BE COMPLETELY HUMBLE
Oct. 13, 2017
Ephesians 4:2, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”
At the 2017 staff conference, God spoke to me through Ephesians 4:2, which reads, “Be completely humble.” I thought that I became somewhat humble. But it says, “Be completely humble.” Before this word of God, I knelt down asking God’s mercy for me to become completely humble like our Lord Jesus Christ. So in this testimony I want to share with you how God had disciplined me to be humble through his servant Dr. Lee so that I would serve God and men humbly.
In 1981, God sent me to the US as a missionary. At the airport, Dr. Lee welcomed me and gave me the name Henry as my American missionary name. You may wonder where the name Henry came from because it is not from the Bible. It was not from Henry VIII of England but from Prince Henry the Navigator who found the Cape of Good Hope in South Africa. Dr. Lee invited me and my wife to stay at his home for a while. He loved me and used to call me “Prince Henry.” I thought that Dr. Lee was very strong and Dr. Lee thought that I was too weak. In order to help me become strong, he gave me eating training. It was the best training that I ever received! M. Grace A. Lee and M. Esther Chung served me with many delicious meals. After a while, I became much wider than before. When I came to America, my mom had bought me 7 new suits. But I could no longer fit in those new suits. Dr. Lee asked Mother Barry to get me a very nice and big yellow nylon suit from a thrift store. When I became healthy and strong after this eating training, Dr. Lee called me and explained to me what kind of training I needed in order to become a normal human being who could understand others’ agonies. Then he shared with me a very shocking prayer topic: He prayed that I might go and find a job in a factory. I was shocked. How could a prince become a factory boy?
Until then, I never worked to make money. My father grew up in a poor family and he was always hungry. This gave him a burning desire to succeed. Finally he became a self-made millionaire businessman. As a parent, he did not want his children to suffer. So he provided everything for me until I became a very spoiled person. One time my college classmate told me that he was going to work all summer in order to earn his tuition. I was surprised and asked, “Why don’t you ask your parents to pay the tuition for you?” He smiled a little bit and answered, “They are poor and don’t have money.” Then I suggested, “They can just take out money out from the bank.” At that time, I did not know what was going on in others’ lives.
I was proud and spoiled, so God gave me many kinds of humbleness training. When I was in 6th grade, I failed the entrance exam to go to the first class middle school. So I ended up having to go to the second class middle school. I was humbled. I studied hard and entered the first class high school in Inchon. God also humbled me with tuberculosis. After heavy smoking and drinking during my freshmen and sophomore years in college, I ruined my health and contracted tuberculosis. I thought that I was dying. At this time, God invited me to Bible study in UBF through Shepherd David Kim. The words of God from John’s gospel revived this dying man to new life. John 1:4 says, “In him was life and that life was the light of men.”
Though God helped me in many ways to humble myself, I did not know how proud and spoiled I was until Dr. Lee helped me to humble myself through his love and many kinds of trainings. The factory boy training was the first training through which God humbled me. God granted me a job in a factory that manufactured medical devices such as silicone implant for cancer patients. My job was packing the device. I could not find any meaning in packing the device all day long, day after day. Learning humbleness did not come easily. But through this factory boy training, I gradually came to understand the agonies of people who suffer in order to survive. As Dr. Lee prayed for me to learn humanity and divinity, I began to learn humanity.
The second humbleness training was financial independence and hair loss. When I came to US, I brought $30,000. Dr. Lee told my wife to spend the money quickly so I would not depend on money. My wife was happy to obey him and took me out to dinner every day. Whenever the money in my bank dried up, I called my father to send more money and he did. Dr. Lee found out that I was still depending on my father in Korea for my financial needs. One day, he asked me not to depend on my father financially, but to live by faith, depending on God only. I decided to obey Dr. Lee’s advice. Then suddenly I was caught by future security problem and heat from much anxiety went up to my head. One morning I found that a chunk of the hair on the top of my head was missing and I looked like a medieval monk. When Dr. Lee heard this news, he was happy. He asked me to go to a Jewish bookstore on Devon Street and buy a yarmulke and to cover my bald spot. I went and got the smallest one. Then he told me to exchange it with the biggest one. For a while, I wore a yarmulke on my head and greeted people, “Shalom.” After that, he bought me a French beret, which turned me from an Asian Jewish man to a very stylish French artist. I repented my unbelief sincerely and asked God to restore my hair. God heard my prayer and restored my hair and faith. When I lived by faith, not depending on my father for 10 years, my father was moved and offered to pay the down payment for me to buy a house. When I asked Dr. Lee’s opinion on this matter, he advised me to ask my father to pay for everything – not just the down payment. My father was surprised, but out of respect for Dr. Lee and love for his son, he paid the entire price for the house gladly.
The third humbleness training was dismissal from the staff meeting. Before coming to US, I received intern shepherd training under Dr. John Jun in Korea. Dr. Lee included me as one of the founding members when he formed the first staff meeting in Chicago UBF. Then one day he gently encouraged me to repent my groundless pride at the meeting. During a short break, I ran away from the meeting because my pride was hurt. So I was dismissed from the staff meeting. That was ok. But what broke my heart was that he invited my wife to replace me. In fact, my wife was much more qualified to be a member of the staff meeting because God used her very preciously to raise a few American shepherds such as Geordan Griggs, John Bird and Kevin Albright. Still, it was difficult and humiliating for me to stay at home, babysitting my daughter, while my wife attended the staff meeting. However when Dr. Lee asked all the staff members to turn in their Bible study notes and file them in the bookshelves right in front of his office, though I was not a staff, I kept one binder there and filed all my Bible study notes. My wife copied my questions and answers and filed them as hers. At the end of the year, Mother Barry was given the task of grading all the Bible study notes of the staff members in terms of completeness and quality. I volunteered to help her out and she graciously gave me all A’s. By God’s grace, Dr. Lee restored me to be one of the staff members again.
The fourth humbleness training came from learning English. Pastor Mark Vucekovich, when he was a student at NU, graciously taught me English every morning. His first comment about my English was that my vowels sounded all the same. I was shocked. But I took his comment to heart, found a book on English pronunciation and began to study vowels and consonants. Dr. Lee, with the help of Shepherdess Teresa Sohn, trained all the junior missionaries, including myself, to read and speak English better every Tuesday evening. When I got a job as a high school teacher, my students laughed hard whenever I pronounced words wrong. I felt so embarrassed and decided to check all my pronunciations in the dictionary whenever I had spare time. God used English training for me to become humble and later on would use me help other young missionaries to overcome their English. Dr. Lee also appointed me as one of the Sunday supplementary worship service messengers after this training.
The fifth humbleness training came from living and co-working with my beautiful, sweet, noble, hard-working and well-disciplined wife, Pauline. When I was young, I wanted to marry a very needy woman whom I would take care of like a knight in shining armor. But Pauline was not such a needy woman. My mother-in-law told me that Pauline had been the class representative from elementary school up until high school. Wow! I had never been a class representative in my entire life. Dr. Lee also reminded me of a story of a woodcutter who married an angel when she came down to earth. He told me that Pauline was like an angel and that I was like that lucky woodcutter. He told me that Pauline is like an ocean and I was like a little pond. Now I can agree that Pauline is my better half who God has given to me as the best gift in my life. But at that time, all these things made me angry because my pride was hurt. I was living in the Evanston prayer house with Mother Sarah Barry. Living in the prayer house, I should have learned how to pray. Instead I shouted whenever I felt my pride was hurt.
One day I drove out to one of the suburbs in order to cool my head. While I was driving, God showed me a panoramic view of how I have lived as a missionary. When I came to the US, my prayer topic was to become an exemplary missionary and a source of blessing. Instead, I was becoming like a Gerasene demoniac. I cried and cried. I wondered how God could love such a terrible person like me. But God, in his tender mercy, gave me his word from Galatians 2:20, “I have been crucified with Christ. I no longer live but Christ lives in me. The life I live I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.” When this word of God came into my heart, I realized that the problem was my giant ego and pride. I accepted that I have been crucified with Christ and that I no longer live but Christ lives in me. It is to live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me. This love of Christ was so wonderful and amazing. I cried out to Christ Jesus, “Your love is wonderful, more wonderful than that of anyone.” It was like what Paul experienced on the road to Damascus. It changed my life around. It changed me from an extremely self-centered person to a Christ-centered person, who could know Christ’s amazing love toward this unworthy sinner. When I came back to the center that evening, Dr. Lee saw me and said, “Henry, you smell different.” Though I did not say anything to him, he sensed that I became a different person. As the fruit of this repentance and encounter with Christ, my relationship with others began to change greatly. Whenever some conflicts arose, I humbly apologized first, saying, “I am sorry; You are right; Pray for me; I love you.” Then the conflicts resolved.
The sixth humbleness training was to repent my reasonable doubt and accept Dr. Lee’s prayer topic, “America, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Whenever Dr. Lee gave this prayer topic, I prayed with this prayer topic. But after prayer, I said to myself, “No way. This is impossible.” My children, however, simply accepted this prayer topic and always concluded their prayers with this prayer topic. Once I prayed at the dinner table and was about to eat. But my children stopped me saying, “Dad, you forgot to pray, America, a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” One day God had mercy on me and gave me Luke 18:17, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.” In my reasonable intellectualism, I thought that what was impossible with me was also impossible with God. I overestimated myself and underestimated God greatly. But through his word, God transported me from a world of reasonable doubt to a world of faith. From then on, I could have the hope of God in my heart for America and American students to become a kingdom of priests and a holy nation. This hope still sustains my life as a missionary in the midst of many hardships.
The seventh humbleness training was my Ph.D. study. One day Dr. Lee called me and encouraged me to go for my Ph.D. Dr. Lee also challenged me to be faithful in sharing testimony at the Monday staff meeting, delivering messages at a supplementary worship service, and taking care of one fellowship, coworking with Steve Stasinos. He challenged me to overcome all these things by faith. Dr. Lee encouraged me to learn faith to move mountains. God enabled me solve 2 statistics problems that my advisor could not solve for about ten years and successfully obtain a Ph.D. in statistics. In 2002, God sent my family to Columbus Ohio to pioneer a new chapter.
Through these humbleness trainings, I remember the word of God in Hebrews 12:11, “No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.” I thank Dr. Lee who was my spiritual father and a mother-like shepherd. May God help me to be completely humble and live as a servant of our Lord Jesus and for all people. May God make America a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.
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