Iam a Korean preacher, preaching the Gospel of Jesus Christ for the last forty years. They certainly were not easy years, but the Gospel has been victorious in Korea and we rejoice in the Lord. The Gospel has always been victorious in Korea, ever since the beginning of the history of Christianity. The Gospel reached Korea about the middle of the 19th Century by means of one copy of the Bible which was smuggled into Korea. The Kingdom of Korea at that time was strongly against the foreign culture and especially the foreign religion. It felt that the infiltration of the foreign religion was not only against the teaching of the ancestors, but also the beginning of the political invasion.
A man called Mr. Sung Hun Lee went to China got hold of the Chinese Bible and read through it. It was so inspiring that he felt that he should study more about it with his friends. He copied some parts of the Bible inside of his coat and smuggled it into Korea. He and some of his friends studied it intensively and later on felt that they should start a church. That's how the first church was started and the persecution started at the same time. Every day, someone was captured, tortured, and put to death on account of their faith. Not only the Christians were killed, but also their families, relatives, and even friends. In fact, according to the Korean history, about 8,000 people were beheaded in the year of 1866. But Christians kept on growing. They increased from one to ten, ten to hundred, hundred to thousands. In fact, later on, there were so many Christians that the persecution had to be stopped. That's how we acquired our first freedom of religion.
And then, there was another kind of persecution. We were under the occupation of Japan for 36 years and, especially when they were fighting against the allied forces, they felt that Christians were more like spies and they tried to destroy Christianity. In fact, my father was the first minister of the Christian churches in Korea and he was imprisoned many times. He was so poor that people called him "Hundred Patches Teacher," but he kept on preaching. He was preaching in the street one time and a Japanese policeman came on his horse and, with his sword, tried to disperse the crowd. My father went to the behind of the horse and shouted, "Believe in Jesus!" He shouted so loud that he surprised the horse, the horse jumped and threw the policeman to the ground. My father was in jail for three days because of that, but he kept on preaching.
He was finally killed by the communists during the Korean War. We don't even know when and where he was killed but, while looking for his body among hundreds of Christian bodies murdered by the communists, I was so impressed by a group of Christians singing, "In the Sweet By and By," that I dedicated my life to Jesus Christ right there, and I have been happy preaching the Gospel for last forty years. We have been convinced that no matter how dark the world may be, the light of the Gospel shall never be put out by the darkness. In fact, before the Korean War, we had only nine churches of Christ. After the war after four years of destruction and persecution, we found 75 churches, more than ten times.
A few years ago the newspaper reported that, after a big flood, a number of Bibles were floating on Imjin River, which starts from North Korea. It means that there are still many Christians in North Korea. They believe in the Bible. After 50 years of persecution, they still believe in the Bible, they read the Bible, they lost the Bible when the flood flushed their houses, but it was inspiring to realize once again that nothing is able to destroy faith, as nothing will be able to destroy God!
I served in the Korean Army as a liaison officer until 1956 and went to the USA to study at Bible colleges. I graduated from San Jose Christian College, Lincoln Christian Seminary, and a few other places for the degrees of B.A., M.A., Th.M., and Th.D. and returned to Korea to work in 1961. I married in 1962 and moved into a slum area called Towon-dong. It was a refugees' town; there were many abandoned children and we started to take care of these children in our home. Also, the town was full of prostitutes and gamblers, and soon our house was also occupied by these people. They were good friends most of the time, but not a few time we were cheated, threatened and robbed.
We started the Bible Correspondence School in 1963 and a Christian magazine called "Hwanwon" (Restoration) in 1964. The correspondence school grew and, at one time, had as many as 2,000 students and also Braille department had 100 blind preachers. The publishing house has published over fourteen books so far, and also God allowed me to start thirteen churches.
Korea Christian Seminary was started in 1965 and, at present, we have over 500 students with 20 full-time and 10 part-time professors. Over 1,500 preachers have graduated and are preaching in every part of Korea as well as in many foreign lands. So far, more than 20 missionaries have been sent out to Africa, the Philippines, Indonesia, Taiwan, Japan, Russia, China, Turkey, Chile, and other parts of the world, and I am proud of every one of them. When these students come to the Bible college they are usually cut off from their families and they have hard time making a living. I had a student in my class who was getting more pale every day. I tried to find out why, and I found that he was selling his blood in order to make tuition to the school. That's how eager they are to preach the Word of God. They are wonderful preachers, too. I teach them what I call "earth worm sermon." It is a kind of sermon that has full sermon no matter where you cut. They say that earth worms can grow again no matter where you cut. We need this kind of sermon in the street preaching. In the streets, you don't have a very good audience. If people like to come to listen, they come and listen. If they don't, they go away without saying good-by or anything. If they really don't 1ike, they come back with rocks or a bucket full of water. So, every phrase, every sentence must be packed with the Christian Gospel in such a way that no matter how much they heard, no matter how much they take home, it will keep on working, and it will grow to full sermons and keep on preaching . . . until it turns souls over for Jesus Christ.
Geon Christian Children's Home was started in 1966. We didn't mean to start this home, but there were children of flood victims, fire victims, and the children of lepers in the streets, with wounds all over their bodies. Some of the first ones were the children whose mother was mentally sick and was throwing the children into fire or water. There was a boy whose brother was frozen to death while they are sleeping in the streets, and a girl whose parents committed suicide by throwing themselves into a well after starving for two weeks, leaving a note saying, "Someone please take care of our daughter, we could not bear to see her starve to death."
So, we started to pick them up from the streets one by one and, before we knew it, we had one hundred children. We don't feed them like millionaires, but we love them and that's what they need. When they came first, they had just about two kinds of sicknesses one of the sicknesses, I call "food-lack-sickness" - children whose legs were twisted by malnutrition, usually with pot-tummies with nothing but air. The other sickness is what I call "love-lack-sickness" - children who have never been loved who don't know what love is. You try to love them, and they stay away from you with doubt and mistrust. Their expressions stay blank for days, weeks, and months. They learned to entertain themselves by scratching their faces until they bleed, or bumping their heads into a wall.
One hundred children, with their two hundred arms and one thousands fingers can devour lots of food. We often run out of food, and we pour some water into the soup. Sometimes, we run out of blankets and we stuff some old newspapers under the blankets, but I am happy to say that we have, now, 76 of the happiest, the healthiest, and perhaps the fattest children in the neighborhood. There are problems, but no problem is too big in the Hand of God. We had a child, an eleven year old girl who was having a problem of wetting beds every night. She also had some brain damage which was a part of her problem and something had to be done. So, some of our dorm mothers and I discussed about it and decided to wake her at four o'clock every morning, take her to the toilet and wait there for thirty minutes. We decided to continue this until we see some kind of result. It was not easy and she struggled not to go out there. Korean toilets are not like yours. They're outside where it's cold, rain, and snow, and she would not do anything out there. Her philosophy was, "Why out here? I can wait until I go back in where there is nice warm blanket." So, she always waited. It took us one hundred and fifty-five days, exactly, until we had some kind of result. After one hundred and fifty-five days, one early morning, one of the dorm mothers came running, shouting, "Father, father, there was something this morning, something beautiful." She was so excited that she couldn't say anything else. So, we all went to see the beautiful thing. It was a great day. It was a day like a birth of a chi1d. In fact, we had a great big party right by the restroom that morning.
We also have been broadcasting Gospel messages, to North Korea as well as China, and we have been holding crusades in many different areas. In the World Evangelization Crusade, a few years ago, we had a crowd of as many as one million people. In the evening, when I spoke, it started to rain, so I said, "Let's all stand up and sing!" And one million people stood up and sang, "Onward Christian Soldiers"!
People are hungry and thirsty after the preaching of the Gospel all over the world. I had a man in my church who was so poor that he had no coat on when he came to church. It was a very cold day and this man was shivering through the service, with only a shirt. I felt so sorry for him that, after the service, I went to him, took off my coat and gave it to him. The next Sunday he came back again without a coat. I was angry, I went to him and asked, "What did you do with the coat I gave you?" He answered, "I had no coat and I had no Bible either." What he meant was that he had no Bible and he wanted the Bible so much that he sold that coat in order to buy a Bible. He had a little New Testament by his side and he said, "I feel warmer with my Bible on." He didn't look very warm, but he looked very happy! That's how hungry they are after the Words of the Lord!
So, we aim to preach this Gospel to the last breath of our lives. I do not know what is going to happen to Korea. Korea is still one of the most explosive countries of the world. But no matter what happens to Korea, I know one thing. I know that Christ's Church will be there always because, like Christ said, "The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it," and you know, no matter what happens to Korea, we will be there preaching the Gospel to the heights of our voices. Please remember us and pray for us. We need your prayers. And we will be praying together, preaching together, and crying together, and someday we all shall be smiling together in the Lord.