When I try to keep my conscience, God is with me

Gong Deok-ryeol, Deaconess (1)
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I started a fruit business to make a living.
Even though people around me suggested changing the fruits I already paid for with the ones that looked better when the owner was not looking, I didn’t do so as it was against my conscience.
Whenever I thought it was better to live hungry than compromise my principles, a fragrant smell wafted from somewhere.

Gong Deok-ryeol

I was born in 1914 in Songlim, Ongjin-gun, Hwanghae Province. I continued to live in Songlim-myeon and, at the age of 20, married a man from the same hometown. A few years after getting married, I was contacted by deacons, senior deacons and foreign missionaries of the Methodist church, located about 5 ri (approximately 2km) away from our village and I began to attend it. Initially, my husband disapproved my attending the church and opposed it, but after some time, he started to join me in going to the church.

After the liberation from Japanese colonial rule in 1945, the joy was short-lived as the Korean Peninsula was divided into North and South and a communist regime took hold in the North. The communists plundered the village’s food, livestock, and suppressed people even for attending churches. They by force took over the church we attended and used it as their office.

After the Korean War which started on June 25, 1950, we found it impossible to survive in the North where there is no freedom of action.
Consequently, we decided to move to the South

My husband, who handled the church’s accounting, faced criticism from the communists for his belief in God. During the process of refuting their accusations, he was subjected to a people’s trial and, through torture, was released in a near-death state.

Living in a world where there was no freedom of religion and no personal liberties, my husband and I found it impossible to survive in the North. Taking our children with us, we secretly boarded a boat one night and fled to the South. Unfortunately, due to the lingering effects of the torture, my husband’s health had deteriorated significantly, and he passed away during our escape.

After enduring many hardships, I arrived in Busan with my children. I settled in a place where refugees from Seodaesin-dong gathered. Stranded without any place to rely on after leaving our hometown, we established a Presbyterian church and worshiped together. Refugees at the time also attended revival meetings held here and there. I also attended wherever there was a revival meeting while regularly going to the refugee church.

My family, coming out as refugees, abandoning all our possessions, naturally faced incredibly difficult living conditions. To provide food for my children and myself, I started a business in the market. When doing fruit business with a few people, whenever we went to wholesale merchants to buy goods, those who went with me would secretly swap the fruits they already paid for with the ones that looked better when the owner wasn’t looking. They suggested that I do the same, but as a person of faith, I couldn’t bring myself to engage in such actions that went against my conscience.

Even after hearing sarcastic remarks about my way of doing business, I found myself thinking that I would rather live hungry than compromise my principles. And, whenever I had such thoughts, a fragrant smell would waft from somewhere and fill my nostrils. Surprisingly, the items I brought sold much better than those of others. Even during the most challenging and difficult times, when seeking God with tears, that fragrance was there without fail. It was a refreshing scent, like the aroma of fruits, filling the air. Day by day, as I struggled to make a living, whether walking down the street, conducting business, or gathering firewood to cook rice, whenever I earnestly sought God in my heart, those mysterious scents would intensify as if pouring down from above.

During difficult and challenging times, whenever I earnestly sought God with tears, a fragrant smell would waft in, filling my nostrils

While going through such experiences, around 1955, one day, I heard news from fellow church members that Elder Park Tae-sun, the Messenger of Fire, was holding a meeting near Yeongju-dong at Banseok Church. I joined them, and we visited the place where the meeting was taking place. After a pastor led the preparatory hymns, Elder Park took the podium, and led singing hymns, striking the rostrum. Suddenly, at one moment, a very fragrant smell vibrated in the air. ‘Ah! This fragrance is the same scent I have encountered several times before.’ I was extremely surprised and amazed.

During the worship, Elder Park gave His blessing, blowing air “Shick, Shick!” and that wonderful fragrance deeply embraced me, making me feel uplifted. At that moment, Elder Park’s appearance shone brightly like the moon.

When God led singing, striking the rostrum, the fragrance I had encountered before several times vibrated in the air

Furthermore, as He delivered His sermon and stroke the rostrum, large fireballs erupted in all directions, even reaching my head. I was so astonished by the sight, thinking, ‘This person seems extraordinary. Truly miraculous!’

After a moment, Elder Park asked, “During this hour, has anyone smelled the fragrance when I led the singing and delivered sermon, striking the rostrum?” Many people answered “yes.” He continued, “When someone struggles not to commit sins by all means, there should be somebody who smelled the fragrance. That person, raise your hand.” As I thought the fragrance Elder Park mentioned was the same fragrant smell I had encountered, I quickly raised my hand.

Elder Park then said, “Many refugees have attended this gathering. Among them, those who smelled the fragrance, raise your hands.” Many people raised their hands. Elder Park continued, “The refugees with the desperate determination came here, relying solely on God. Even after coming here as refugees, they were afraid of committing sins, crying while earnestly seeking God. Many of them must have smelled the fragrance. However, until now, no one knew what it was when you smelled a good fragrance or experienced living water while seeking God. Today, I want to make you realize this.”, striking the rostrum.

When struggling not to commit sin and seeking God earnestly, the fragrance I had encountered was indeed a divine scent

As He spoke, fireballs erupted again, and at that moment, something cool flowed down from my neck to my chest, making my entire body feel refreshed. Overwhelmed with gratitude and thankfulness, tears flowed endlessly. After coming back from this week-long meeting, I made sure to attend every meeting led by Elder Park, who was touring and guiding meetings in Busan.

However, after concluding meetings at Choryang Church, Elder Park faced disturbances from the Christian council and was unable to hold meetings in Busan for some time. Many people who had attended Elder Park’s meetings, received grace, and rejoiced, had to come back to the churches they had attended before. However, the grace received from Elder Park was unforgettable, and my heart was even thirstier for it. In the churches I had attended, no matter how hard I tried, my prayers did not feel sincere, and my heart remained stifled. All I could do was to earnestly hope to receive that grace once again. (continue)

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