The Words of the Oh Family
Mrs. Yeong Choon Oh
Every other place in Busan was already full, so we lived in a church. However, no matter how much I thought about it, I did not feel safe in Busan; in the end, we decided to go to Jeju Island. We went out to the pier and boarded a large American ship. We arrived in North Jeju after twenty-three hours of agony, suffering from seasickness, but the water in North Jeju was salty and we could not find a place to stay.
Left no choice, we borrowed a handcart from the village, loaded it with our luggage and walked twenty-four kilometers to the village of Jocheon, which was about eight kilometers away from the town of Jeju, and settled there. Eleven of us stayed in a small room for ten months, living on rationed rice. Though Jeju Island is part of Korea, the language is almost completely different from our Korean. At first, I could not understand it at all. Gradually, over a couple of months, I began to understand what others were saying. But our money had begun to run out, so my husband and the older children set me up, with the three younger children, in a corner of a battered-up tent in the town of Jeju and left us there to go to Busan in October 1951, saying that they would send for us once they had found a place to stay.
The war, however, did not end; it continued to rage, and in my heart the feeling that the Lord was actually going to come grew stronger. I prayed even more, going to church at four o'clock in the morning every day without fail to offer prayers. Moreover, when clouds with strange shapes appeared, I stared at the sky waiting to see if the Lord was coming on them. Thus, I waited for his coming.
Rev. Yo Han Lee had also come to South Jeju at that time as a refugee. He had been collecting firewood and living on rationed rice. One day, he heard a voice from Heaven, saying, "Go to Jeju-eup on 11.2 on the lunar calendar [second day of eleventh lunar calendar month]." He had not been expecting any such thing and this command bewildered him. He prayed, "Heavenly Father, we have collected enough firewood to last us a long time, so please let us go there in the spring. We will go there after the cold winter has passed. We would need money to live in Jeju-eup." No matter how much he prayed, Heaven would not permit it. Being pressed into going, he prayed again, "How can we go there when we have no money?" The answer came that they should walk. In the end, they gave away all the firewood they had collected to others and walked for five days, arriving in Jeju-eup in the evening of the fifth day.
Not knowing anywhere else to go, they found their way to the house of a church pastor. He treated them unkindly, however, and they thought to themselves that he must have been irritated because many people had come to ask him for help. Then Heaven told them to leave that place and go where their feet took them.
At the time, all the refugees living in rural areas had flocked to Jeju-eup to wait for a ship to Busan, so it was almost impossible to find a tent to stay in. I occupied one corner of a nondescript, poor tent at the far end of a cluster of dozens of tents put up together. Six families lived in it, and I was their leader. It was my job to report to the block leader about who moved into or left the tent.
On the morning of that very day, a couple that had been living across from me left for Busan, so that spot was vacant. For some reason, the block leader had been busy and was not around, so I had been unable to report the couple's departure. I was going to report it the next day. Heaven had prepared before bringing his beloved ones there. The sun was setting when two men dressed in white came to the door and asked, "Is there a place we can stay here?" I answered hesitantly, "There is one vacant spot here but I need to make a report first."
They resolutely came in and sat down. Since they were already inside, I let them stay. I could not make them go out again. Inside the tent was rather damp; people usually spread rice husks and placed a straw bag over them to make a place to rest, but the couple who had occupied the spot before them had used the straw bag to pack their things, which meant that all they were left with were the rice husks. They must have been tired, because they sat down on the husks. I felt sorry for them and gave them two straw bags I had.
They cooked rice in a blackened pot and all they had as a side dish was a mackerel for dinner. Since I had been there longer, I had kimchi, and I handed them a plate of it. They answered, Thank you, but did not say anything else. I thought to myself, they are strange people.
They did not go to church on the Sabbath, and though I felt that they believed in Jesus, I could not question them about it. Moreover, they did not face us. They sat with their backs to us and read the Bible, and we dared not venture to speak to them. A week passed in this manner.
With the feeling that the Lord's coming was imminent, I went to pray early every morning. I was pretending to be the most devout believer. It was the night of 10.25 on the lunar calendar. The area was windy at all times, but on that night, the wind blew fiercely and the rain fell in torrents. Everyone was afraid and raised a racket, some holding on to the tent or the poles and praying and others worrying aloud. Rev. Lee had been listening to them in silence when he said, "Heaven is going to pass judgment on us tonight." We all thought that we were going to die and prayed even more intensely. During those several hours, dozens of tents were in turmoil.
At about half past eleven at night, with a ripping sound, half of our tent was torn away. Three families moved out at once, going to the homes of their relatives or acquaintances, because they could not endure the rain pouring down on them. This was the judgment. Now only three households remained -- a widow with children, my family and Rev. Lee. The wind and rain soon subsided.
A photograph of Mrs. Yeong Choon Oh provided by a church elder who knew her
We stayed up all night, using the torn part of the tent as a blanket. We waited for the day to break and then got up, found that the other tents were all unharmed and that ours had been the only one Heaven had passed judgment on.
In the morning, the weather was fine and windless. On the whole, it was a clear day. Rev. Lee said, "I have finally become the owner." With a light heart, he made us all collect stones, and we straightened the tent together and propped it up with poles. After a half-day's hard work, the tent became livable again, at least for the three remaining households. In an instant, Heaven had judged and disencumbered the tent of the families of two church elders and a church deacon.
Another week passed. On the night of Ha on the lunar calendar, at eleven o'clock at night, everyone had lain down to sleep, when my eight-year-old, Yoon Ju, asked me, "Mommy, why did God create the devil?" I answered, "He didn't create the devil; the devil became the devil all by himself." The child continued, "If that's the case, won't God lose to the devil? A war had broken out and we have had to come all the way here and suffer...."
I could find no words to answer these questions. Even at the age of six, Yoon Ju had asked his grandfather, who was a church elder, questions he had been unable to answer for his young grandson. So I chided him. "Why are you asking such questions again? I don't know!" I told him to go to sleep.
The second day of eleventh lunar calendar month dawned. In the early hours of that day, Rev. Lee heard a voice saying, "Open the door." He opened the flap of the tent but there was no one there, and he felt that he was being told to speak to Deaconess Oh. Therefore, he began to speak to me, saying first that he had prepared extensively with the intention of giving lectures in a large church.
Refugees flock to Busan after the war broke out. Busan is one of the few cities in South Korea that North Korean troops never occupied.
In the early morning, Rev. Lee sat facing me, and his first words were a criticism. He told me that when my young child had asked questions the previous night, I should have told him that I did not know and that he should pray to receive an answer. He criticized me for telling the child to go to sleep instead. Then he poured out statements I had never heard in my church. I was bewildered and at first suspicious. I wondered who the man was that was saying these things, but what he said was so interesting and wonderful that I forgot all about cooking breakfast or eating it. The door of my heart opened, and I underwent the wonderful experience of truth tasting sweeter than honeycombs.
Rev. Lee said, "I don't know who you are that Heaven has guided us from hundreds of kilometers away to come to this place and speak these things to just one person." I resented even the moments of rest. I wished I didn't have to spend time eating or sleeping. Even when I went out to do the washing,
I would come running back without checking to see if all the soapy water had drained. Since I could not ask him to say more to me, I stood there and gazed at him like a hungry child who is too shy to ask for food so keeps staring at it. Understanding my heart, Rev. Lee spoke to me whenever he had time.
On the third day, we had been holding service together when I suddenly broke down and wept my heart out. Unconsciously, I sang hymns and prayed so loudly that the tent all but shook with noise. Heaven worked miracles on me until three o'clock in the morning. I received wonderful grace, and every time
I had a question and prayed about it, Heaven answered me. Rev. Lee repeatedly said that he didn't understand why Heaven was working such great miracles for just one person, this Deaconess Oh. I, too, did not know.
Two months passed in this way; we were enraptured in the word and drowning in joy. The inside of the tent, a torn-up half of a tent at that, had become heaven. Whether it be a cottage or a palace, wherever the Lord dwells is heaven. I wondered to myself if Rev. Lee was the Lord my mother had talked about, even though I knew that the Lord was going to come to Pyongyang.
Right there and then, I put an end to my faith of thirty years derived from worshipping in other churches. So when pastors and women came witnessing, I turned them away. My other family members in Busan pressed me to come there and I became anxious. I felt as if I would die if
I were parted from Rev. Lee. Still, I felt I had to go. I discussed the issue with him and he said that I should go and that he would also soon go to Busan. Thus comforted, I went to Busan on December 30, 1951.
Even though I was with my family again, I was not glad to see them. In my heart, all I could think about was that tent on Jeju Island. I didn't go to church; I prayed at home. I informed Rev. Lee on Jeju of our address and waited for eight months. Finally, on August 20, my welcome visitor came. I was so glad to see him that I could not find words to express it, and though our place was a shabby refugee's room in Yeongdo, I received my precious visitor and he stayed with us for a week.
March 31, 1955: Father with early members from Pyongyang, Se Hyun Ok (left) who ascended in 1998; Seong Do Ji, who ascended in 1988; and Won Pil Kim, who ascended in 2010. Mrs. Yeong Choon Oh met them when Father was living in the Busan area.
Since my family alone included eleven people, I could not have him stay with us any longer.
After much thought, I had the idea that he could build a tent or hut and live in Sandeung, Beomildong. We went there together after preparing some household items. Yet, when we reached the area, that too seemed impossible. Rev. Lee suggested that we go to see Mrs. Se Hyun Ok.
He said he would know where to go when we reached Choryang. The house we arrived at was her relative's, and when we knocked on the door the maid opened it. We asked, "Is Mrs. Ok here?" The girl answered, "She got news that the teacher has come from Pyongyang, so she went to Beomnatgol."
I thought it was strange to hear of another teacher. Rev. Lee then said to me, "The sun is about to set, so you should go home. We will meet the teacher and tell you about it later, so go home now."
After returning home, I waited every day for news, but none came. I was nervous, fearing that I had lost Rev. Lee as well. After a week, he came back and joy filled me at seeing him. He said, "I met the teacher." I asked, "Where is he?" At the time, I had been calling him Teacher Lee. Rev. Lee said, "That house is too small and his wife and son are there, so it would be best if we rented another room." I answered, "We should do so without a second's thought." The next day we went looking for a room. One day, we found and rented a relatively bright and clean room, and after deciding that we should have him move in there two days later, I returned home.
The next day, I thought to myself that I would first stock the house with some rice. I took a streetcar from Yeongdo Terminal, carrying about sixteen kilograms of rice on my head. Surrounded by so many refugees, I could not find any space to put the rice down. In the end, I had to carry it on my head all the way to Beomil-dong. Sweat poured down and it was arduous work, but I did not think it laborious at all because joy filled my heart. I did not mind climbing a sloping road or stepping on loose stones. I made haste to climb the hill, and when I looked at the house, I found that the chimney was giving out smoke. Thinking it strange and wondering if anyone was there, I reached the house, put down the rice, opened the kitchen door and found Mrs. Hee Sook cooking lunch. Surprised, I asked her what was going on. She answered, "Teacher is here. Go in to greet him."
I was a complete mess. My face was smeared with sweat. Besides, I was wearing wide pants, so I could not bring myself to go in. Instead, I said that I was going to go home and would come back the next day. Mrs. Hee Sook pressed me to go in, however, saying that it was all right because we were all refugees. Taking heart, I opened the door and stepped in, to find Father, Mrs. Se Hyun Ok, Mr. Won Pil Kim, Rev. Lee and others sitting around the room.
I greeted them and sat down. I did not even know who he was. Now that I think about it, I believe I did not even feel embarrassed. His first words to me were, "Deaconess Oh is a fruit born in the Oh clan." I wondered what he meant by that, and thought to myself that he was a handsome man. Then he asked, "Who are Yoon Gyii Oh and In Gyu Oh?" and I replied, "They are my uncles." He remarked, "They were in Pyongyang Prison with me." I was surprised. When I left the house, he used to stand in the doorway and watch me until I could not see him anymore.
Father in the early days at a Sunday service amidst nature; many members were poor in those days, but they found delight in the spirit and loved True Father.
I could not concentrate on doing housework if I did not go to see him every day. Because Satan always knew beforehand, Father could not live in any place in comfort. In five days or less, some reason would arise compelling him to vacate a room. If I arrived at his place later than usual, I would find them all gone and the room empty; not knowing their new address or where they had gone, I would search for them with an anxious heart.
He had moved for the third time, and I did not know where he had gone, so after much thought I decided to go to Beomnatgol where he had built a hut with his own hands. I had been walking in that direction for a while, but feeling helpless, I sat down under a large zelkova tree, sighed and then prayed. After some time, a man passed by, so I asked him, "Excuse me, is there a place here where they hold service?" He told me, "Try that pointed tent." I stood up immediately and was heading in that direction when I saw Father seated on a rock. He saw me and came down, saying that he had moved again and we should go there together. No matter how much I tried to keep up with him, he walked so fast that when I had climbed over the hilltop, he was gone and I couldn't see where he had gone. I was worried in my heart, but soon a member came to find me, and we went there together. It was Sunday, so we had a service.
Though the mud-hut Father had built had only one room, in it he spoke of matters that could restore the universe. He talked about God's heart, Adam and Eve's fall and other amazing matters. Enthralled by what he said, we did not know where time went. At times, I became suspicious, but then I thought that if I went to hell with him, that place would be heaven for me. With a few people seated around him, he would kneel down and pray, his words flowing like a river, or speak of matters that would dominate all heaven and earth. I deplored the fact that we were the only ones listening to him. At the time, he spoke to us while being seated, but I felt that I would die with contentment on the spot if I saw him speak standing in front of a large audience in a big lecture hall.