I met Mr. Kim in 1996. That year I left my job and moved to Boston, to attend Boston Baptist College to study for the ministry. For the first semester I was there I lived on campus, in single housing, while working to transition my family to another state. There were only two other students in that wing with me. One of them was Mr. Kim.
Mr. Kim (I don’t remember his first name…and if I did I probably couldn’t pronounce it anyway) was from South Korea. He was in his late 60’s. He was also studying for the ministry. His English was very tortured but he worked at it, and we were able to have several conversations. In fact, we understood each other so well that he thought a cassette of gospel music I loaned him was a gift! It ended up that way…he liked the music so much I didn’t have the heart to ask for it back!
But I digress. Mr. Kim was on a mission. He was in America to learn the Bible, so he could go back to South Korea, illegally cross into North Korea, and start a Christian church. His family, he explained, had been separated when the Korean War broke out. Many he hadn’t seen since. Some were safe in the south, others in the north. His brother, he said, was in the north. North Korea was in “darkness” he explained in his limited English vocabulary and needed a gospel witness. He had been praying for an opportunity to be that witness and maybe help bring North and South Korea together again.
We talked about that for awhile, since I have never–and will probably never–experience that hardship. I told him he could be killed or imprisoned if he did that and was caught. He had a wry grin, the type of grin that suggested he knew that and had planned for it. His was the kind of courage only a man who walks with God has. He could fit in, he said. He was, after all, Korean. He spoke the language, he had family there. God would protect him.
I graduated from Boston Baptist College in 1998. I have not seen Mr. Kim since. But I have thought a lot about him every time talk of peace between North & South Korea comes up in the news. I think about all of those nights I know Mr. Kim was praying (some nights I could hear him, praying in his native tongue) for his family, for his homeland, asking God for a miracle.
I wonder if we are witnessing that miracle and if Mr. Kim made it home, I wonder if he started that church, and I wonder if he became the Christian witness he wanted to be. I read this week that North Korea was going to open its borders to Christianity and facilitate the re-uniting of families (like Mr. Kim’s). I think I found my answer. I hope you’ll pray for Mr. Kim, and others like him, he put their faith and trust in God…and waited patiently for His answer.