We Are Trained by Our Wounds

People threw rocks at the new expression of truth that I preached, calling it heresy. Jesus, born in the land of Judaism, was also accused of being a heretic and was crucified. By comparison, the persecution that I received personally was not nearly as painful or unjust I could endure any amount of pain that was placed on my body. The charge of heresy against our church, however, was most unjust. Some theologians who studied our church in its early days described the teachings as original and systematic. Some of them were prepared to accept them. So the fact that the heresy controversy surrounding our church grew to such an extent could not be for theological reasons. It had more to do with the realities of power.

Most of our members had attended other churches before joining our church. This was the primary reason that our church became the enemy of established churches. When Professor Yoon Young Yang, one of the Ewha professors who had joined our church, was taken to the police station to be interrogated, she discovered that some 80 Christian ministers had written letters to the authorities criticizing our church.

Clearly, this was not a case where we had done something wrong. It was a case where we were seen as posing a threat to the power of certain people and institutions. It was their vague feelings of fear and extreme factionalism that had resulted in the attempt to suppress our church.

People from many religious groups were attracted to our church and its new teachings. I would say to our members, "Why did you come here? Go back to your churches," and almost threaten them as I tried to chase them away. But they would soon return. The people who flocked to see me would not listen to anyone. They wouldn't listen to their teachers or their parents. They wanted to hear me speak. I wasn't paying them or feeding them, but they believed in what I told them and kept coming to me. The reason was that I opened a way that allowed them to resolve their frustrations. Before I knew the truth, I was also frustrated. I was frustrated when I looked up to Heaven and when I looked at the people who were around me. So I could understand the frustrations of the people who came to our church. They had questions about life to which they could not find the answers. The word of God that I conveyed to them answered those questions with clarity. The young people who sought me out found answers to their questions in the words that I spoke, and so they wanted to come to our church and accompany me on my spiritual journey, no matter how difficult it might be.

I am the person who finds the way and opens it. I guide people along the path to reestablish broken families, reestablish society, the nation, the world, and finally return to God. The people who come to me understood this. They want to go with me in search of God. I cannot understand how some people find fault in this. All we were doing was going in search of God, but we had to be subjected to all manner of persecution and criticism from the world.

Unfortunately, my wife made matters even more difficult for me during the period that our church was involved in the heresy controversy. Following our meeting in Busan, she and her relatives began demanding that I agree to a divorce. She and her relatives wanted me to quit the church immediately and start a life with her and our son. Otherwise, she wanted a divorce. They even came to Seodaemun Prison during my incarceration there, put the divorce papers before me and demanded that I place my stamp on them. I know how important marriage is to the effort to establish God's world of peace. So I endured their demands in silence.

She also subjected members of our church to unspeakable violence. I could endure her insults and reckless treatment of me, but it was difficult for me to stand by and watch her offensive behavior toward our members. She would storm into our church at all hours and curse our members, destroy church property, and take items that belonged to the church whenever she wanted. When she came, it would be impossible for us to hold service. In the end, as soon as I came out of the Seodaemun Prison, I acceded to their demand and placed my stamp on the divorce document. I was forced to divorce her without being given the opportunity to follow my own principles.

When I think of my former wife today, I feel sorry for her. The influence of her own family, which was strongly Christian, and the leadership of Korea's established churches had much to do with her becoming the way she did. She was so tough before we married, and the way she changed is a lesson on how much we need to fear the power of social prejudice and established concepts. I experienced the sorrow of divorce and of being branded a heretic.

But I did not bend in the least These were things that I had to endure on my path to redeem the original sin committed by Adam and Eve and move forward on the path toward God's Kingdom. It is darkest before th dawn. I overcame the darkness by clinging to God and praying to Him Other than the very few hours I would spend in sleep, so much of my time was spent in prayer.