IIT UBF - University Bible Fellowship at IIT

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Michael Mark's Engagement Testimony

Author: Michael Mark

Just As Christ Loved the Church

"Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her."
Ephesians 5:25

First and foremost, I thank God for his great grace and favor upon me to be engaged to the most beautiful woman of God in my eyes, the fair and lovely Mary Shim, and to say thank you to all who have made this possible, including Missionaries Daniel and Hannah Shim, Missionaries Deborah and Daniel Yang, Sh. Bob and Julia Henkins, and all of our church elders here who have prayed for us. Thank God you have had the blessing to see God work, and your prayers bear fruit, some even after years of prayers. I cannot express enough, the sheer joy and delight overflowing in my heart at all the good God has done for me, and I am thankful that you can share in my happiness, and I in yours.

I chose Eph 5:25 as my engagement testimony key verse. Though I am not a husband yet, by God's grace, from this day to that, I may train myself to be the kind of husband that the Lord will be pleased with, and I can be that husband by learning and practicing all that Jesus has done for the church. He gave himself up for her. I will share about what Jesus has done for me - that he gave himself for me, and enabled me by his grace to die to my sins. Next I will share about the great favor I have received from the Lord, and finally how in the end he shall be glorified through our house church.

Part I: Christ Gave Himself for Me
I was born January 13, 1982, right here in Chicago, to my mom and dad, Nancy and James Mark. My father had 7 other brothers and sisters, each with 2 or more children, some having their own children already, totaling to over 90 family members belonging to my dad's parents. Though we were not a rich family, we were never a poor family either. My grandfather owned a restaurant and all of his children grew up prosperously in America. Many of my aunts and uncles went into successful careers, and their children, my cousins, were very "Americanized" -- they were very hip, cool and stylish, I wanted some day to be just like them.

So as I grew up, I worked hard to be smart and popular. In class I was always the class clown and I loved the attention, then after school I would spend hours in the library and study diligently at home. In 5th grade I began to see the fruits of my efforts, as I won Student of the Year that year, recited a 93-line speech by Dr. Martin Luther King and sang the National Anthem in front of the entire school. The seeds of pride began to sink in, and my popularity began to go to my head. By the time I was in 8th grade, my philosophy of life was, "Just be yourself," with the same "Do whatever you wanna do" attitude.

When I was a freshman in high school, I was fished by Dr. William Shin at the Harold Washington Library. It was through him, I was introduced to Bible study, and I loved it! I ate it up, soaked it all in, and even asked him on one occasion to study with me twice a week! However, the "Just be yourself" mentality still remained with me, and while I was a professing Christian, I began to date girls for the enjoyment of a relationship simply because I felt I could do whatever I want. I abused his grace, and as a result my heart was broken over and over again. I was like the Samaritan woman Jesus met at the well. During this time I looked like a dead man walking in the church, and some of you may remember that time.

After graduating college, I got a job as a traveling consultant, which made good money, and on top of that, they would pay for all my travel, hotel and meal expenses when I went out of town. Though God blessed me, I continued to live in sin. I would go out drinking several nights a week, and in my hotel room secretly indulged in lust through the internet. After a couple years of this, God convicted me of my sin and made me realize how I had abused his grace for so long by living a double life. He helped me remember that I had brothers and a ministry to take care of back home. He also convicted me of my slavery and bondage to lust. I felt like I had to come home in order to set things right, and when the time came, I left my traveling job to come back home.

I came back home in March 2008, but I still had to deal with my sin. I grieved and lamented over the fact that I could not overcome my lust, and wondered if anyone ever could. This revealed my lack of faith in God. Finally in 2009, by the grace of God I died to myself and made myself accountable to Sh. Bob for my sins of drinking, smoking and lusts. By bringing these out, I denied my right to indulge secretly in such things. Slowly God began a work of transformation in me, and I can say confidently now that I have overcome my sins of drinking and smoking. By God's grace I can also proclaim victory over my sins of lust, and I can confidently say I have overcome the bondage to lust that had its claim on me for more than 10 years. Jesus' death on the cross saved me.

Part II: God's Favor in My Life
I heard that in 2007, when we first started having independent worship service at IIT, people were praying about my marriage. I must admit in 2007 I was not ready, nor did I feel ready. In my mind, I felt like I wanted to grow some more, but also, I wanted to indulge in the sinful life. But perhaps God had other plans for me. Knowing I was not faithful to him, he did not allow me to enter into any commitment - but through this period of waiting I think he was preparing me. I had a few more years to work and grow professionally, and during this time I was promoted 3 times in 2 years. When I traveled, all my living expenses were paid, so I was also able to save some money. And also, by God's grace I have a job so that I might also provide for my wife. Most of all, during this time he cleansed me of my sin and grew me in the image of Jesus by his grace and leading, molding me into a suitable helper for my suitable helper.

So when the time was right, God formed my suitable helper within my ribs, in my heart. Last year, we went white water rafting for summer conference, and in order to balance out the strength mostly men were paired up with women and children. I was paired up with Mary, though at the time I thought nothing of it. Then, towards the end of one of the rapids, Mary fell in the water, and it was pretty deep. I saw her struggle to get back on the boat and I wanted to jump in to save her. She managed to grab onto the boat, and I was able to pull her back in, but it took all my strength because we were moving so fast. I pulled her in, and she landed in my arms, and I think suddenly I was awakened to the fact that I really wanted to care for her. Of course, after a couple minutes I went back to the back of the boat and tried to play everything off.

But after that, something changed. Everytime I saw Mary now she would become more and more beautiful to me. I noticed how she played piano for worship service. I noticed how she shared testimonies at Friday meetings. I noticed how she sometimes laughed at my jokes. And then I noticed her character. She was so sweet, so gentle, so humble, so quiet. Not only that, but she loved God and served him faithfully. It was then I realized, oh how I would like to marry a girl like that. I asked Sh. Bob in the middle of October if Mary was spoken for, fearing that she was. To my excitement, she was available - and I was anxious for him to ask Msn. Deborah to ask her.

As it was, God does not let a good thing come easy. Week after week I was disappointed because Mary was not asked yet, but every day I prayed to the Lord for her, that he would move her heart to say yes to me. But I see during this time he was shaping a great big space in my heart for her. After more than 6 grueling weeks of prayer, God had given me the greatest blessing of my life. After Friday meeting, in a little room in the E1 building at IIT, there sat Sh. Bob, Msn. Daniel and Msn. Deborah - and the answer to my heart's prayer - sweet and precious Mary, beautiful as ever, sitting across the table, probably wondering what she's getting into. Mary too, was put to the test - a test that was harder than mine. She was asked if she would marry anyone by faith, and she said yes. When I heard this, I thought to myself, what an amazing woman of faith God had prepared for me!

Part III: A House Church for His Glory
What an amazing thing God has done for me! Proverbs 18:22 says, "He who finds a wife finds what is good and receives favor from the Lord." Who am I, that God should favor me? A sinner bent on his own way, God saved me from my sin, gave me grace and power to overcome, and now, he has granted me favor by letting me find a wife, one who I believe with all my heart is in every way perfect for me. Praise God for all the good he has done for me! When I look at Mary, what I see is a sign of God's favor on me.

And so I chose for this testimony Eph 5:25 "Husbands love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her." Jesus laid his life down for me and saved me. By the grace of God may I lay down my life for Mary. Though I may not be called to death as it were, I have learned that I must still die to self for her. I must not be selfish, nor insensitive, nor over-bearing, but I must love her as myself. Here is what the old English preacher John Gill says about this verse:

Gill on Ephesians 5:25: Husbands, love your wives, "Which consists in a strong and cordial affection for them; in a real delight and pleasure in them; in showing respect, and doing honour to them; in seeking their contentment, satisfaction, and pleasure; in a quiet, constant, and comfortable dwelling with them; in providing all things necessary for them; in protecting them from all injuries and abuses; in concealing their faults, and covering their infirmities; in entertaining the best opinion of their persons and actions; and in endeavoring to promote their spiritual good and welfare: this love ought to be hearty and sincere, and not feigned and selfish; it should be shown in private, as well as in public: it should be chaste and single, constant and perpetual; it should exceed that which is bore to neighbors, or even to parents, and should be equal to that a man bears to himself; though not so as to hinder, and break in upon love to God and Christ: many are the reasons why husbands should love their wives; they are given to be helps unto them; they are companions of them; they are wives of covenant; they are their own wives, yea, their own bodies, their own flesh, nay, as themselves; they are their image and their glory; and especially the example of Christ, in his love to his church and people, should engage to it:

And as Eph 5:26 continues: "to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word." I want to share everything with Mary, I want to share my life with her, and I want all I have to be hers as well. May we both grow in the word of the Lord, so that we might be like Priscilla and Acquila, who in Acts 18:26b reads: "When Priscilla and Acquila heard him, they invited him to their home and explained to him the way of God more adequately," and in Romans 16:3-5, Paul commends them "Greet Priscilla and Aquila, my fellow workers in Christ Jesus. They risked their lives for me. Not only I but all the churches of the Gentiles are grateful to them. Greet also the church that meets in their house." Just as Christ loved the church, I will love my future wife, and lay my life down for her, so that we may be an image of the kingdom of God here on earth, giving glory and honor to his name, and being used to accomplish his will.

I would like to thank Msn. Daniel and Hannah Shim, for raising such a beautiful and godly woman, and for accepting me to be your future son in law. I promise to take good care Mary with all of my heart as long as I shall live and forever more. Thank you to Msn. Daniel and Deborah Yang, who have been praying for us day and night, and training Mary in righteousness. Thank you to Sh. Bob and Julia Henkins, who also prayed for us and helped set my paths straight and helped me turn from sin. I also thank all of the elders, who I know have been praying for us, some for quite some time, and a thank you to Wright and IIT coworkers for your prayers, friendship and support throughout the years.

To God who loves the church and gave us his Son, be glory forever and ever through Jesus Christ! Amen.

OW: Just as Christ Loved the Church.

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