I was born in a rural town and grew up there until I graduated from a junior high school. My parents were farmers and devoted their whole lives to farming. When I lived in the hometown, I helped my parents’ farming, collecting tomatoes, egg plants, cucumbers, potatoes, watermelons, and strawberries, etc. They were pure, diligent, innocent people without knowing how to cheat, lie, and steal.
After the junior high school, I moved into a bigger city for a high school. Until the junior year of high school, I was never exposed to church and the gospel. During the senior year, one of my friends invited me to his church which was performing a talent show near the Thanksgiving Day. To a boy from a rural town, that was an amazing experience. WOW! Students of my age were performing funny shows at a huge church! I’ve never seen such a thing in my life! Since then, I became curious about church.
For a higher education, I moved into Seoul, the capital city of Korea, and studied economics at Yonsei University. During that time, student demonstrations were rampant against the tyrannies by the dictatorial regime. Such demonstrations interrupted campus activities considerably, and a few student activists were imprisoned for their leadership against the regime. Some churches were imbued with social justice movement, embraced leftist ideologies (e.g., liberation theology), and even led anti-government movements. As such, some churches did not provide a good social environment to pursue the biblical truth and meet Jesus genuinely.
Out of pure curiosity, I voluntarily started attending a church from the freshman year and read the Bible regularly alone. I struggled to accept the message from the Bible that I am a sinner and need to repent for salvation. The claims in the bible did not make much sense to me. I practiced religious activities at church, but was not successful in obtaining sound faith. Also, partly because of such social and religious movements, it was not easy for me to meet a spiritual mentor who would lead me to the truth.
One significant event took place to my family when I was a college junior. My mother experienced maldigestion for a few months and was eventually diagnosed with stomach cancer. She struggled over a year, accepted Jesus during the struggle, and in the end passed away with severe pain. Meanwhile, the family members tried their best to rescue her, including attending church and praying hard. After the passing of my mother, I left church with deep sorrow thinking God does not exist or does not care for my family.
After the graduation from the college, I joined the military, which is mandatory for all Korean males. After the initial training period of three weeks, I was introduced to someone who helped me dispatched to a special force in the army. After this arrangement, he invited me a church. Without hesitation, I accepted his invitation, and finally came back to church. I cannot describe enough how much mental distress I experienced after the death of my mother. In retrospect, I interpret this invitation as a calling by God to rescue me out of the troubles through his grace and lead to the truth.
After this comeback, I accepted Jesus as my God and savior, and got baptized in a year. Since then, I have never deviated from this faith, and God has blessed me and my family abundantly. All the tears I shed because of my parents are gone with the grace of God, and past events haunt me no more. When my mother was sick and close to death, she said to me:
“I did not do anything wrong in my life, but then why am I having this trouble?”
This is true. My parents were farmers, and they were not involved in any wrongdoing. They were innocent, but this does not mean they were righteous in the sight of God. We have to realize one important fact that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Rom 3:23). Thus, whatever we do, our acts cannot satisfy God. But, here is good news: the righteousness of God is revealed through Jesus, and we can acquire that righteousness through faith in Jesus Christ (Rom 3:21-22). This righteousness is available to all who believe in the name of Jesus.
I now live a transformed life. I like to be recognized as someone who is faithful, trustworthy, true, content, and peaceful. I like to exercise integrity, diligence, and generosity. I want to feed those who are in hunger, comfort those who are mourning, encourage those who are in distress, and guide those who need directions for accomplishing their goals.