The Government of Swaziland has invited Pastor Ocksoo Park.
The Minister of Youth of Swaziland, who had participated in the the World Camp last year in Korea, had sincerely asked of Pastor Ocksoo Park to visit Swaziland. The Minister of Youth returned to Swaziland and introduced Pastor Ocksoo Park to governors and many ministers. While looking for a time, in which Pastor Ocksoo Park could be invited, the government chose this time to invite Pastor Park.
Pastor Ocksoo Park, who had heard the news, suggested many works of the IYF to happen in Swaziland such as the Mind Lecture, Good News Corps, and Good News Medical Volunteers. First, he discussed the dispatchment of a missionary and the establishment of a church in Swaziland. Therefore, he decided to come to the country with missionary Taewook Kang, who would be dispatched to Swaziland.
Although there was a sister, named Jeongsook Choi, who received salvation a year ago and is now attending the church in Johannesburg through brother Gilwoong Park and sister Kyoungmi Yun, who live in Swazilland, in an airplane, there was no existing church in Swaziland.
The Minister of Youth (right) and the Minister of Youth and Education came out to greet Pastor Ocksoo Park at the airport.
Pastor Ocksoo Park landed in the Manzini Airport in Swaziland on the 20th of January at 8pm. At the airport, the Minister of Youth, the Minister of Education, two of the Department Secretaries and Directors were waiting for him with transport arranged by the government. The Minister of Youth, who had met Pastor Ocksoo Park for the first time after the World Camp in Korea, welcomed him with a hug and introduced him to the Minister of Education. As it is such an unusual thing that the Ministers of two Departments would come out to welcome guests, we could see with what kind of heart the government were inviting Pastor Ocksoo Park.
Putting the happiness to one side, as there was a schedule to have an official interview with the Prime Minister, with the eight cars that were prepared by the government; they headed for the Prime Minister’s office.
While being escorted by police, one hundred kilometres were covered in no time at all. The scenes of Swaziland that could be seen from the windshields was so beautiful it could have been called the ‘Switzerland of Africa’. The picture of the clouds with the mountains was so beautifully aligned; it was a scene which brought peace to the eyes and heart of the person looking. The scene was so wonderful you could feel that it was one of the few countries in Africa where you can travel around freely at night.
The country of Swaziland is about the size of the Gangwon Province in South Korea with a population of 1,100,000 people.
It is a country where it has almost no mineral resources and, mostly, the only income of the government is through the sugar plants’ exportation for Coca Cola (40% of Economy), and the tariff received from the Republic of South Africa (A non-tariff agreement where South Africa receive all the foreign goods and give it to Swaziland. This makes up another 40%).
It is also a country where many foreign tourists come to, through South Africa. As it is a country ruled over by a King within one tribe, it is a country that did not have to face war and live a peaceful life; the people are docile and pure.
Pastor Ocksoo Park having an official interview with the Prime Minister (Left) in the sitting room
In the Prime Minister’s sitting room, the broadcasting stations and newspapers’’ journalists had already arrived. The official interview was started by the Minister of Youth, with the Ministers from three Departments (Youth, Education and Health), government officials and the Prime Minister in the room. Firstly, the interview started with the prayer of the Minister of Education (The Minister of Education is also a pastor. Swaziland is a country with religious freedom but a country with many Christians). After the prayer, Hyemi Choi and Jinyong Park of the Gracias Choir stood up from their seats to sing.
Suddenly, the Prime Minister and other government officials were applauding and singing along. That was because they began to sing in the native language of Swaziland. Although it was the first meeting with the government and the atmosphere was tense, the music from the Gracias Choir members captured the mood of the sitting room and allowed everyone to opened their heart to one another. It seems as though the singing of the Gracias Choir has a hidden power of opening people’s hearts.
After the special song, the Minister of Youth introduced Pastor Ocksoo Park to the guests and he testified of his experience in Korea, last year. He introduced Pastor Ocksoo Park as the servant of God, using the examples of the rain not falling during the Opening Ceremony and only falling 30 minutes after the event due to the Pastor’s prayer and also of the way that he had received salvation while listening to the Word from him and becoming healed of his illness which he had been carrying for a long time.
The Prime Minister urged Pastor Ocksoo Park to do many works for the youth and people of Swaziland, after telling him that he knew about the great things he had done around the world.
Pastor Ocksoo Park said, “If the youth have a dream and hope for their future, they will not waste their lives and will gain the strength to overcome difficulties. John Choi, who had been dying after being stung by a scorpion, was able to recover after gaining faith through listening to the Word of God. I want to work so that the youth can live a life with hope. I am looking at what I should do for the students in Swaziland and I want to give a chance for the youth to come to Korea to be educated and do Medical Volunteering as well as many other things.”
Although all of the planned schedule was over, the Minister of Education suggested that they would listen to the song of the Gracias Choir one more time, so everyone was able to hear the lovely singing of the choir members once more.
Interview with the Minister of Education
After the interview with the Prime Minister, there was an interview with the Minister of Education.
The Minister of Education requested support such as teachers for IT, Maths and Sciences as well as asking for help on the topic of music schools and cultural events. More than anything else, Pastor Ocksoo Park requested to the Education Department for at least one session a year where the professors would receive Mind Lecture. He said that if the minds of the educators and the students are changed, Swaziland will become anew.
Right after the interview with the Minister of Education, we went straight to the wide fields in front of the palace where we were invited to attend a King’s Festival. This event that happens once a year, near the beginning of the year, is a huge festival where warriors show their loyalty and wish for the prosperity of their King. It has been a long standing tradition and on this day, the King makes the first speech of the year. As the festival went on for as long as 2 hours, you could feel that it was not the King who was leading this event, but rather the warriors who volunteer to follow the tradition and pronounce their allegiance to the King and magnifying the authority of the King.
Even the King dresses in the traditional clothing to be together in line with the warriors. Because it was an official event of the King, we could not have an individual interview. Although we felt a little bit sad that we could not have an interview with the king, we returned with the hope that we would be able to have interviews to preach the Gospel in the future, as he had already heard about us from his Ministers and Prime Minister several times. (Individual interviews with the king from foreign guests start after February) Afterwards during the first speech of the year, he had mentioned the visit of Pastor Ocksoo Park and expressed his thankfulness for his coming.
At the luncheon, which was organised by the Minister of Youth and the participant of the Inkuala Festival, the Gospel was preached to the Minister of Education.
At late noon, the Minister of Youth prepared a luncheon. Pastor Ocksoo Park used the time of the meal to preach the Gospel to the Minister of Education and the undersecretary, who were invited. At first, because he was a Pastor, he listened to the Word as if he was a scholar but he had still wanted to hear more of the Word.
At 6 in the evening, there was a ‘Special Mind Lecture with Pastor Ocksoo Park’, at the Swaziland National University, which was organised by the Department of Youth. The Minister of Education and Minister of Youth, Secretaries of each Department, government officials, many Bishops and Reverends and several student representatives of Swaziland all attended. The number came to about 350 people. The Minister of Education came early because he wanted to have individual fellowship with Pastor Ocksoo Park.
During the event, there was the Swaziland traditional performance, a video introducing the IYF, and modern dancing of the Righteous Stars and the refreshing singing of the Gracias Choir, which would have been a new experience to the students of Swaziland. Then, there was the Special Lecture from Pastor Ocksoo Park.
The students did not know how to accept the classical music that the Gracias Choir has presented them with, as it was all a little bit new to them. Although there were cultural differences, as they began to sing in the local language, the students began to react warmly.
Through the welcoming message, the Minister of Youth was once again able to testify about God, who he had experienced during the World Camp in Korea last year. He introduced Pastor Ocksoo Park as the servant and person of God. Through the lecture, Pastor Ocksoo Park spoke about the life of having the same heart and becoming one, using the example of John, who had stepped on a mine while participating in the Korean War. Especially, he mentioned that, once the hearts become one, they will live a happy and joyful life. He also added that spiritual life is becoming one with the heart of God.
After the event, there was a reception with the VIPs, where the Minister of Youth, Minister of Education, Secretaries of each department and Bishops from many churches participated. On the spot, there was a performance from the members of the Gracias Choir and the Minister of Education, Minister of Youth and all the Bishops and Reverends stood up, delighted and dancing. (They say that it is impossible to watch a live performance like this there)
Pastor Steven, who is one of the Bishops who represent Swaziland, came to the accommodation after all the events, wanting to listen to the Word; therefore, he returned late after having a fellowship of the Gospel.
Commemorative Photo with Brother Gilwoong Park (Far left) and Sister Kyoungmi Yun (Second from left)
There were so many things that had happened that day. It was a day where you could feel the desperate wanting heart of God towards Swaziland. In just one day, there was an interview with the Prime Minister, an interview with the Minister of Education, participation of an event by the invitation of the King and a lecture in front of 350 people, which consisted of government officials, Bishops and Pastors and student representatives.
The whole day was progress with the heart of the Director who had come to the World Camp with the Minister of Youth in Korea. Government transportation and police followed us everywhere. Even the Swaziland newspapers and broadcasting stations were already sending out coverage of the arrival of Pastor Ocksoo Park from the day before.
Swaziland, which used to be a colony of Great Britain, is not a land of great worth in terms of economy or business. However, it had become a country where God wants to pour his love and accomplish the work of the Gospel. Swaziland has become such a great land of blessing after it is now in the hands of God. Whatever path Swaziland takes, it will be the accomplishment of God. God is looking for workers who will combine their hearts with Swaziland. The Swaziland that is illustrated in the heart of God is now getting closer before our very eyes.