I joined a gang while in school
Hi, my name is Im Jin Ju, and I am from the Opera Department. When I was young, I was a little special.
I have older sisters and used to steal their clothes and wear them. That’s why I stood out to other people. Because of that, I drew the attention of the seniors at my school and they frequently approached me to join their gang. As soon as I entered middle school, the seniors followed me everywhere and even kept coming to my classroom for a year, and there were always letters from them on my desk at school.
Since the senior classmates were constantly pressuring me, saying, “You have to join the gang,” and kept chasing after me for a year, I started to think that they didn’t look too bad after all. Because I was immature back then, hanging out in a large group looked cool to me. So from then on, I started to hang out with them.
“Hey, I heard that she gets on people’s nerves.”
All this happened when I became a sophomore in middle school. The senior students liked me, and I became popular among classmates and even at other schools. Naturally, I came into a position where I could call a fight.
If I said, “Hey, I heard that she gets on people’s nerves,” then my gang members went up to that person and beat her up. In this way, I was very consistent with my role, which was being a gang leader at school. I kept smoking for four years, always went to fights with my gang members, and later on, all the people at student council knew my name.
Despite that, it was so fun for me to hang out with my gang members and other friends. Even though I felt so empty after hanging out with them, the fun returned every time I hung out with them. That’s why I couldn’t cut them off.
For a year, I kept being sent to the principal’s office, and since I smoked and was caught smoking, I was suspended and performed community service many times. There were a couple of times when I was caught by the police when I was loitering and drinking with my gang members at night.
My parents frequently came to pick me up from school, home, or elsewhere, and they wrote statements for all sorts of reasons. Since there were always kids gathering and fighting, many police officers came, and so I was called to this place and that place. It was fun for me, but gradually I started to have a hard time and suffer.
I met God
At that time, since I was so distressed, I drank more and fought more alongside my gang members. From then on, I had nothing to fear, so even when a person made eye contact with me on the street, I fought. When I was living in distress like that, my older sister told me, “Hey, why don’t you come to church again?”
At that time, I was a junior in middle school and I didn’t care about anything. I felt like nothing would change even though I went to church, and I didn’t have big expectations from church since I had not been a believer. So about for a year, I went to church on and off.
But then, one day, the Word started to penetrate deeply inside my heart. It was the Word that Pastor Jung Myung Seok was delivering, and that Word started to stay in my brain. My heart started to move little by little.
I started to stay away from bad things, and Pastor Jung told me that if I stayed close to God, my life would change. Also, whenever I wanted to hang out with my gang members and was tempted by the thought that I wanted to be around them, he wrote me letters, called me, and educated me.
Pastor Jung said, “There are so many problems like that among kids your age,” and added, “The strength you need in order to overcome this right now is to really love God at this time. Love Him like a man next to you.” He really educated me. He gave me a practical education about living. So I, who did not previously have faith, came to realize, “God is alive. God is really next to me,” through Pastor Jung.
I thought that the Word was so powerful because, at that time, I still liked hanging out with my gang members. I felt empty, but I had not thought about leaving the gang.
However, at the stage when I was really into the gang, Pastor Jung pulled me away from it. When I questioned, “Where did the power come from that saved me from my deepest turmoil?” I realized, “This Word is the Word from God.” This realization came to my mind a while later.