Sungmi Pahk's Testimony

In 1950, when the Korean War broke out, we were in North Korea. A government official had taken my father's car away from him and father knew that we need to flee from there to the south for freedom.

In early December, he went to the backyard of the house and he dug a hole in the ground to put the house treasure in it. When I saw my father doing that, I went into my room and packed my treasures, dolls, house playing little toy dishes, and so on... into a small suitcase. I gave it to my father. He knew that that had no value but he received it.

Soon after that, we left for the South. When we came to PyungYang (north Korea's capital city) to cross the river, all the bridges were broken down by air- raid bombing. We had to wade through the shallowest water, which was waist-deep to grownups. I was put on the top of the bedding which my father carried on an A frame on his back so I wouldn't get wet. I saw my mom and aunties crying when their clothing became like stiff boards because it was freezing cold.

We were 15 of us, Grandpa, Grandma, uncles, aunties, and cousins. I was the oldest child and had two younger brothers. My youngest brother was only a few-months-old baby. War is such a desperate time and our own lives were in grave danger. I saw quite a few abandoned babies. It wasn't easy to take my eyes off them. We had two babies in our group so that was enough struggle just to keep them. Sometimes we had to hide in a cave because at times like that, if a baby cries, that can endanger all of our lives.

When we came to a certain place, there were a few uniformed United Nations soldiers who kept pointing people to go in a certain direction. When our family came to them, they held my youngest uncle who was only 17 years old (high-school boy) and would not let him go. So my father and older uncle begged them and they finally reluctantly let him go with us. That incident gave a suspicious feeling about them to my family so we walked a short way from them and quickly turned toward the other direction and away from the crowd and went into a mountain area. Soon after that we heard terrible gunfire and heard later that most of them were killed and those soldiers were communists and disguised in United Nations uniform!

When we got to the 38th parallel line which is the division line between South and North Korea, all the women folks felt they could not go on because their feet were swollen and bleeding. They urged the men folks to go ahead of us because, when the communist soldiers come, they will kill the men first. So they left us and went on about 2.5 miles but, when they thought of us left behind with no man to help us, they could not take any more steps away from us so they quickly came back and found we were sitting at the same place. They urged us to go and threw away most of the goods and just carry the babies and jewels. We used the jewels to trade for food because money had become useless.

When we came further down, we saw a freight train going down south. It was packed full of people and a lot of people were on the top of the train so 15 of us went up to the roof top of the train and we held each others' arms so none of us would slip off the sloping roof top. It was a very, very slow trip because so many places on the rail were broken by bombing. We would travel a short distance and fix the rail so many times. It was a steam engine so, when we passed through tunnels, thick black smoke just about made us choke to death.

Grandma covered us with a quilt when we went through a tunnel and kept calling each one of her grandchildren's names. When she called one of my cousins' name who was 4 years-old, she didn't answer and she realized quickly that she was suffocating and she quickly gave her first aid (mouth to mouth resuscitation) and she revived. We were 3 days on the rooftop of this train and finally arrived in Pusan City, which is in the southeast corner of Korea. The whole of his trip took 35 days and all of us came safely.

After this we lived in Pusan and, deep in my heart, I felt that things of this world aren't trustworthy. Since my Great grandpa was a lay preacher in PyungYang, my Grandma was christened when she was a baby and she become very active in the religious world. But I could see that she wasn't satisfied. I tried to find truth but it was all the same, so I gave up searching.

When I was 21, I saw a newspaper advertisement for English gospel meetings. I took my younger brother to the meeting with me. It wasn't that I had any interest in religion but I wanted to listen to English from native speakers, so I went to the meeting. Bob Dye and Lyle Davidson were the workers, but I couldn't understand them.

The word 'Jesus' repeatedly came into my ear. I learnt English at school but the Korean teachers' pronunciation was so different. After the first Gospel meeting, when we came home, I looked up my English dictionary for 'Jesus.' So that was the first word I understood! As I kept listening to the messages of the Gospel from those brothers, I wondered why these two men left their good country and came to this poor war-torn country. By their sincere attitude, I could feel that they are telling us something very important for our lives. When this thought came to me, I forgot about English and wanted to find out the important meaning. Soon after that I had another chance to go up to Seoul and learnt about Gospel meetings in Seoul from Bob. I was very glad that that meeting was in Korean.

Don Garland and Marvin Pierce were having the meetings. In April 1964, as usual I went to the Gospel meeting and there was uncle Willie Jamieson, who had come for convention. After the meeting, a young girl took me to see Sproulie Denio. She suggested to him that I should be invited to the Convention! So that was my first Convention. After the convention, this same girl asked me to come to their home for the fellowship meeting. After attending for one and a half months, I realized that the more I attended that little fellowship meeting, the more I loved those people.

Then another voice came to me saying that I might think of them too highly and then I'll be disappointed someday. That was a scary voice. So the next Sunday, instead of going to the fellowship meeting, I went to the Presbyterian Church to compare. I sat in the very front row and watched carefully. When the preacher gave his sermon, it was like muddy water and I felt I couldn't drink that.

The Gospel messages were like pure clean water for me. On the left hand side of his pulpit there were a few envelopes of thanks-giving money. The third from the top was the thickest one. He pulled out the third envelope first and spoke out loudly that 'so and so's business is going well so he is giving thanks-giving money to God.' When I heard that I felt nauseated and wanted to get out right away but seeing a few hundred people sitting behind me, I lost courage and waited until they finished the service.

When I came to my room, I opened my bible and prepared my testimony and prayer for the next Sunday, and the wait for the fellowship meeting was the longest week I ever had. When I went to the fellowship meeting, I was too nervous to pray so I lost my chance and, when the testimony time came, I took all my courage and spoke a couple of sentences. Bob was in that meeting and, after the meeting, Bob asked me to come to visit at their bach. There I expressed my choice to Sproulie. I was so surprised to find out later that the very next morning at 6 o'clock he suddenly passed away. That news gave me a feeling of big loss and I didn't tell anybody but, from that day, I prayed to God if God would like to use my life, I will offer it.

Those days I was tutoring 6th grade students. The 24th of October was United Nations day which was a holiday. So I took a few students to Sproulie's grave and when we were sitting around there, two high school boys came and they were taking each other's picture. One of them came to me and asked me to take their picture together, so I did. Then that same boy wanted to take a picture of me, so I told him if he really wanted to do that please include these children, so he did.

A few days after that, I had a letter from him and in it he enclosed the picture and he wrote in his letter that he wanted to call me his sister. So I answered his and listened carefully with his heart and obeyed then he would be my brother and I would be his sister. So those boys came and a few months later both of them professed and they are still in the Way.

My younger brother whom I took to the first gospel meeting also professed but passed away in 1969 when he was only 22 years-old. Now both my parents and another two younger brothers and their wives are professing. So their children have the privilege to grow up in the truth. I'm so grateful for them and all the goodly portion that God has granted me.

Gratefully Yours, Sungmi Pahk