PASTOR OCK SOO PARK

  • 13. Interaction with Other Missionaries / There isn't a Church in This Tow…

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    Interaction with Other Missionaries

     

    There were many humorous events that occurred during missionary school. My doubts of salvation had disappeared, and as I became more and more interested in the Word, I spent each day joyfully preaching and getting along with the other missionary school students.

     

    Missionary Dick had continued to interact with other missionaries who had come to Korea. Although they weren't of the same mission, nor were they connected by any other means, but those who Missionary Dick interacted with were all born-again Christians. The lives which the born-again missionaries had led were clearly distinguished from other missionaries. Non-born- again missionaries said they came to Korea to mission, when, in fact, they just thought of themselves, and happily lived their lives off the riches they had brought. However, the born-again missionaries spent more than they could afford to preach the gospel, and in turn led meager lives. They didn't just preach the word because they were obligated too to, but they assiduously tried to enable the people to realize the gospel and become born-again, which is another aspect that clearly set them apart from the non-born-again missionaries.

     

    Among the missionaries there was one by the name of 'Mecapi.' He was a missionary in Kuchang, Kyungnam, and a part of the 'Brothers' fellowship. He was helping out at the Kuchang High School while preaching the gospel, and often invited Missionary Dick.

     

    Once Missionary Mecapi invited Missionary Dick as a guest speaker for a retreat he was having at Wichun, which was a drive from Kuchang. So we, too, followed Missionary Dick to Wichun. It was the first time we had partaken in a retreat by another mission and had fellowship with the brothers and sisters there. The view at Susungdae was great, and so was the food; however, the thing that pleased us the most was to be able to have fellowship with these people we had met for the first time.

     

     

    There isn't a Church in This Town and That One

     

    On our way back from the retreat, we rode in the car the missionary drove. It took us four hours to get from Kuchang to Daegu, which would have only taken us one hour if we were traveling in present road conditions. We shared testimonies and sang hymns and had a pleasant drive. The road heading from Daegu to Kuchang consisted of many twists and turns. Through the car window we were able to see the beautiful scenery, mountains, and occasional towns we passed, when Missionary Dick, who was driving, commented.

     

    "That's a pretty big town, but I saw no church. I was searching and strangely enough I haven't seen a single church by a main road."

     

    He continued, "This town doesn't have a church as well and I don't see one in that town, either." He came to a place where he stopped the car. 'Let's go into that town and preach the gospel."

     

    We all got out of the car. We were numbered about ten brothers and sisters in all, dispersed throughout the town. That town was Apgokdong. We went from door-to-door with fliers, telling the town’s people to believe in Jesus. There wasn't a single believer in that town, so they all looked upon us in bewilderment. We invited the town's people and gathered before a big tree. We sang praises and gave testimonies. Then Missionary Dick preached the word while a brother translated. Rather than hearing the gospel, the people in that town were more interested in the foreigner. They had never seen a foreigner before. They laughed and exclaimed, "Hey, you're very tall. You're as tall as the tree. Hey, isn't he American?" they asked as they gathered one-by-one. We preached the gospel to them.

     

    Afterwards, while on our way back to Daegu, Missionary Dick once again exclaimed, "There wasn't a church in that last town, the one before it, as well as the town before that one." That's when I realized that Missionary Dick couldn't get over the idea that the towns lacked churches. Through that incident, Apgokdong was one town I'd never forget for the rest of my life. Even after completing the basic training in missionary school, we returned to Apgokdong.

     

     

    Guiding the Juniors and Boldly Preaching the Gospel

     

    Time passed and the next class of missionary students entered. I may have wandered much during the basic training, but by the time the next class entered missionary school I was educated in the Word and I had change in my life. This allowed me to boldly preach the gospel and lead the next class of missionary students.

     

    At that time, in front of the Daegu station, there was the Jung Ang movie theatre and below it was the American cultural office. Every Saturday we borrowed that office and held revivals. Each Saturday afternoon the brothers and sisters would gather and witness to the many people who passed in front of the Daegu station. And by that evening, they would invite the people that they had been witnessing to and we would hold a conference. Either Missionary Dick or another missionary would preach the word, while we sang hymns and shared our testimonies. We often went out and sang in front of the people and I accompanied the singing with my accordion.

     

     

    God Even Helps People Like Me

     

    But one day, the missionary suddenly turned to me and said, “Brother Park, I want you to give the sermon this coming Saturday.” I was stunned, “How can I speak before that large crowd?” I had never felt my heart pounding so much. I will never be able to forget that day. As I preached the word, I found myself so absorbed in the word, that I was shouting unconsciously. Surprisingly enough, even though it was I who was speaking, I thought the sermon had been delivered pretty well. As I stepped down after the sermon, the brothers and sisters approached me, commenting on how touching and full of grace the sermon had been. One person approached exclaiming, “You preached with such a passion!” You don't understand what strength those words brought me. “Wow, even a person such as I can deliver such a sermon.” But what was more fascinating was how that evening I was able to strongly sense the Holy Spirit guiding me in proclaiming the Word. I couldn't have given such a sermon under ordinary circumstances.

     

    “Oh, even I can preach the Word! God is helping even me! Even though I preach, it's possible for people to be touched by grace.”

     

    The hours in which I preached the word gave me great strength... From that day on, I often shared the Word during district Bible studies, or just ones held at home. As I prepared to give the sermons, God poured such grace that lied beyond description, each time. At some point during all this, I was able to feel myself becoming closer and closer to God.

     

     

    Lord, Where Shall I Go?

     

    Due to the next class that had entered into missionary school, we students who had finished the basic training were sent out to our own areas to witness. The other brothers and sisters were all prepared to go to their area of mission with happy hearts, already deciding where they wanted to go saying, "I'm going to go there..." but sadly enough, I had no decided place to go to preach the gospel. Churches had not invited me to come as a preacher, nor was there anybody who wanted me to come to their area to preach. So I really struggled, not knowing where to go.

     

    However, there was this one day when my heart was filled with God' grace. We usually held the baptism of the born-again brothers and sisters at the rivers or the ponds, and so that day we held the baptism at Soo-sung pond. As I saw the people getting their baptism, my heart was touched... “Those people had opposed and rejected the gospel without trying to understand, but now they have changed and are receiving this baptism.” That day my heart was filled by the grace of God.

     

     

    My Life is not Counted Dear to Myself

     

    That night, after I returned to missionary school and fell asleep, I woke up in the middle of the night. The mission school's rules were very strict in that once the lights have gone out for bed, no one is allowed to turn on the light. So, there was only one place where I could turn on the light, and that was the bathroom. My heart was very zealous and I was so anxious that I went to the foul-smelling bathroom with my Bible. As I was reading the book of Acts, there were some verses that fervently stirred my heart, “And now behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there: Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying, that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God." (Acts 20:22-24) Particularly, as I was reading the verse that said, “But none of these things move me, neither count my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God," the Holy Spirit started to work strongly in my heart. This story wasn't only of Paul, but it was mine as well.

     

     

    Lord, I Entrust My Whole Self in Your Hands

     

    'That's right, let's go preach the gospel!'

     

    I often thought about and kept Apgokdong in my heart, but I always hesitated to go there because I thought, “How am I going to live and eat there? There is no one who is saved; who will help me?” However, as the verse in Acts 22:24 entered my heart, I was determined.

     

    “Okay, I'm going to go to Apgokdong. If I starve to death preaching the gospel, then I'll die. If God lets me live, then I'll live. I'll sacrifice my life for the gospel; to just preach the gospel till I die!”

     

    Due to this determined heart for the gospel, I was able to decide to start my mission in Apgokdong. Till then it had been very difficult, fearful, and burdensome to go to Apgokdong, but that day my heart was filled with hope. I felt as if God was going to just carry me to Apgokdong, and without me realizing it, the faith that God will guard me filled my heart. What I was going to wear or eat in Apgokdong was no longer a problem. It was solely the hope of going to Apgokdong and preaching the gospel that filled my heart. I knelt down and began to pray.

     

    "Thank you, Lord; thank you. I'll go to Apgokdong. Lord, please lead me, for I lay everything in your hands. Please save the people in Apgokdong!" Starting from that moment, I became one who prayed for Apgokdong. Each time I prayed, it became the main topic of my prayers. 

     

     

     

     

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    Autobiography
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