First, let me thank you in advance for reading my long winded story. My name is Travis I’m 27, college educated and I live in Los Angeles, I am a public servant in the technical field and although I am not a Christian nor am I affiliated with any organized religion I have a profound faith that God exists and works in all of our lives.
My story begins last year around this time when I rekindled a friendship with a beautiful and intelligent girl, let’s call her Tammy. Tammy and I worked together a year earlier and lost touch for many months she had since moved to a different project as a consultant. We met for dinner last year almost exactly a year ago today, we immediately had chemistry. Not much time passed before we were meeting each other three to four times a week. By Valentine’s Day we were a committed couple. Everything was going great during the winter and spring. I had never been happier.
We began talking about long term plans, she suggested that she move to LA, at the time she was working as a consultant during the week in LA and going back home to the Bay Area for the weekends. Time passed and our love grew. But little did we know in our blinded state that all good things come to an end.
At the end of summer her father died the same day her sister gave birth to her first son. I never understood why she felt so bad for him, he beat her mother and abandoned the family while they lived in South America when she was only 5. But like I said her heart was big. Weeks later in September her sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor and Tammy returned home to take care of her sister’s infant and was staffed locally in the Bay Area. Her sister began to recover but still to this day is far from 100%. The day she left LA I took her to Venice Beach and pointed to a ocean front mansion and asked her if I bought you that house (a house we both admired since the beginning of our relationship) would you marry me? She answered, “I would marry you even if you lived on the street.”
When she moved home she began to attend church three times a week and I felt that we grew apart. The distance was destroying our relationship. Over the next three months we faced many difficulties. I prayed and meditated on the relationship. I decided to leave my well paying job, my friends and family to move to be in the same city as her.
I told her early last month in December that I would drop everything to be with her. I thought that she was going to be happy, but rather she answered, does this mean you want to marry me? I said yes eventually we will be married and I will get a job and buy a house and we will be happy. She said that if I were to marry her I must have Salvation, I must be born again. I asked where this came from, why all of a sudden was this an issue?
I explained to her my secular beliefs that all religion is about man seeking God, that each man chooses his own path to have that relationship. Muslims, Christians, Buddhist each believe they have the truth, and it is possible that each is right in their own heart and God may love each of then for they are seeking love and Truth.
She insisted that I seek a Christian Salvation. I told her ok, I love you so much that I will try. She gave me a book called Born Again the Secret of Forgiveness and Salvation written by Pastor Ock Soo Park. I put the book down and began reading the Bible instead. I told her I will read the bible so I can have fresh eyes and not have it be an interpretation of another man.
I read the New Testament and also Genesis and Exodus. Last week over the Holidays we discussed the possibility of converting. I explained to her that Christianity sounds like a good religion and I might be for me, but I wanted to choose a path for myself, I wanted to choose the church I attend. She insisted that I attend her church and began to cry, and rambled on about the blood of Christ washing away our sins and that we need never ask for forgiveness if we have truly reached salvation. This all sounded very odd coming out of Tammy’s mouth, she is generally a clear person. All of this sounded both jumbled and oddly rehearsed. She further explained to me that many churches teach the wrong things about repentance and that it is an insult to Christ if we ask forgiveness of our sins.
I said let’s act rational, let’s compromise. I will attend church but a church of my choice that is already asking a lot of a guy who watches football on Sunday morning. She insisted that I attend the her Church the Good News Mission. I had already gone to one of their sermons two weeks earlier and I had a gut feeling that things were a little weird but I attributed that to it being a Korean church and me being unfamiliar with their cultural idiosyncrasies. She pleaded with me that all I had to do was go and listen to the Word, so I said fine I will go and listen at the LA chapter but I don’t want to go to church with your mother and sisters in the Bay Area because they put too much pressure on me and I feel that I do not have an open heart under such circumstances.
When I returned to LA last week Wednesday I went to the Good News Mission (GNM) located in Korea Town off of Vermont Ave to speak to the Pastor and introduce myself and my situation. After explaining all that I explained here I asked him two questions. First what would you advise for a man in my shoes and second is this church the only path to salvation?
He answered the first question with a vague story about a pastor in the GNM who had a stomach ulcer who had faith in God and God healed it. And he answered the second question with, some churches do have the Word but we know for sure that we have the Word here. I was unsatisfied with my answers but thought I was possibly asking the wrong questions so I asked if he had any reading material that could clear things up. He gave me the Born Again book, I already had that one so I just left and told him that I would see him on Sunday.
I left feeling a bit uneasy. I met a Korean friend of mine later that evening and told him about the church. I asked him to please find out what he could about the church for there is little reading material in English online. He got back to me last Thursday and to my absolute shock and sadness he said that the Good News Mission was a cult that has been deemed a cult in Korea since 1985.
I was completely alarmed by this. I began to research Pastor Ock Soo Park and the Good News Mission. I could find just a few things including a short thread on this forum.
This past weekend I spoke to an African Episcopalian pastor, a Korean Presbyterian pastor and a American Baptist pastor for their advice. This is what they said:
African Episcopalian Pastor: Take a step back, forget about the label cult, is this the way you want to live? Is this something you want your kids to be subjected to?
Korean Presbyterian Pastor: Run away leave the girl, this is dangerous, you are caught in the middle of a spiritual war that you are unprepared to fight. God does not want to loose another one of his flock.
American Baptist Pastor: Do not be alarmed by the fact the Good News Mission does not ask for forgiveness. Be alarmed if they believe that theirs is the only path to salvation. I will pray for you, I’m sorry I could not be of more help.
I spoke to Tammy last night. My guess is that she knows that I know something because I told her I was consulting with may different pastors about converting. She said she was speaking to her Pastor about this relationship. She said that her church does not encourage dating but rather they partner members up together in arranged marriages. She explained that the pastor introduces you to a man of similar age within the church and they meet for 5 minutes. After if you feel okay with it, their parents meet and the union is made within the church shortly there after. Her mother does not approve of this relationship her church does not approve of this relationship. She was sobbing to me last night saying how difficult a situation she is in, how confused she was, she said she loves me but if we are going to be together she must forsake the blessing of her church and her mother who are trying to make her do an arranged marriage.
I’m loosing control of the situation, maybe I never did have control. I pray that this relationship was not an illusion. I feel embarrassed for myself, sad for her most of all, and heartbroken over this relationship that was once so beautiful. I love Tammy and want dearly for this relationship to workout but hope is fading.
My questions to you out there:
Is this church really a cult? There is much debate over this and still no definitive answers. It might just be a very conservative group of misunderstood Christians.
Do you know anyone who left this church? I would like to contact that individual for more information.
Does this church think that it is the only path to salvation?
Does this church think that most non-Good News Christians are going to hell?
Do people in this church regard Pastor Ock Soo Park as a Prophet?
Is there any governing body or is this church a dictatorship?
Is there any thing that you can suggest in coping with a person who is in a cult?
I need more information about this group, please help anything would help at this point. Thank you again for reading this testimony.