With Parent’s Heart and Soldier’s Spirit
Park In-seob from Paju, Korea
I was born in a poor farmer’s family as the youngest of eight children. Since my childhood, I was always worried about what to do to live without hunger. After much consideration, I decided to be a career soldier. I had to go to the military anyway, so I wanted to be a noncommissioned officer just like my cousin working in the Special Forces. I thought I could settle down, while getting monthly salaries.
However, my cousin stopped me, saying that it would be too hard. So I gave up enlisting in the Special Forces. Instead, I applied for a noncommissioned officer in the army and finished the education without a problem. But guess what happened next. After I was commissioned as a staff sergeant, I was dispatched to the special forces unit among many units. The unit carried out similar missions to those of the Special Forces, so we went through physical training after meals again and again. We had to exceed our limit every day.
Whenever I think of 400 ㎞ [249 miles] of march, I still shudder. The training lasted for about three weeks; we climbed mountains by day and slept at night, hiding ourselves in the mountains. Repeating this schedule, we arrived at the assembly area which was about 400 kilometers away. That was just the beginning of the real march. We had to turn back, marching 400 kilometers again for five nights and six days—almost running in the mountain areas.
At dawn on the last day of the training, our families came out and were waiting for us at the entrance of the corps. Although my limbs felt heavy and I was really exhausted, I walked again and again. When I arrived at the corps, depending only on my willpower, my wife was holding a flower necklace in tears with my children.
‘Yes, I must bear up to make my wife not suffer hardship and to feed my children well!’
Suddenly, I felt something was touching deep in my heart and I choked up.
It was my family that enabled me to bear up despite such a hard life year by year. Sometimes, I thought I couldn’t do it anymore, but when I thought of my children growing quickly and my wife relying on me, I could not write the application form for discharge. Since I had responsibility to support my family stably, my wish to get out of the military and to experience a new world disappeared.
It’s been thirty years now. For those years which were never short, I passed through many dangerous moments, feeling the threat of life, and I sometimes had to live far away from my family as I was transferred to another unit. Though I tried to do my best in all things, when I looked back, I was lacking in many ways as a soldier and a father, regardless of my intent. So I cannot help but give all thanks to God Elohim for protecting my loving family and me even from when I didn’t know the truth up until now.
The person who attended the Church of God first was my sister-in-law. Though she told my wife about the Bible, my wife didn’t change her mind and kept herself away from her sister. One day, however, my wife changed her mind and began to attend the Church of God. Before, she tried to find the truth, studying Christianity and Buddhism, but she was disappointed at both and eventually forsook her faith. I wondered what made her religious again suddenly.
I never wanted to go to church again. I had attended a Protestant church until my school days. But since I observed conflicts and disputes among the believers and many selfish and unconscionable actions, I concluded that “God does not exist, and there is no church that believes in God properly.”
My wife never gave up and told me the words of the Bible. I said, “All churches are the same!” and snorted. We didn’t agree on the church for five years and I thought we must stop that. When she asked me to learn the Bible properly and judge, I threatened her, saying, “I myself will confirm it. If there is anything wrong with it, you can’t go there, either!” and visited the church.
I didn’t know the Bible but I really argued over many things, saying, “Where is it in the Bible?” or “Your Bible must be different.” Though I acted perverse and bigoted, the church members always answered me with a smile. The rationale for the answer was always the Bible. Though I tried to find any fault, I was speechless because they told me only through the Bible. After three months of the Bible study, I made a conclusion that “God exists. They are my Father and Mother. They dwell only in the Church of God.”
After becoming a child of God, I kept worship services regularly. As I had lived as a soldier for my whole life, as long as I received God, I couldn’t live a life of faith idly. Soldiers live and die in obedience to orders. What would be the reason that we, soldiers, break ice in a severe cold and jump into the water? For what would we walk for many days with so heavy military gears on? It is because of the order. Even in the situation where bullets are raining from all over, when we’re given the order to “advance,” we must run forward no matter what.
That was why I started to preach the word of God. I didn’t know much about the words, but it didn’t make sense not to obey God’s command, “Preach the gospel in season and out of season.” I diligently preached the truth to my colleagues as much as I knew. To the soldiers who showed their interest, knowing that I go to church, I introduced our church and delivered the words of the Bible in my spare time after work.
Most of them lost their interest easily or didn’t accept the words sincerely. But as the Bible says, “My sheep listen to my voice,” God’s children paid attention to the words of God. Though I suggested that they come to our church and listen more in detail after my poor explanation, some of them willingly followed me to church. Once they come to Zion, many members who could add enough explanation to my poor one were waiting for them. Seeing the members deliver the truth in detail as they do to their own family, I could feel keenly that God is love and that we are the children of love. When we made efforts to save one more soul in one mind, God constantly allowed us to feel the joy of bearing fruits.
There was a noncommissioned officer who had often listened to my sermon preaching even before he was appointed. When he came to our unit as a trainee, he got to know about the Bible for the first time. When he was placed to our unit, he could learn more about the will of God and finally received the truth.
The brother must have had no spare time to get used to a new life and various regulations, but he kept the worship services regularly. Whenever I saw the brother come to Zion whether it was cold or hot and smile brightly, receiving warm love of the members, I too came to smile despite myself.
Come to think of it, I’ve come to laugh much while carrying out the mission of the gospel after receiving the truth. Before, I used to be tough in words and deeds not to lose by anybody else and had a hot temper. I didn’t know how bad and rough my character, words, and deeds were. After reflecting myself through the teachings of the Bible, I could realize my shameful self.
Regarding not only the words that I delivered but also my actions as parts of the gospel work, I strived to practice God’s examples and teachings such as love, humility, sacrifice, consideration, and perseverance. Meanwhile, my character became gentle as much as people around me could feel. While repeating the process of understanding each person who’s lived in different circumstances with different ways of thinking, in order to deliver the will of God, I got to fathom his mind and situation even a little bit. After my son enlisted in the military, subordinates and other soldiers looked different to me. Most of the officers commissioned now and the soldiers assigned to my unit are as young as my son. Since they all look adorable like my son, even though someone made a mistake, I could comfort him rather than rebuking. They’re doing well enough at the age when they’re so energetic that it could be hard for them to be bound to the unit.
I come to pay more attention to the soldiers who are having a hard time. It seems that they’ve lived a happy life with their parents, but unexpectedly many of them joined the army with heartbreaking stories. Some face difficulties, living a group life, away from their family for the first time. To such members I put more efforts into making known the truth. It’s because the military duty that would be just difficult could be once-in-a lifetime chance to find out the true meaning of life and a new hope.
I’ve become busier in the New Year. It’s because I’ve planned to refine my nature all the more to take part in the divine nature, and to deliver the words harder in the unit so that everyone around me can hear the word of God. I should no longer postpone it. Now, there are only a few years left until I retire. I am not as strong as before, and the work increases, so I often desire to retire quickly and rest. Probably because of this, Heavenly Father comes to mind more often these days. Father’s life for the gospel must’ve been a series of enduring, withstanding, and bearing up, which was full of sacrifice. But Father didn’t give up at all because He only cared about His children. Mother, too, is bearing indescribable sacrifice even until now because Her sons and daughters are Her everything in Her life.
As a child who received life through the boundless love and sacrifice of Father and Mother, and as a gospel soldier who absolutely obeys God’s commands, I will walk this path to the end. “Find all the lost souls!” This is a strict command of God the Commander and an earnest request of our Father and Mother who’ve lost Their children. I will never give up until we complete this request and declare the news of victory of the gospel.