"My Handong Life", by Munezero Nathan
Greetings! My name is MUNEZERO NATHAN. I am from Burundi, a very beautiful country in Central-East Africa. I was born in a family of six children. My family is one of my greatest gifts from God. They are a tremendous blessing to me. In addition, I’m a graduate of Handong Global University; I just finished my last semester, fall 2014. Because of this, I have mixed feelings. I’m excited about what God is going to do through me next, and at the same time, I do not want to leave this wonderful family: lovely brothers and sisters and great professors.
In this article, I’m going to share a little bit about my Handong life. I have to admit when Pastor Greg asked me to share my testimony, I did not know whether I should say YES or NO. But, whenever I face this kind of situation, I always remember the Bible verse given to me by Pastor Harrison, a YWAM missionary, before going to the Philippines for a mission outreach in 2012. It was 2 Timothy 1:7 “For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline.” Through this verse, I learned that the fear of sharing my testimony, the fear of sharing the gospel doesn’t come from God but from the devil. And that is why I am sharing today, to resist this spirit of fear and talk about what God has done for me at Handong.
I came to Handong, spring 2011. Even though I look like a freshman, I’m actually quite old. I was so excited when I first came to Handong. I knew it was God’s plan. How? Believe it or not, when I was a child, I had a vision that one day I would study in Asia. After the vision, the first country that came to my mind was CHINA. Maybe, it was because CHINA is so well-known in Africa, and many in my country think all Asians are Chinese (sorry to admit this). It’s similar to how many think of Africa as one country (joke). Because of this vision, I kept telling my sisters and friends that, somehow, one day, I would study in China; however, God had a slightly different plan for me.
In my last year of high school, our Korean missionary came to me and shared there was an opportunity to pursue my studies in South Korea. I was so happy to hear this, and when I did, I remembered the vision given to me many years earlier. The only difference was the country. But I was still happy because I thought South Korea was a Christian country and attending a Christian university would allow me to grow spiritually.
When I arrived at Handong, I could tell it was very special. I attended Korean Hanst (Handong Spiritual Training) because, back then, there was no International Hanst. It was a good experience to meet Korean friends, who became my first family in Korea. However, a few days after the beginning of the semester, I experienced my first culture-shock. Living with three people, from different countries, with different cultures, who were older than me, was not easy. I had my first dispute with my Korean Hyung (older brother), who acted very strange towards me. I could not understand him, and I was hurt by his actions. As a Christian, I tried to be patient with him, but it reached a point where I couldn’t handle it anymore. Plus, I was having a hard time in my classes, there was a language barrier, sometimes I felt lonely, and therefore, I thought it was impossible for me to survive.
Then I started asking God, “Why did you bring me here? I had a normal life back home with my family and friends. I had a happy life, so what am I doing here?” I did not get an answer from God. That’s when I started to complain about everything: the Korean culture, cafeteria food, people, etc. I became a big COMPLAINER. My close friends remember this. They tried to encourage me, but I wouldn’t change. Meanwhile, my spiritual life was shaky. At that time, I was a Sunday Christian. I would do my homework late at night on Saturdays, watch movies or waste time on the computer watching Youtube, etc., and then miss Sunday service. I felt like I was wasting time here in Korea. I was not motivated at all. I was free; my parents were not around to discipline me. Thus, I decided to do whatever I wanted, including not going to church and not getting involved in church activities or life groups, which was one of the worst decisions I ever made. Because of this, there was nothing to keep me focused and actively seeking God.
I continued to live this unstable and shaky life throughout my freshman year. But, by God’s grace, I attended my first EHDS (English Handong Discipleship School) spring 2011. In it, I developed a hunger and thirst for God. I wanted to learn more about Him and spend more time with Him. EHDS was the perfect place to stir up my spiritual life. It is a powerful spiritual training, and I want to take this opportunity to recommend it to all who haven’t done it. Think about it, pray about it, and do it this summer. I guarantee you will not regret it.
While in this training, I had the opportunity to talk with Pastor Chris Harrison, who I mentioned earlier. We talked about my spiritual life, and he told me something I had not considered before. He told me that I wouldn’t grow spiritually if I wasn’t active at church and having fellowship with other brothers and sisters in Christ. I needed people who would help me stand up whenever I fell down. So, he advised me to get involved in church to help me grow spiritually.
After his encouragement and the EHDS training, the next semester, I committed to joining life groups and serving the church, and my life started to change. I realized that I needed to discipline myself and be responsible for my life. In fact, it was during my second year at Handong that God told me the reason why He brought me here. It was so that I could learn “to trust and depend on him.”
With this, I realized two other things. First, when I came to Handong and went through my struggles, I did not fully trust God. I felt like God left me alone and that He wasn’t helping me, which created anger in me towards Him. And this anger affected all my relationships: relationships with teammates, roommates, etc. I began to think there was no point in building relationships with anyone. Second, when I came to Handong, I tried to do everything by my own strength, I was depending on myself too much, which was why I failed and fell down so often.
From these lessons, God taught me that without trusting and depending on him, my life would be messy, it would be chaotic and that’s why I must hold onto Him. He reminded me that He is my rock, my fortress, my Savior, my shield in whom I have protection, as it is written in Psalm 18:2.
After these revelations, my life has continued to change significantly. God is changing me. He walks with me and teaches me new things every day. It’s not that I’m holy now. I sin, I fall down, but God picks me up and washes me, as I depend on him. With God, my life is way better than it was when I was alone. This is why I can be happy today, because God is walking with me and repairing me daily.
Maybe you are wondering why I’m sharing my testimony. The answer is simple. I do not want you to make the same mistakes I did in my first year. As Pastor Rick Warren said so well in this quote: “Experience is not what happens to you. It is what you do with what happens to you. Don’t waste your pain; use it to help others.”
I’m sharing my testimony to challenge you to trust and depend on God. Do not ruin your life by doing whatever you want, in your own way. You will fail, you will do useless things, and you will regret it later. Second, I’m sharing this to encourage you to take advantage of this wonderful community. One of the comments I always hear from friends who graduated from Handong is how awesome Handong is, how I should enjoy it here, and take advantage of the opportunities before I leave.
Today, I’m telling you the same thing. Cherish every single day at Handong! Serve your brothers and sisters as much as you can, get involved in life groups, and church activities. Talk to our awesome professors and pastors, who are always willing to help and counsel you, if you ask. Time flies so fast, take full advantage of this awesome environment! Enjoy your life with others and be happy!
As mentioned, my life in Handong is characterized by mixed feelings, which can be summarized by this statement: “The beginning was awful, but the ending is awesome, by God’s grace. And, I’m so thankful to God for everything.” Whatever your situation, all of us should be thankful to God.
Before I end, I would like to share one of my life verses. Philippians 4:13 says: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me” (NKJV). Do your best in everything and leave the rest to God. He will make you a victor! Thank you for reading my long testimony. May God richly bless you and your time at Handong!