From a Spoiled Prince to a Good Soldier of Christ Jesus
2 Timothy 2:3
“Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.”
1. A Spoiled prince with no discipline
I was born in a suburb of Cleveland, Ohio, on September 26, 1957, as the youngest of four brothers to Arthur and Edna Kuper. I grew up as a spoiled prince in my home. After raising three sons, my parents ran out of strength to discipline me so I became spoiled from human love. I was timid and became the target of many bullies in middle and high school. I used to cry myself to sleep. I loved going to church and Sunday school. However, at the age of nine I rebelled and stopped going. That was when all the trouble began. I was lazy and undisciplined. I couldn’t find any meaning to my life. I needed a Savior who could save me.
II. A Good Soldier of Christ
I went to BGSU in 1976. I wanted to become a famous sociologist, but I was spiritually empty. I cried out to God in my emptiness and despair, and God heard my cry. I heard Jesus’ invitation to my soul: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with him and he with me.” (Rev. 3:20). I received Jesus into my heart; he filled my emptiness and turned my sadness into joy. I was born again. I was invited to 1:1 Bible study by two UBF missionaries. I was so happy that I came to the campus Bible study the very next week. Pastor Paul Hong became my Bible teacher. Sometimes, his authoritarian character and my rebellious spirit clashed. But in time we became friends, and I grew in God’s word.
In 1985, I married by faith with Msn. Hannah Lee, a student missionary, in Chicago. Dr.Samuel C. Lee gave us 2 Timothy 2:3 as our marriage key verse. “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” What a key verse for a wedding! Dr. Lee knew me so well. He said that I spoke like a president, but had no discipline. With this word, he prayed for me to become a one-star spiritual general through discipline. After marriage, I worked full time to support our family, finished my Master’s degree and grew as a shepherd. My wife, M. Hannah, was a good sergeant. We pioneered the Good Soldiers Fellowship in Toledo UBF. God sent a soldier-sheep, Jeff Lewis to my wife, M. Hannah, and later Jeff raised his younger brother Greg Lewis. Our family coworked for 13 years as one of the senior shepherd families in Toledo UBF and God blessed us with two wonderful sons, Paul and John.
Then in February 1998, Paraguay UBF requested an English teacher to start an English program in the Korean school. My family accepted the invitation through P. Ron/Dr. Samuel Lee to go to Paraguay as short-term missionaries for one year. We were happy to support our dear friends and front-line missionaries, M. John & Maria Lee. So we boldly sold home and cars quit our jobs, committed sheep to God and left for Paraguay within a month. Paul was in 6th grade and John in 1st grade. It was like Jesus’ fieldwork training, sending out 12 disciples with nothing to depend on but God. We went to Paraguay without knowing a word in Spanish; we didn’t understand Sunday messages. We took language classes right away. Paraguay was like a garden with its sweet bananas and pineapples. I served English WS and participated in fishing with coworkers. I cannot forget the late M. John Lee and having conferences at his farm.
After my one year contract ended, we wanted to return to America to work, pursue a PhD, and pioneer a campus. However, Dr. Lee, full of WM vision to raise American missionaries, challenged me to stay in the mission field. My plan was to stay one year, but God led me to stay 13 years. God’s desire to accomplish WM is so much greater than ours. We prayed 100 days’ united prayer for an open door for me. God opened the door for me to work in a small Christian school in BA, Argentina but with no salary at first--only an apartment, health insurance and free school tuition. But we thanked God and moved to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in July 2000. Later, M. Hannah was hired as a teacher. Gradually, through her influence, 1/3 of the school enrollment became Korean. This was how the history of Argentina UBF began. As I review, I can see how God worked in and through our family of mission in five ways.
First, God made us a spiritual refuge to start a new Argentina UBF.According to Dr. Lee’s direction, we began a new UBF in our small apartment as an American missionary family, rather than joining the existing UBF chapter. After six months, however, 2 missionary families joined us, Msn Jose and Rebekah Park and Msn Isaac and Mary Cho. Suddenly, we had three missionary families and seven second Gens. Our apartment was so small that we had to remove the furniture every Sunday WS. Later, we moved to a new center in downtown Buenos Aires two blocks from main campus (UBA). Dr. Lee gave me direction to have Spanish and English WS. It was a spiritual training and blessing for me to meditate on God’s word to serve two worship services during 4 years.
Second, God used Argentina UBF to raise second Gen missionaries. Our 2nd Gens participated in both services faithfully serving as presiders, prayer/ music servants. They grew in faith and in English language skills. They also grew through testimony writing, serving conferences and forming a UBF orchestra. During 11 years we had ten summer conferences and ten Easter conferences with many international guests and messengers from all over the world. God also used our center as a training camp for Second Gens from USA as well. Once, Danny Yang, Albert Sohn, Kristin Weed, and Agnes Sohn were all in Buenos Aires to learn Spanish and participate in our ministry. Agnes invited her classmate, Heather Ashburn, an American girl from Minnesota, to Sunday WS. She was thirsty for God’s word and studied Ephesians with me and accepted herself as God’s workmanship (Eph. 2:10). When she returned to the USA, she was cared for by Mother Barry and Liz Hembekedes. Heather later joined Minnesota pioneering ministry with Pastor Abraham and Sarah Kim. By God’s grace, she became a missionary to Bulgaria marrying Shep. Georgi.
Third, God used Argentina UBF to be a missionary-sending chapter.
In 2004, Msn. Jose Park made a decision of faith to pioneer a new chapter in Uruguay. In 2006, Msn. Isaac Cho made a decision of faith to pioneer La Plata, Argentina. In this way, God sent out nine members as missionaries all over again. In 2011 our chapter also sent Msn. P. L. as a missionary to Morocco, Northern Africa. In 2005, God sent the family of Msn. Marcos and Ruth Kim to begin a new history as our coworkers in BA. In order to cowork better, I asked Msn. Marcos to give Sunday announcements and deliver Sunday message once every six weeks. M. Marcos and Ruth humbly coworked with my family. In 2010, God sent us a student missionary studying Law, Msn. Erendira, from Mexico City UBF. God used her fishing spirit to invite students from various L.A. countries to Bible study at the center. God also gave her a good job at the Mexican Embassy; she is praying to establish a blessed house church and serve God’s work in B.A. UBF.
Fourth, God blessed sisters’ ministry. God raised several prayer mothers in Buenos Aires UBF. Several years ago, I fished a Peruvian college student in the local grocery store. She eagerly accepted Bible study and then invited her sister Dorka and best friend Claudia to our ministry. God raised Claudia, Dorka, Sandra, Gladiz, Karen, and Mary Sue as remnants and prayer mothers. Through Bible study, each of them came to know Jesus and found new life overcoming their fatalistic elements of life from broken families and sin problems. They’re all students of UBA and are serving the work of God in many ways. When M. Erendira came, God formed a sisters’ house among them. Dr. Abraham Kim gave us the prayer topic that God may raise 5 house churches in Buenos Aires within 2 years beginning with M. Erendira. Since there are no growing brothers in Buenos Aires, we prayed that God may raise men with missionary vision to come to Argentina. God heard our prayers! One house church will be established this April. Praise God! We also pray that God may give one son to M. Marcos’ family and send 10 Argentine brothers from UBA this year.
Fifth, God gave me a field work training to raise me as a messenger and good soldier of Christ.Looking back, God blessed our family to experience fieldwork training in the mission field. I was 40 when I left and now I am 54. During that time, we had to depend only on God, and God took good care of us. Our children are proud to be 2nd gen. missionaries. They became bilingual and precious coworkers with us in the mission field. Moreover, God trained me as a shepherd and messenger of God’s word molding me through hardship to be a good soldier of Christ Jesus through 13 years of fieldwork training in S. A.
Future Direction and Vision - Missionary Fellowship to help raise North American missionaries.
Last August 2011, our family made a decision to return to the USA because we needed to strengthen our family in the Lord. We had a conviction that Buenos Aires UBF will keep growing under the leadership of Msn Marcos and Ruth Kim and that our sisters will be gospel coworkers. Upon returning, Pastor Ron assigned me to be a leader of the new “missionary fellowship”. God’s servants encouraged me to use our 13 years’ missionary life to support front-line missionaries/ prepare new missionaries to be sent from N. A. Moreover, God led us to continue to support Latin America serving as one of 5 Spanish messengers for Spanish WS while supporting family, and M. Hannah serving as a website translator for Latin American chapters. Our younger son John is readjusting well in the USA after living 13 years in the mission field. He is serving as a praise leader for Spanish WS, a member of praise team for main service and coworking for CBF. Our oldest son Paul recently began 1:1 Bible study with me. God will bless him to grow as a responsible and useful man of God and mission. Praise God for calling us, molding us, and using us as a family of good soldiers of Christ through fieldwork training in South America. May God make our family a source of blessing in Chicago by supporting front-line missionaries and raising many new N.A. missionaries to go out to 140 nations.
One Word: God’s field work training in South America to be a good soldier of Christ