of man, but by the hand of God. No matter where in the world our missionaries may be, I thank God that as they eat, sleep, and abide with the people of their country, they become one in heart with them and preach the gospel, glorifying God. 

     

     

     

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