PASTOR OCK SOO PARK

  • Training of Faith through No-Money Trip

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    I had lived struggling, worrying whenever I faced difficulties because of lack of faith that God is together with me even after I received salvation. But the missionary who trained us in the missionary school taught a life of faith completely different from what I was accustomed to.

    He told us “Don’t bring money from home or try to earn money. Do not insinuate to the other people that you need money either.” And he told us “You should eat food, take the bus and buy notebooks to make notes.” The economy of Korea was not good then; it was the early 1960s and we expected that we should be able to eat chocolates, sandwiches or drink coffee as we are being trained by an American missionary who should have lots of money. But he never gave us anything and only told us to “Ask God for everything.” So we had to skip meals frequently.

     

    As a matter of fact, we were praying to God but we had a vague heart without having faith that God will really give everything we need. Even while we were praying, our heart was full of human thought “Won’t somebody send some money?” or “Won’t dad send some rice from the house?” Sometimes we got some food but were confused and not sure if really God heard and responded to our prayer or people just had sympathy on us.

     

    One day, the missionary told us “You are going on a no-money witnessing trip from next Monday. Pray and prepare for it during this week.” On the next Monday morning, the missionary and we sat together. Missionary said he was also going on a mission trip for the week and prepared a big bunch of Korean flyers. Before we depart, the missionary was putting his hand in his pocket and we thought “Ah he is going to give us money for the trip.” He took out some money and put it down before us. It was a small amount of money, less than 10 dollars. And he said “You do the same thing.” Not much money came out of the pocket of other missionary students but a significant amount of money came out of my partner who used to be a pastor of another church before he received salvation. How bitter was it to me! Missionary instructed one person to put all that money into the offering box and gave each team the destination they were being sent.

    “Come back after one week. I am not going with you so I may not know what you are doing. But God knows it all. Never beg or ask for help to the people and ask God only. If you are truly the servants of God, He will surely help you.”

    Everybody departed without money. The missionary also walked away holding the bag which contained flyers, without any money and without knowing the Korean language.

    Our team of three persons was supposed to go to Pohang. As we left Daegu and were approaching Yeongcheon, we felt hungry. Not only hunger, but also worries of “Where are we going to sleep?” oppressed us. We were visiting each house and witnessed the gospel but our heart was only seeking any possibility that somebody would offer us “May I get something for you to eat?” or “Why don’t you stay in my house for the night?” I don’t know if it was because we were witnessing the gospel with the heart “Lord, please let us stay in this house tonight,” people wouldn’t listen to us saying “OK, I understand. Please go!”

    Almost all the town went to sleep at nine thirty in the night. We felt a bit awkward being there and started to walk toward Pohang. It was near three o’clock in the morning; we were still walking, hungry, tired and feeling sleepy. I told the brother who used to be a pastor “Brother, let’s sleep somewhere under the bridge.” And he said “Brother Park, hold a little bit more. The Lord must have prepared something for us.” I could not go on anymore. As the frost started to cover the road and field after three in the morning, we were trembling in the freezing cold air. We saw a chapel alongside the road. I told him “Let’s go in there!” and pulled him.

    It was a small country church; we sat on the bench and slept bending over in the form of praying. Soon later, people gathered for early morning prayer service but I continued sleeping until they finished the service. I got up and went in when somebody woke me up to come for breakfast. Later, I learned that the minister of that church knew the brother who used to be a pastor.

    We left there after eating our belly full of food. But I didn’t feel that the Lord gave us breakfast that morning. When we were making our journey from Pohang to Ankang, there were people who were asking us to come eat and stay at their houses. Still I was thinking “It is because we look too poor.” I was not convinced that “God did it.”

     

    After we went through the entire journey, we were supposed to return to Daegu from Ankang but all the money we had was able to bring us only to Gyeongju. Having no other way, we bought tickets to Gyeongju and were witnessing the gospel in the train. As we got off the train at Gyeongju Station, somebody was knocking my back and wanted to talk to us.

     

    “Excuse me but I would like to buy lunch for you.”

     

    That was the moment that I finally felt that God was doing it indeed. I followed him with the heart of thanking God. He took us to a restaurant he knew but it was a holiday and that restaurant was not open. He brought us to another one which was also closed and every restaurant we went was closed that day.

     

    He looked at his watch and said, “I really wanted to treat you to lunch but all the restaurants are closed, except bars, nowhere is open. We cannot go to a bar and I ran out of time too. So I would like to give you the money instead. Please find lunch yourselves.” He gave us money and went away. We thanked him and counted the money. It was quite a tidy sum of money. We bought train tickets first. After buying the tickets to Daegu we bought one bowl of noodle topped with black bean sauce for each of us with the change. The amount of money was exact. It was God who allowed most of the restaurants in Gyeongju to be closed.

     

    After some time, the missionary sent us on another no-money trip. This time, with a different partner I went to Cheongdo and Miryang. Sometimes we skipped meals, sometimes we ate until we arrived in Cheongdo. The sun set on our way to return to Daegu from Cheongdo. We were still trapped in the thought “where to eat and sleep tonight” only. We were saying that the Lord prepares it all but we were worried unless we were able to see it with our eyes. Finding out that there was nobody who offered us boarding though we visited every single house along the way, we decided to walk and went on the asphalt-paved road from Cheongdo to Gyeongsan.

     

    After walking under the sky filled with twinkling stars for quite some time, we found an old man fallen asleep on the asphalt road. We woke him up and found out that he was drunk. We asked him where he lived and he said somewhere in Gyeongsan. We had about 12 more kilometers to walk to Gyeongsan and we were hungry and tired. Still we could not leave him on the road like that so we took him by putting our shoulders under his arms. After walking for a while, he said “My shoes!” then we found out that he lost his shoes. He should have told us immediately when his shoes fell off but he said it after some time. We had to suffer looking for his shoes in the dark night walking back the road we came. We eventually found his shoes and put it on his feet and began to walk again with him and he said “My shoes!” again after a while. We went almost mad that we wanted to leave him on the road, but we could not do it. We continued struggling to take him home. He started to become sober after we were about four kilometers away from Gyeongsan.

     

    We asked him “What happened to you?”

    He answered “I really don’t know. I just went to get some wood for fire and. . . .”

    “Is your home Gyeongsan indeed?”

    “Yes.”

     

    We entered Gyeongsan at about midnight. There was a street light at the entrance of the village and five to six young men were standing under it. As we approached, a young man came to us and greeted the old man.

    “Dad, you are coming back now!” and asked us “Excuse me sir, what happened to my father this evening?”

    “We don’t know either. We found him fallen on the road and carried him for about 12 kilometers.”

    “Thank you! Please come to my house.” he said.

     

    As they were cooking for us that late at night, we preached the gospel to the rest of the family members. While one person was preaching, the other was falling asleep and after a while we switched. About at one o’clock the dinner was ready. No later than we ate a tremendous amount of rice stacked in the bowls like a mountain above the rim of the bowls, the daughter-in-law of the old man guided us to a bed room. It seemed that the son and daughter-in-law gave us their room. I don’t know where they slept that night but we got sweet sleep in that warm room. The son bought train tickets for us to Daegu as he found out that we were going to that city in the morning.

     

    I felt that I was really foolish to think that I couldn’t trust God. I was a man without faith from the beginning. But as I spent time in Jesus, God led me and helped me in all matters that belong to me so I could not but trust him.

    (An excerpt from A Grain of Mustard Seed by Pastor Ock Soo Park)

     

     

     

     

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