OUT OF DISCOURAGEMENT I WANTED TO DROWN MYSELF, BUT GOD GAVE ME HIS WORD
"If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord, So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. "(Rol4:8)
1.1 was a monk candidate
I was born in 1962 in the countryside as the second of three brothers and four sisters. There was a famous monk in our town and he often gathered children around himself and told us stories. He told me that I could become a great monk. So I decided to be a monk when I grew up. After finishing my second year in college, I went to the obligatory military service. But contrary to my hope of finishing the service with little suffering, I was assigned to the Marine Corps. During the time of my service, I despaired deeply at the hopelessness of the world and wanted to be a monk as soon as possible.
But God called such a hopeless sinner like me to be a campus shepherd. One day, when I was passing through the university's back door, I saw a poster with the title, "Young man! Have a great vision!" And while I was still trying to figure out what that was for, I was invited to a conference on the spot. Through the conference, I could receive one word of God from 1 Peter 1:3-4, "New Hope," which expelled all the darkness that had overshadowed my life. The word of God tasted sweet like honey and quenched my soul. God helped me to be born again by the word of God and raised my wretched life to lead a beautiful life as a campus shepherd. God also established my house church with the beautiful woman of God, Msn. Sarah Kim, who had been praying to be a missionary, and sent us to the Soviet Union as pioneering missionaries. Thank God who called a monk candidate to lead a blessed and beautiful life as a missionary.
2. Missionary life in the ex-Soviet Union
When I arrived in Moscow in October 1990,1 didn't even know the Russian alphabet. So it did not make sense that I had to deliver a message, study the Bible 1:1, and write a Ph.D. paper in Russian. However, through prayer, I held on to Hebrew 11:29, "By faith the people passed through the Red Sea as on dry land," and went to the admissions office at Moscow University. I asked them to arrange an appointment with the most famous professor in the field. Then they thought I was also an excellent student and introduced me to professor Tung-kin who was considered the father of international law in the Soviet Union. I was afraid that my true ability and poor qualification might be revealed. However, I held on to the key verse again and thought. "Have I ever been able to live by my own ability? No! So I can only live by faith!" With this simple faith, I explained why I came to the Soviet Union and why I had to be his student. Then the old professor looked at me for a while silently and said, "I am glad to meet a Korean. I was an ambassador to North Korea in the 1950s. I will accept you; just make sure you work hard." God blessed my simple faith and led me to pass the Red Sea as on dry land. God also blessed me to speak fluent Russian and to finish my Ph.D. in international law. Thank God who gave us victory when we held on to the word of God and challenged the situation by simple faith.
In the beginning, my wife Msn. Sarah Kim remained in Korea working as a teacher and supported my ministry financially. At that time, I was a student missionary in the Soviet Union. When the Kiev pioneering ministry began, Msn. Sarah came to the mission field. We had to pray for self support as lay missionaries. I went to the Daewoo branch office that had just opened and asked by faith. "Please hire me. I can guarantee that I can work harder than I get paid." The manager's heart was moved by my bold request and he served me well with a big lunch. Then he submitted my resume to the headquarters office. However, all of the hiring managers in the headquarters, including the director, rejected it saying, "We cannot hire one who is working as a missionary." However, the manager ignored even his supervisor's opinion and went directly to the CEO and received the permission to hire me. Later I asked the manager, "Why did you try so hard to hire me, knowing the possible risks?" He answered, "I do not know why I pushed myself so hard at that time. But I felt I needed to do something good when I thought of your beautiful life."
I was moved by this and worked very hard to be a good worker for the company. Later, I got a new job at Samsung. But as time went on, I realized that working in a big corporate company required too much time and energy, and was not suitable for a UBF pioneering director like me. Particularly, since I had to go on business trips and take care of those who came on business trips too often, it was too difficult for me to focus on preparing messages and discipleship ministry. One day, my wife got so upset at the
situation, she did not open the door when I came back from work late at night. So I decided to focus on the pioneering ministry and quit the job.
After quitting the job, God trained us to depend on God only in practical matters. Also, the discipleship ministry made a big progress. I became free of money matters and could seek God's kingdom and his righteousness first with all my heart. Then another famous Korean company offered me a business deal. They asked me to be an agent for their company that provided materials for plastic products to Ukraine. I did not have to put down any money to start the business. Moreover, I needed to work only two to four hours a day and still the business was very stable and successful. Through this business, I could focus on serving the work of God while supporting the family financially as a self-supporting lay missionary. When I gave my heart to serving God and making disciples over money matters, God opened the best way for me to serve God's work freely as a self-supporting lay missionary. I thank God who provided everything I needed when I put God's mission first in my life, even though there was nothing I could depend on humanly.
3. Discipleship ministry and vision
When we came to Kiev, several things amazed us. The most amazing thing was that Kiev students loved to sleep. During the holidays, dormitories looked like caves where polar bears were hibernating. We had Sunday worship service at eleven o'clock. However, students did not come because they were sleeping. So we had to go and wake them up. We could not begin Sunday worship service on time. Therefore, we challenged students through early morning prayer with the motto, "Those who wake up early will be victorious in life." This early morning prayer meeting has been the most important key in our discipleship ministry over the last ten years. Many beautiful brothers and sisters woke up early in the morning, knelt before God, and cried out for world mission. Whenever I see them praying like this, I cannot but thank God with many tears for his merciful work in them.
I believe that all mission fields face many difficulties in order to raise disciples. We also have had many difficulties. From the beginning, we served God's flock with love and tears. But during the first three to four years, again and again, students came and went like the undulating waves. At that time, the Russian Federation collapsed and with it, the Ukrainian economy also collapsed. People could not even buy a piece of bread. Most Ukrainians also lived in constant fear because of the radioactive fallout from the explosion in the Chernobyl nuclear plant. More personally, my wife had three miscarriages over six years, multiple kidney infections, and several other medical problems requiring frequent hospitalizations.
These unbearably difficult situations compelled several coworkers to return to Korea. Only my family remained, and our family alone has served Ukraine ministry during the last seven years. Satan kept trying to accuse us of being a failure and tried to make us feel abandoned by people. Satan tempted us to give up the cross of mission. One day, I even thought about killing myself by jumping into the Denevro River. However, I could not do it because I was afraid that the news would report that a missionary had drowned. I was full of despair, at the lowest point both physically and spiritually. I could not but cry out, kneeling by the riverside, "If we live, we live to the Lord. If we die, we die to the Lord." Then my Lord came to me through his word from Isaiah 43:1-2, "But now this is what the Lord says-he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel, 'Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine…'" Jesus also said to me, "You give them something to eat." The word of God came into my heart and helped me to make a decision to live by faith. Then a shepherd's heart overflowed from within me. I could say to myself, "I should not think of what I do not have or what I cannot do. Rather, I must look for
what I have and what I can do. My five loaves and two fish look poor and useless if they are in my hands. But in God's hands, they can be used for his great purpose." Indeed, faith in offering five loaves and two fish to God gives life, creativity, and happiness. Since we discovered the faith of five loaves and two fish, we live happier than ever. When the cup of joy and gratitude overflowed, then our discipleship ministry also flourished. Now, by God's grace, there are seven shepherd house churches, and two additional international shepherd house churches. We have sent out four missionaries from Kiev. Sending missionaries from the Ukraine has an important meaning. Through sending missionaries, we can awaken the Russian Orthodox Church that has been sleeping for the last one thousand years. Now, the frozen Russian continent is being melted by the gospel of Jesus. Please pray for us. We are praying that we may send out one thousand lay missionaries by 2041.
I believe that beautiful blonde Ukraine shepherdesses can be used to evangelize the Muslim world by helping the Muslim women take off their veils and wiping their tears of sorrow. Then there will be a spiritual revival in the Muslim world. For this purpose, about thirty devoted shepherds are serving the gospel work with a willing and eager attitude that is ready to go to the Muslim world. They frequently shout, "Bible Ukraine, Muslim evangelism!" In Turkey, Msn. V.P. is securing a base for the conquering of the Muslim world with the attitude, "If we die, we die." I pray that God may bless our faith of five loaves and two fish and use Ukraine as the center for world mission and Islam evangelism like the Antioch church. I praise and thank God who has used such a terrible sinner like me as a lay missionary here in Ukraine.