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First Fruitat Apkok-dong

In 1963, I was preaching the Gospel in a village called “Saeteo” in Apgok-dong. One day, early in the morning, a young man called me. “Minister, minister!” He had come to tell me that a young man from the village, who had worked as a driver in the army, had died in an accident and his body had arrived. According to the tradition of the village, a person who had died outside of the village could not be brought into the village, so the villagers had placed the body outside of the village. As they were discussing what to do with the body, someone mentioned, “There’s a minister living across the village, so let’s do it through the church.” So they came to ask me to lead the funeral. I was often starving during that time, so I was able to lead the funeral and eat good food.

Since then, I went to a village called “Apshil” every Thursday to preach the Word. Throughout the whole afternoon, I would visit houses to witness, and during dinner time, I would sit in the woods to take a rest and to pray. The village was so poor that the chief of the village told me that I would be kicked out of the village if I were to ask for even a spoonful of rice. Then, when dinner time came to an end, I would gather people around in a small room to preach the Word. Afterwards, I crossed over the mountains to go back home late at night. Back then, there were many wild animals in the mountains, which made traveling at night dangerous.

Soon, the amount of people who heard the Word in Apshil increased, so I moved from Saeteo to Apshil. I spent most of my mornings reading the Bible, but one day, someone came to visit the landlord. The countryside is so quiet that one could hear a chicken crowing or a dog barking. The landlord was smoking in her living room and a lady visited her, and the two began to talk.

“Hey, you came?”

“Yes, has someone moved into the downstairs room?”

“Yeah, a church minister.”

“A minister? When did he move in?”

The lady asked many things about me. I thought for sure that

she believed in Jesus. Otherwise, she would not be asking so many questions about a minister being here. So I grabbed my Bible and stepped out.

“Ma’am, do you believe in Jesus?”

“No, I don’t believe in Him.”

No matter how much she denied believing in Jesus, I opened the Bible and preached to her thinking, “This person is a believer.” She put her sales items aside and listened to the Word. She was poor in spirit. She listened to the Word for a few hours as if she was out of her senses with a blank look on her face. But she was able to receive the assurance of salvation.

While I was in Apgok-dong, I preached the Gospel and held Bible studies, but there was no one who opened their heart and received salvation. She was the first to be assured of salvation. As she received salvation, we became one hearted, and we were so joyful. Sister Eul-soon Sohn was so happy to have received salvation in the midst of her difficult life. I lived in a town where no one would open their hearts, no matter how diligently I would preach the Word. But I was so happy that sister Sohn opened her heart to accept the Gospel. Later on, she told me why she had said she did not believe in Jesus. She said, “I thought that if someone who believes in Jesus lives such a poor life as me, then it would get in the way of God’s glory. That’s why I purposely said that I didn’t believe in Him.” Afterwards, I would go to sister Sohn’s house often to preach the Word, and she too would visit me often to have Bible study. From time to time, she would tell me, “On the way back home late at night from Bible study, I met a fox, which chased me,” or “I saw a wolf on my way here, early this morning.” I prayed daily for that sister, and even while I read the Word, I would think to myself, “I should preach this Word to the sister.” Sister Sohn’s husband was visually impaired, and her house was very shabby. Although I would point out sin through the Word, he would just smile and say, “What kind of sin could I possibly have?” He was such a good guy humanistically, that I never saw him get angry. Thus, I could not preach the Gospel to him. But one day, when I visited him with my Bible, he crawled out in a rush, saying “Minister, you’ve come!” He was a person who would neither move nor blink when I would preach the Word, but his heart had completely changed.

Last night, a dike had collapsed due to heavy rain and water had begun to come into the room while sister Sohn was out working. Usually, when the sister went out to the countryside to trade, she would return within a week or ten days. No matter how loudly he yelled, nobody could hear him because his house was isolated from the rest of the town. Moving from one room to the next with his children in his arms, unable to see, he had thought, “I will be the death of my children,” and so he had prayed, saying “God, please help! God, please help!” However, he remembered what I said to him, “God does not listen to the prayers of sinners.” That made him regretful that whole night, thinking, “Why didn’t I tell the minister that I have no sin and receive salvation?” Fortunately, the rain had stopped, and the water had subsided the next day. That was when I visited him. He grabbed my hand, yelling “Minister!” That day, I preached the Gospel, and he received salvation. Later on, his sons and daughters all received salvation as well and were changed.

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