PASTOR OCK SOO PARK

  • 11. Which Path Do I Take? / The Word that Revives My Soul / God Leads Me i…

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    Which Path Do I Take?

     

    Most of the time, foreign missionaries lectured in the missionary school I was enrolled in, and they always spoke in English. Missionary Dick had preached the most. His words were alive, and in no way lacked in reviving my soul. As I listened to the words, time flew like an arrow, and it wasn't only once or twice that I had been drawn into the words. Missionary Dick York did everything centered on the Word; so during the training, everything from prayer to eating, all things were based and focused around the words in the Bible.

     

    Missionary Kays Glass, Missionary Derek Earl, Missionary Marlon Baker, Missionary Harry Wymun, and others all took turns preaching the Word. Most of the missionaries didn't know how to speak Korean so they lectured in English. We heard the sermons through translation by teacher Nam Sub Shin. While listening to the Word, I thought, "Hey, if I learn English here for a year, I'll be able to learn to speak English fluently." From that day on, carrying an English dictionary and reading the Bible in English, I poured my heart into learning English.

     

    As time passed, the English that I couldn't make out at first began to make sense word by word. I felt that my English skills were improving. I thought, "Wow, just a year of this and I'll be able to speak English fluently." Although I enjoyed listening to the missionary school lectures, the prospect of learning English was a great hope for me. Nevertheless, as time passed by, I continued to fight a battle in my heart. Whenever I tried to learn English while listening to the Word, all I heard was the English. Even when teacher Shin translated, what I'd do was think about the English I had heard, and as a result, I wouldn't know what the missionary had talked about.

     

    I came to realize that I was being lost in the English, not having heard a single word. One day, this problem became a huge concern for me. I began to dispute within my heart: "Although I am able to learn English and speak perfectly, what use would it be if I fail to receive those precious words into my heart? Should I give up English to learn the Word? But this great chance to learn English might never come again. If I don't learn English here, when am I ever going to be able to learn English again? If I'm going to preach the gospel, I'm going to need to learn English." Yet to my surprise, when I sat before Missionary York, who couldn't speak a single word of Korean, and tried to speak my broken English, he wasn't the least bit pleased, but was rather pleased when I spoke in Korean. Seeing this, I realized that, "The missionary wasn't happy with me trying to learn English, but rather preferred that I learn the Word of God."

     

    So one day I took the time to deeply think about it. "If I try, I may learn English, but to learn the scriptures while I'm training will allow me to live a more precious life than the ability to speak English." From that day on, I gave up on English and decided to listen to God's word. The thing I'm most grateful towards God for is, when I look back on the many decisions I had made after having received salvation, I can definitely see that God has propelled my heart to make those decisions, and it wasn't I who made those decisions.

     

    After being discharged from the army, God had guided me while I was in Kimchun, preaching the gospel, and especially when I went to Daegu. Just as it says in the Bible, "Although man plans their path, the one who guides their foot steps is Jehovah," the decisions that I had made, as time passed by, I discovered were not made by me. Before receiving salvation, I could not have made such decisions. I believe that I was able to make those decisions not with my own heart, but I believe it was possible by the heart that God gave me.

     

    For a couple of days, I took the time to deeply consider if I should choose to learn English or the words of the Bible. Then I thought, "So what if I don't know English. If I am in God's guidance and within His word, then there is no problem." From that point on, I decided to give up English and to listen to the word. When I look back after many years, I feel that I had made the right decision. Many years have passed and I still can't speak English. However, seeing how the words I heard in missionary school changed my life, I can't express in words how valuable that decision was.

     

    The Word that Revives My Soul

     

    I began to listen to the Bible study, having the heart to give up English and to learn the Word. Surprisingly enough, from that point on, I no longer heard the English that was spoken by the missionary. Rather, my heart fell into the Word. Before, when the missionary gave the sermon all I heard was the English, and I even thought about the English while Mr. Shin translated. But from that moment on, even when Mr. Shin translated, it was the words that filled my heart. I also found myself thinking of the word while the missionary started to speak again. In this way, the Word took its place in my heart.

     

    Just as it says in Psalms 19:7, "The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple." As God's words entered my heart, it revived my soul. Just as it says that the word makes those who are simple, wise, God allowed me, who was foolish and lacking in wisdom, to wisely make decisions in various circumstances. I was able to clearly recognize the wisdom that wasn't from me, but the wisdom that the God Who was in me provided.

     

    As the word entered my heart, it restored life unto my soul. In the past, I was led by my filthy, wicked, ambitions. However, my heart was gradually led by the word. The rules in missionary school were strict. We had to get up exactly on time and we turned off the lights and slept at the exact time.

     

    Once we got into bed, the lights couldn't be turned on. We were permitted to turn on only the bathroom lights. As I laid down at night, thinking of the word, my heart would become so zealous that I wouldn't be able to go to sleep. But due to the school rules, I couldn't turn on the lights. Each time I would fumble my way to the bathroom. Restrooms back then, unlike the indoor ones today, were outside with an offensive stench, but that wasn't a problem. Without any consideration as to how deep the night grew, my heart fell deeper and deeper into the Word as I sat in the bathroom reading. Whenever I saw myself, I would think, "I was never such a person. In fact, I never actually yearned after the Bible. How did I ever become such a person?" I began to fall into the Word, surprising even myself.

     

    God Leads Me in My Prayers

     

    While reading the Bible, not only did my heart fall into the Word, but also I possessed the strong urge to pray. The missionaries who taught us were truly people of prayer. These born-again missionaries wished to preach the gospel in Korea. They were upset to see that most of the churchgoers in Korea attended church just to attend, and that there did not exist a church to lead them to salvation. This is why the missionaries had gathered at Missionary Dae Yeok Won's living quarters in Daegu.

     

    There, they fasted for a week while praying to God, asking Him, "God, please have mercy upon Korea, and please allow workers of God to emerge in Korea." While fasting and praying during the week, they had decided to start a missionary school. Therefore, even afterwards, the missionaries took the time to gather for a day and prayed. Oftentimes, they prayed with us, too. Till then, I had never prayed for more than five minutes before. I had prayed briefly for about one to two minutes. So it bewildered me to think, "How can the missionaries pray for one to two hours at a time, all day?"

     

    But then one day, when everyone had gone out to witness and no one was around, I took that chance to stay home and pray for an hour or two. At that time, the house we were in was Japanese-style, and so in our room, there was something called an "Oshil." If you went into the Oshil and closed the doors, it was dark. That day was very cold, so with a blanket pulled over my head, I sincerely prayed before the Lord. After praying for a long while, I thought, "It's probably been two hours," and so I opened the doors of the Oshil and looked out, not even five minutes had passed! "No way! What happened?" I once again bent down and began to pray. I had planned on praying for about three hours, but there wasn't much to pray about, so I opened my eyes and looked out of the Oshil at the clock to find that about fifteen minutes had passed.

     

    I didn't understand how they could pray for two or three hours. Yet the surprising thing was that when I knelt and began to pray again, as I prayed a little bit, my heart began to indulge into the prayer. In the past, I had prayed to God, but this time it wasn't my prayer to God. I was aware that God led me to pray this prayer. "Hey! God is truly leading my prayer!" Thinking that much time had not passed by, I opened my eyes and looked at the clock to find that nearly two hours had gone by. From that moment on, each time I knelt down to pray, I came to feel that my heart was in touch with the God in me. Since God led my heart to pray, whether it was morning or evening, I was happy and filled with strength whenever I prayed. After praying to God about all my problems, I felt happier and lighter, believing that God had heard all my prayers.

     

    The Taste of the Bible and Prayer

     

    We lived in a single-level, large, Japanese-style house with many rooms. One side of the house was used as the living quarters for the missionaries and their families, and the other side consisted of a large room, which was used as the missionary students' room, as well as the lecture hall. In the center of the garden stood big Himalayan cedars. And beside them, there were rows of chrysanthemums. It was a pleasant garden where the maehwa flowers bloomed in the spring. When I got up in the mornings, I felt as if I had slept in the woods.

     

    Early at dawn, when everyone was still asleep, I would oftentimes quietly get up and go out into the garden and go through the Himalayan cedars and pray under the wall, kneeling. Every morning as I woke up and prayed by the garden wall, you won't believe how grateful and full of the Holy Spirit I was! During the short time I trained in the missionary school, God completely changed my entire life. I, who had no knowledge of the Bible, grew to know the taste of the Word, as well as that of prayer. Whenever problems arose, both great and small, I prayed to God and was often answered. I saw my faith growing before the Lord.

     

    In the past, God had seemed so far, but as He stayed close to me, I began to deem Him as my Lord who answers my prayers. When I was training in missionary school, the missionaries said, "Don't reveal to others what you need, but pray to God. God provides for our needs, so do not tell anyone what you need and just pray to Him. Don't make it known to others nor give them even a hint. If you become satisfied with God being the only one who knows, then He will help you. If we were to insinuate what we needed to a brother or a sister, it is because we have failed to believe that God will provide for us, and would rather depend on a brother. Then God will not answer our prayers."

     

    Today, after many years, the Word I've learned from Missionary Dick York in missionary school is still alive in my heart. Therefore, I never once asked of others when things were difficult, when I was hungry, or without bus fare. Each time I prayed to God. It wasn't just once or twice when things had been difficult, at times, things were so difficult that I didn't even have the money to afford a bus ride to attend a conference. However, after hearing that depending on people comes from the lack of faith in God, even though it meant not attending a conference, or having to starve, all I could do was depend on the Lord. Surprisingly enough, God didn't let me down. I was able to experience Him provide for all my needs.

     

    Throughout the years, much money was needed for both big and small events, bus fare, and just daily life. Yet, never once did I ask of others, or even hint of my needs, but rather prayed to the Lord. Every time, God has filled my needs in surprising ways. While I prayed to God, the heart that I never had before started to build up inside of me: "God is surely going to answer today's prayer. God is helping me. He is with me, protecting me." These hearts started to arise inside of me. When I entered missionary school, I was very filthy, evil, and a worthless person, but, as I trained in missionary school, my heart filled with His heart, and I was able to live my life with joy and hope in Him. Whenever I read the Bible, the living Word moved my heart little by little.

     

    Also, the Spirit of God led my heart to pray and provided me with strength and grace. While I stayed at missionary school, there was a place by the wall where I met God in prayer. At 5 o'clock, early in the morning, I would wake up and without others knowing, go there to pray. As I prayed, my voice grew louder and louder. There were times when I prayed loudly, and while I prayed, God filled my heart and multiplied the grace. In the past, I thought very vaguely about my prayers being answered, but my heart changed to realizing that "Oh, this is really from God; God has allowed this for me!" enabling me to be happy and grateful for my prayers being answered.

     

    The missionaries didn't only preach the Word to us, but they actually lived a life of prayer. They, too, prayed for all their needs and had them filled. Whenever we went on mission trips, they went, too, and if we went empty-handed, it was the same with them. When we ate, they ate, and when we starved, they starved. It touched my heart to see the missionaries who couldn't speak Korean preach God's gospel in English to people. I cannot find the words to express my gratitude for their efforts.

     

     

     

     

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