• 8. Leaving Students / The Missionary And His Family Who Starved With Us / Won…


    Leaving Students


    "Brother Park, what are you going to do?"

    "What are you talking about?"

    "Are you going to continue to train at this missionary school?"

    "Then what else am I going to do?"

    "Brother Park, think about it. Look over there at Missionary Dick York's sons. Look at the black rubber shoes they have on."


    When the brother I was training with had pointed this out, I didn't know what he was talking about. So he slowly explained.

    "Other missionary's children wear leather shoes, but look at how our missionary Dick's children wear the cheap black rubber shoes. Brother Park, have you ever seen missionary's children wear black rubber shoes?" he criticized.


    "Other missionaries eat well and drive there own cars, but why does our missionary Dick have to walk due to lack of transportation fare? Why does he only teach us to have faith amidst starvation?"


    The brother strewed before me the complaints he had about missionary school and finally decided,

    "I had been attending college, but I came to this missionary school believing that it was better than college. Yet I am still able to return and take up my studies again. I'm going to return home."

    Then he turned to me and asked,

    "Are you going to foolishly remain?"


    It was true that in missionary school I was often hungry, tired, and it was a very difficult place. However, my situation differed from that brother's. Because the house I had lived in and my life before was so frustrating and difficult, that I didn't have the heart to ever return to such a life. On the other hand, that brother's father possessed a large factory and they were pretty well off. Not only that, but the brother was fluent in English, Japanese, and other languages that Missionary Dick had his hopes in this brother becoming a great missionary. And so when he had told me that he was leaving, asking if I was going to foolishly remain, I was speechless.


    Suddenly he arose and went to his room and took out his blanket and laid it out on the floor. There he packed all his possessions one by one. Then in anger without even looking back he left. He had came to missionary school with thoughts of living a luxurious life, being able to eat and dress well like the American missionaries. Unable to stand the cold, hunger, and walking conditions of missionary school, he departed.


    Missionary Dick shed tears. He had put his hopes in this brother, but he left. I envied that brother. His family was well off, and he had a place to go, but there was no other place for me.


    Once there was a brother who was so famished that he couldn't get up from his bed unable to make it to class, but just ended up lying there. After class, the missionary went up to the brother and asked him how he was. He didn't say anything other than that he was hungry and wanted to go home. "I will go home. I will go home. I am hungry. I am hungry. Hungry!" was all he said. A few days later that brother had packed his stuff. In this fashion, one by one the brothers left missionary school. However, my past life was so sickening that I couldn't bear to return.


    The Missionary And His Family Who Starved With Us


    The school we trained in was a big Japanese style house. The storage room located behind the house was used as our eating area, and we fixed up the front hall and used it as our classroom. The house was separated in half. Missionary Dick and his family used half, and we students occupied the other side.


    The missionary schools ate separately at the eating area, but whenever we were about to eat, the missionary's sons would come in and joke around. The children's names were Nate and Markey, and they would follow us into our rooms to joke around when we collected our food. They didn't play around at any other time, but only when we were eating. We didn't understand why they did this.


    It was when we had starved for about two days that someone had brought us a bag of beans. We were so hungry and was about to boil it, when one of the brothers suggested, "Hey, why don't we give some to the missionary, he had often given us food to eat." So we gave half of our bag of beans to the missionary, and the rest we cooked and ate amongst ourselves.


    We didn't have anything to eat for lunch so we just sat and drank water. As we were drinking our water, missionary Dick York walked in and asked, "Don't you have anything to eat?" We just sat there without a word, it was obvious we didn't have anything to eat, or else we wouldn't have been sitting there just drinking water. Missionary Dick ran rapidly home and returned with a pot. We wondered what he had brought us and peaked inside the pot to find that it was beans. He had been famished this morning, not having any food to eat, when we happened to bring by the beans, which he boiled. However, when he saw us sitting there starved and so he had brought the beans without eating them.


    We were astonished. We thought that we were the only ones starving, and that the American missionaries and their families ate well. Nevertheless we came to realize that the missionary and his family starved with us.


    That day we realized why we hadn't smelled the food that Missionary Dick and his family cooked in the room next door. Before, even though we didn't smell food cooking, we never imagined that the missionary and his family was also without food. But after we became aware that the missionary and his children often starved, we became more repentant towards the missionary. They could have lived in a prosperous land in comfort, but they were starving for us.


    'Oh, the missionary had also been starving!' With this realization we understood why the children always came and joked around with us when we ate. It was one thing for the adults to starve, but to see the young children famished brought us such remorse. The children were American and so they normally didn't have much interest in us Koreans, but just played among themselves. Yet that six and seven year old child were so hungry and in hopes of getting something to eat, they acted in that manner. Their father was strict so they were unable to say, "I'm hungry. I want something to eat," but rather just played around with us when we ate. But we had no idea that this was what the children were thinking.


    When I think back at how much they must have wanted some rice, and how hungry they must have been, I feel hurt. Back then we just simply thought that American children wouldn't like what we ate, so we didn't offer a single spoonful of rice to them. When I think back now, there are many times I feel real bad for not giving them some rice. From then on, whenever we ate, although we really wanted to give Nate and Markey some food, often times there wasn't enough so we could not offer them any. The children rarely came by during our meal times from then on. Their father probably reprimanded them and so they couldn't come over even though they were starving.


    When I think back to these things, not only do I remember Christ who died on the cross for us, but also the many hardships missionary Dick has gone through for us, and I am real grateful. I will never be able to forget the time I spent in missionary school, which provided me training in faith. I'm so grateful for the missionary who had sacrificed his life to preach the Word to us, and I believe I can never erase him from my heart.


    Wonderful And Blissful Bible Study Sessions


    No matter what, the starving periods of our missionary school training were part of the process, however, it was extremely difficult to endure. The brothers left one by one, very exhausted and famished. Although the number of students continued to decrease, I couldn't return home, so I stayed at missionary school and continued the training.


    The best thing about missionary school was listening to the Words during morning sessions. The words of the missionary, who sat before us bible opened in front, were so sweet and profound. When I had attended a Presbyterian church in the past, the pastors talked only about our actions, 'how to love, how to be humble, how to be loyal to the Lord, how not to sin...' On the other hand, it startled us at times to hear the missionary talk of the world of the heart that flowed through the bible, allowing us to realize ourselves step by step.


    'Oh, the Bible isn't talking about Ananias and Saphiras, but the story signifies our hearts. And, that isn't the story of King Saul, but it portrays me...'


    Bible study was very enjoyable for us. Even though we had to listen to the sermon through a translator, because the missionary couldn't speak in Korean, each word he spoke entered our heart and we saw how it humbled our hearts and changed us. 'Wow, such Words were in the Bible. There was also such grace which God imparted upon us!' And so with this thought we became soaked into the Word; giving thanks unto the Lord.


    Although I Witness, My Heart Is Weary


    Monday's are our days off, yet the brothers each went their own ways to witness. That is when I went to the local hospital in Taegu to preach the gospel to the patients. The missionary school was located in Samduk village in east Taegu, while the hospital was located farthest west. The distance between the two locations was about twelve kilometres. Every Monday, I would walk that route to preach to the patients and I would walk back late that same day. Even though I walked to and fro the hospital starving all day, I went almost every Monday to that hospital to witness.


    That local hospital wasn't just any normal hospital, it was run by the city for those people who had nowhere else to go. Within the hospital I often went to the tuberculosis isolation room. Now the medicine has improved and so there aren't many who have tuberculosis, but back then it was a deadly illness. People were prohibited from entering the isolation room, and even the doctors and nurses could only enter momentarily clad in masks and gloves. Most of the patients in there couldn't move and just lay there waiting to die.


    I had shared the gospel with them not knowing how to actually tell it. I couldn't preach the gospel step by step, but just shared with them that 'Jesus had taken our sins,' and the words in John5:24, 'If you believe you will not be judged.' So no matter how diligently I preached the gospel, they didn't accept nor understand the Word. Therefore, although I walked such a great distance, starving and suffering all day, there weren't many who received salvation through me.


    Although I was hungry and tired, I went to the hospital with hope in the gospel, but when I would return, all I felt was exhaustion. As I saw that all they expected was for me to give them money or food, not making the slightest attempt to understand the Word, my heart became worn out. I began to lose the heart to witness. 


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