“I shall be the woman of Sychar for the One Stone” - Interview with Evangelist Soon Boon Hong
In commemoration of the 60th anniversary of Huisun Rev. Abraham Park’s ministry and the 10th anniversary of the History of Redemption series publication, True Peace Magazine is conducting a special interview series in joint project with Huisun Memorial Association. Following the first interview with the wife of Rev. Abraham Park, Gap Sik Min and the second interview with Elder Won Sik Jung (former prime minister) along with his wife Elderess Hyak Young Lim (published in the last March issue), the third interview was conducted with Evg. Soon bun Hong, a living witness of the History of Redemption movement. This interview took place at the church’s Anna Sanctuary. As soon as the interview began, I realized that I did not have to prepare any questions; Evg. Hong continued her story without a pause for over two hours. To make the readers feel like they were also at the scene, I have used the exact phrases and wording that Evg. Hong used during the interview.
In Genesis 47:9, Jacob stood before Pharaoh and said, “The years of my sojourning are one hundred and thirty; few and unpleasant have been the years of my life.” But his confession is not enough to describe my life. An old Korean proverb says, “My own cold is greater than someone else’s plague,” and it might be the reason why I think that I had a tougher life than Jacob. From our church, I think Elder Geuk Hwa Jeon (Editor’s note: A female saint who was there since the early days of Pyungkang Cheil Church, currently residing in the US) has suffered a lot of tribulation; after her, it will be me who suffered the most. Not single day did I eat well or live an easy life.
I was born in Jangam-ri, Jangyeon-myun, Gwesan-gu, Chungbuk in 1941. It was a remote countryside which is called “Dambawi (“dam: in Korean means wall and “bawi” means rock) because there were only stone walls and rocks. There were hills everywhere and clear water flowing in the valley. It was a remote village where you have no chance to see fish but can only eat snails. There were flat and high rocks near the valley. In summer, I used to lie down by the valley after taking a bath and count the stars one by one. It says in the Bible that the ten cities will be given ten stars according to their talents in the end. When I was born, I had little chance to survive so my parents delayed my birth registration for three years. I was actually born in 1941 but my birth year is listed as 1943 on paper. My parents told me that though I seemed like I was about to die, I kept on surviving. Since then I have been sick all the time. I think I grew up like the kids in Africa. Even when I became an evangelist and went around to teach the Bible, I caught colds so often that I was given the nickname, “the year-round cold.” I taught, “Only when you know, you can live eternally and get transfigured,” and, “If you take the Old Testament and the New Testament like medicine, you will not die.” But as soon as I finished teaching, I would turned around and take out medicine from my bag (laughs). My life has always been one of suffering. It was never easy and I was never healthy. Constipation, gastrointestinal problems, poor eyesight... I cannot walk properly due to damaged discs. I had a heart surgery and my gallbladder is messed up. When your gallbladder is messed up, you get farther from being able to conceive.
“I must hold onto him.”
It was the year 1970 when I first met Rev. Abraham Park. I was 30 years old and a mother of two children. The only experience with church was just past three months in some other church since April in the year 1970. At that time, I had only read the Bible from Genesis to Joshua. I could not even get to the New Testament. But one day, I went over to my friend’s house and spotted a book called, “Song on the Victory of the Word” lying there. Its size was like a small handbook with a red cross painted on it and had stains as if kids peed on it. I asked, “What is this book? Why is this book hanging around in your house? This book looks as if someone peed on it.” And my friend replied, “Oh, that. It is a book of praise lyrics written by a pastor who prayed for 3 years and 6 months in the mountains.” I had heard of this pastor before who prayed for 3 years and 6 months in the mountains. I don’t know why but I was suddenly struck and I brought this book home without telling my friend about my sudden departure. Thinking back, it was a letter from God the Father to call me. At home, I began reading the book and the first song was “Alpha and Omega”. The songs like “Returning On the White Cloud,” “In the Weary East...”, and “A Minute Before 12” were all in the book. I have read the book too many times that I almost know them by heart. These lyrics contain all the meanings of the Bible. At the time, I did not even know where the New Testament is in the Bible but I loved these lyrics so much that I copies these lyrics all night long. So I think that the missionaries are predestined. When I looked at myself, even I thought I was like a crazy person. After copying all the lyrics, a thought came into my mind that only if I believe the Bible like this, God’s will can be fulfilled. And then another thought followed that the writer of this book is like the prophet Moses of this age. I used to wonder, “why isn’t there any prophet in our time?” I thought, “Oh, we need a prophet like him in our age. I must hold onto him even in our time.” So I returned to my friend’s house and asked, “Hey, How can I get to that church?” and that’s how I came to our church in Daebang-dong at that time. That day was July 9th, 1970 on Thursday. There was a service at 11 AM. Because I had carsickness, I took some medicine before leaving. I arrived before everyone else. I was walking up a narrow path with my 2-year old child and my 5-year old child when Rev. Abraham Park was looking down at me from the top. He asked me with a smile where I was from. I told him that I was from Eungam-dong and he asked me why I came to this church when there are many other churches in my area. So I answered to him, “I came because I love the Word,” when I didn’t have a single Bible study yet (laughs). He must have liked my answer because he laughed. The church back then was Mt. Zion One Stone Church and it was a house of Elder Geuk Hwa Jeon’s used as a church. It was a really small house. There was only one blackboard and he taught the Bible with it. On my first day, he taught, “His command leads to eternal life.” On the next day, he taught about “the cloud”. He asked me a question but when I couldn’t answer well and he threw a chalk at me immediately. Also, there were five of us who sat together during the Bible study. Once, he took out candies from a drawer and handed them out to everyone except me. In retrospect, those were my first two trials (laughs).
“You are well aboard on the last train”
After that, the Bible studies continued on. But he kept proclaiming that “We won’t die but live if we faithfully believe in Jesus.” So I asked other people, “When the Pastor says we won’t die, does he mean that our bodies won’t die? Or that our souls won’t die?” They said, “You don’t even know that? It’s a transfiguration where neither the body nor the soul dies.” (1 Cor 15:51) ‘Superhuman strength’ came to my mind. It was popular at the time -- they even pulled a rope attached to a bus full of people using a finger. I thought, ‘We really might not die with that kind of strength inside of people.’ Pastor kept saying Apocalypse, Apocalypse during Bible studies but I did not even know that the Book of Revelation was Apocalypse. I even asked the person next to me “There is no Apocalypse in the Bible however much I look.” Yet, I still jot down the Bible verses he gave to us on three pages of college notebooks every time. That is how I learned the basics of the Word, the introduction to the Word. I was on fire with the Word and read the entire Old and New Testaments in one month.
Every month, Pastor Park held a rally for a week, everyday from Monday to Friday. We studied things like ‘Knowing is Living,’ ‘The First and Second Coming,’ Truth and the Word,’ ‘The Sanctuary,’ ‘Three Days’ Journey.’ Once he started teaching a Bible study it went on for three hours.
In the morning, after lunch, and again after dinner. Three times a day. One time, he took four or five of us to a Chinese restaurant. I think he was proud of me believing so passionately like a mad person although I was new. There he told us, ‘You are well aboard on the last train. People who come from now on won’t be able to see my face.’ My whole lifetime, I remembered what he said and told many people about it -- now it does feel real. Because now we really can’t see his face anymore. I thought he just said that because I was a new believer. And another time he said, ‘You don’t see many people now, but in the future will come a hundred thousand people a day.” He started preaching that “the nations will come” in front of some fifteen or so old-fashioned, gray-haired women wearing traditional clothes.
“After I dreamed about the Samaritan woman of Sychar...”
Was it because I received so much grace and read the Bible so much? At that time I used to dream almost every day. There were many times when those dreams came true in real life the next day. One day I had a dream about the Samaritan woman of Sychar. As you know, Jesus went to the city of Samaria, Sychar, and asked a woman for water, then gave her the well of water springing up to eternal life to be never thirsty again. The woman left her waterpot, went into the city and said to the people that He is Christ, so many Samaritans believed in Jesus (John 4:1-30). After having the dream about the Samaritan woman of Sychar, there was a Bible study the next day and I was a little late. So then Evangelist Beom-Rae Lee said “Why did you come now, Pastor Park wrote something for everyone on each of their Bibles” and handed my Bible to me. I opened it and it read, “I shall be the woman of Sychar for the one stone and one stone only.” When I told Evangelist Beom-Rae Lee about my dream, she was astounded and told the people there, “Eun-Young’s mother had a dream about the Samaritan woman of Sychar and this is what the Pastor wrote for her.”
As soon as I came to church, I was so crazy about Bible studies that I started carrying the bags of Pastor Woon Cho Yeo and Evangelist Beom-Rae Lee, who has passed. At that time, no one even told me to evangelize, but I was going about like that. In retrospect, it was all training to become an evangelist. The Word was so good that right after I started going to church, I began to evangelize from door to door in the Eungam-dong area where I used to live. Back then, Eungam-dong was where a lot of the more affluent people resided. People told me, "You never went to church when we tried to evangelize to you so much. What happened?" I know. What I disliked the most in the world were evangelists…
Evg. Soon Boon Hong is a natural born talker. The Heavenly Father gave her such talent to lead as many souls as there are stars. She also holds extraordinary memory. As well as her own experiences, she remembers each episode and major figures within Pyungkang’s early church history. "I have to forget but I can’t," she says, “but when Rev. Park was around, I didn’t even have the time to think about it. After his passing, everything just came together.”
Her story of "I’ll only speak of what I saw and heard myself” will be printed in the next issue, which will speak of Rev. Park’s decades-old vision of world mission, the wonderful story of receiving the name of “Anna,” the hidden stories of church history, and the faithful and recent changes since Rev. Park’s passing.
Reporter: Joon Suk Ho, True Peace Senior Editor | Photographer: Soo Gon Ha