• From the Missionary School to Apgok-dong


    After I was saved, I entered the missionary school and received training by the grace of God. Through the training, God humbled me. During the training, I enjoyed listening to sermons, but the problem was that no matter how hard I preached the gospel, no one was saved through me. In the morning, we had the Bible studies and in the afternoon, we witnessed the gospel in the city. When other brothers preached the gospel, many people were saved and gave testimonies, but such things never happened to me so I was troubled in my heart.

    In order to become a pastor, after being trained, I had to know very much about the Bible, experience God’s answers to my prayers, and give good sermons. But the most important thing of all was to have the gift of witnessing the gospel. I had to preach the gospel to the people who fell into deep sin so they could be born again after sins were washed away through the Words of God. But that didn’t happen to me so I was deeply troubled. Sometimes, with anxious heart, I detained a man and preached the Words from Genesis to Revelation but he did not receive the salvation.


    During Sunday services people would give this kind of testimony, “Brother so-and-so who’s in missionary school preached the gospel to me, and while I was listening to the Words, I realized that my sins were already washed away as white as snow,” or “One of the missionary school students taught me the Word of God and thanks to the Word of God my heart was changed.”


    Although lots of people gave testimonies, there was no one who said, “I received the salvation through Brother Ock Soo Park.”

    Once I met a young man who caused me to have an urge to “lead him to the salvation.” So I eagerly taught him the Word of God. I preached the Words for a few days concerning, “Why we are sinners and how our sins can be forgiven.” But he looked out with no interest in my preaching, or kept on looking at his watch and even dozed off at times. The more I preached the more strength I lost. I struggled with him a couple of days and lost all my strength. Finally I just had to let him go.


    But the next Sunday he gave his testimony during the service. I was very nervous and listened carefully. I thought to myself, “Maybe this man understood the Words that I have preached.” That man testified, “I couldn’t understand a bit what Brother Ock Soo Park was saying and I got a headache. But what Brother so-and-so explained to me was so easy to understand. I am very thankful for hearing and understanding so easily how my sins were washed away.” Good grief! How could someone trample my heart like this! I was hurt and my heart was broken. We finally finished our missionary training.


    After the training we had to go abroad as missionaries. However, we were told to start our ministry in Korea as practice before going overseas. The other brothers were wanted by different places, but no one wanted me. Nobody acknowledged me as a minister, and no one asked me, “Please come to our town or our church to give sermons.” I had to start out somewhere but I had no place to go. I can’t put in words how sad I was at that time. When somebody said to me, “I am going to this place. Brother Park, where are you going?” I felt he was trying to make me mad. The brothers were packing their bags, planning for their future, and also exchanging each other’s addresses. As for me uncertainty was ahead of me. I was looking up to God but felt that He wasn’t answering me. The only places I knew were Sunsan, my hometown, Daegu where I received missionary school training, and Apgok-dong, a mountain valley where I went on my missionary trip. So without a choice I decided to go to Apgok-dong.

    Nowadays, it only takes one hour by bus, but at that time it took four hours. It was a four-hour bus ride on the unpaved rattling road. The bus stopped at the entrance of town of Apgok-dong. As soon as I got off, the bus quickly took off and I felt so empty and lonely. At that time, lyrics of a song came to mind, “In this lonely mountain, where no one is looking for me, all I see is fallen leaves withered and piled up one by one without any words.” It was so similar to my life.


    Apgok-dong consisted of three villages. Each village was made up of 30 or 40 families. When you go during the day time, all the adults went out to their farms to work, and only children were left in the village. I can understand it now, but at the time I didn’t have the slightest idea why God was working this way. In order to use me, He first had to humble my heart.


    While you are driving a car, if there’s a sudden obstacle, you have to put your foot on the brake and turn the wheel. But, if the wheel doesn’t turn so you have to use all your strength to turn just a little bit, then how can you drive that car? In order to be used by God we have to be tender and soft-hearted. When we have stiff necks with our stubbornness and our ways, it is hard for God to use us. Although God keeps turning our hearts around, if we keep coming back to the same place, we will end up wasting our lives away wrestling with ourselves. That is why God empties and humbles the hearts of people whom He uses so that their stubbornness, their own efforts, or their abilities can’t get into their hearts.

    When we went through basic training in the military, after few hours of many difficult exercises, we soon ran out of all our energy. We sweated so much that whenever we got a chance, we drank from our canteen. I’m sure that if each of us had had 10 canteens, we would have emptied all of them. When we got to a point where our legs were all wobbly and out of strength, then we received the training of our course. During the course, if one has still any strength remaining, there’s more possibility of having an accident. When all of our own strength is gone, we have to overcome the course with endurance and then we can complete the basic training without an accident. When you want to have a spiritual life of following Christ Jesus, you must first have denial of yourself. It means getting rid of your own strength in you. When all of our strength is totally gone, then God can lead our lives. From the missionary school to Apgok-dong, God worked on humbling and emptying me.




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