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This Brother is Not an Elder

When I was ministering in Daegu, our church was in difficulty and we were poor. There was one time where an elder and his wife from a huge church in Daegu listened to the Gospel and received salvation. I would have Bible study at their house every Tuesday night, and they treated me cordially. When I went there, he and his wife would spread a table and get ready to learn about the Bible. They learned about the Word with a sincere heart. After a two hour long Bible study, they would lead me to another room full food that I had never seen before such as strawberries and bananas – foods that were hard to come by during those times. After eating, they would hand me two new 1,000 won bills saying, “Pastor, use this as your taxi fare.” At that time, 2,000 won lasted our family a week of living expenses.

One day, that brother began to attend our church. Not only was he an elder of a huge church, but he also held an important position in the army. After attending two of our services, he stood up after service and said that he had something to say. When I told him to go ahead, he said this in front of the congregation, “Have you ever seen a pastor like ours? How can the honorarium be 6,000 won a month? When I listen to pastor’s sermon, he testifies how he received rice and travel fare through prayer. How can this be? Why does the pastor have to pray for rice or travel fare? The pastor has to pray for us. We must make sure that the pastor doesn’t have to pray for rice or travel fare.”

Back then, pastors of huge churches in Daegu received 20,000 won per month, and I too was to receive that amount. Also, back then when refrigerators came out for the first time, most houses didn’t have one, but he bought a Samsung High Cold refrigera- tor for our home. My children would freeze sugar water and eat it every day. One day, this elder called me saying, “Let’s go out to the city together.” He wanted to go out to look for land to build our chapel. I wanted to build a new chapel, and he was a wealthy man who owned a lot of land in the Padong district. After showing me many areas of land, he asked, “Which one do you think is best?” When I said, “Over here,” he replied, “Then let’s build it here.” He then said to me, “Pastor, in my eyes, you’re incomparable to other pastors. So pastor, use me well. From now on, I’ll build chapels for you, build a parsonage for you, and buy a car for you. My wish is to make you the greatest pastor in this country.”

I thought, “Wow, God is really opening a path now!”

It was great up to that point, but he slowly began to act as an elder in the church. That made me feel uncomfortable, so one day, I quietly spoke to him, “Brother Lee, I have something to say to you today. Brother Lee, you are not an elder, you know that right?” He didn’t say anything.

“Becoming an elder without even receiving salvation is something to be embarrassed about. Brother Lee, from now on, be a true elder without any lacking based on the Bible. In order to be a true elder, you must throw away the false elder in your heart.” When I opened the Bible to speak to him about this, he said “Pastor Park, thank you. Is it easy to say these things to me? You’ve spoken these difficult words well for me.” With that, I returned home with a content heart. But once I got home, that brother’s wife called me saying, “Pastor, what should I do? My husband is making a fuss, saying, ‘Who does Pastor Park think he is to say things like that!’”

From what I saw, he wanted to make me a great pastor so he could become a great elder who would lead me. The problem is, if God establishes you, you become established. However, people try to establish themselves. Although I didn’t know much about the system of ‘elder politics,’ and it had entered our church. I could not accept this in my heart, so I fought with him almost every day. “Brother Lee, why are you being like this? This is what the Bible is saying.” He would then say, “Yes, Pastor, you’ve spoken truly difficult words for my sake. I will accept them as words of love.” Then he would say behind my back, “What does he think he knows? He didn’t even minister that long!”

Because I didn’t follow his thoughts, his heart grew further and further away. I decided against the big chapel, a parsonage, opportunities to study overseas, and a car. I even rejected the monthly 20,000 won honorarium. As a person, I need money and food to live, and it would be great to ride a good car, live in a good house, and be looked up to by others. However the God inside of me was not happy with that. Because the Lord within me was uncomfortable with such a life, I couldn’t let the person do what he wanted. ”

One time, I told the brother, “If I am truly the servant of God, you, brother, cannot win. So don’t try to win over me, and just listen to God’s Words. That’s the way to receive blessings from God.” Eventually, he couldn’t deny himself, and left the church. Out in the world, he passed away after living a life full of pain. His wife told me these words, and I could never forget what she said. “If only he had listened to you, he wouldn’t have died such a death. He couldn’t deny himself and he was being so stubborn…”

How comfortable it would be if God just allowed us to go with the flow of the world. If we side with the world, we wouldn’t be persecuted or cursed at. However, we are created by God to be unable to follow such comforts. We are newly created people who can only live when we have the faith to trust in God’s plans.

“For therein is the righteousness of God revealed from faith to faith: as it is written, The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17).

Thankfully, God did not allow man to be established within the church. God does not compromise with man. God does not allow man to be established within the church. This is how He established our church.

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