By Chul Hee & Hye Sook Choi, KOREA
Although we come from a similar religious background, we came to know our Lord in different ways and through different circumstances.
Hye Sook: I had a very happy childhood. I was allowed to attend mission schools from elementary through university. I went to Sunday school every Sunday until I entered middle school. After that, my father, a Confucian leader, did not allow me to continue attending. Although he was not a believer in Christ, my father, a surgeon, was a very generous man. After the Korean war, I recall seeing lines of patients waiting to see him for medical treatment. When any could not afford to pay, he cared for them free of charge.
My mother, at ages seven and eight, attended a school begun by the first Methodist missionary to Korea. She also studied the Bible in her early years, but later followed her family into Buddhism.
Chul Hee: I am the first-born son in a traditional Confucian family. My father, a principal in an elementary school, was a Confucian leader. My mother worshiped in the Buddhist temple. None of us six children (three boys and three girls) heard the gospel message as children.
Hye Sook: After I was married, I followed my mother-in-law, a strong Buddhist. Even though I had everything any woman desires, my heart was empty and uneasy. After delivering my second son, my body and mind became weaker and weaker. I had lost the purpose for living and began to search for truth and completeness.
During that time, I had a vivid dream of Jesus which I recall to this day. In the dream I was sitting with several women. One of the women said, “Jesus came to this world and to our country.” I didn’t believe her and I laughed. But Jesus appeared some distance away. He came near us, but passed us and went away.
My heart trembled and I called to Him silently, “Come to me if you are the Son of God. If you can hear my voice, come to me.” He turned to me and looked into my eyes. I tried to avoid His gaze but I couldn’t. I began to cry. He held my hand and cried with me. I said, “Jesus, Lord, I am a sinner. Forgive my sin.”
He answered, “I have already forgiven you.” I asked Him what I could do not to commit any more sin and He said that He and His Father in Heaven will take care of me. I said, “Jesus, I want to go to heaven right now,” but He told me not to say “now.” Then I woke up.
After the dream I began to read the Bible and it seemed I could find Jesus in every verse. When I read Gen. 3:21, “The Lord God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them,” I remembered the Bible stories I had heard in Sunday school. I felt in my heart that probably sheep were sacrificed to clothe Adam and Eve. In the New Testament, Jesus, the Lamb of God became a sacrifice for us to cover our sin and shame.
I was afraid when I realized I was a sinner. I took a notebook and wrote out the subjects of my sins; they were enough to fill six pages.
I took the notebook and went to our Prayer Mountain (a place where Christians gather for prayer). I confessed my sins beginning at five years of age. While I was praying, I had an amazing experience of praying in tongues like the people in Acts chapter two—even though I had not yet read about it. I also had the great joy of God’s forgiveness in my heart.
As soon as I believed in Jesus, I was troubled by my mother-in-law. She did not want me to go to church. Every Saturday and Sunday she came to our house to watch me. But I never wavered. I knew why she could not accept me, so I just prayed for her. I also prayed for my husband’s salvation.
One day in the early morning service, the Lord spoke to my heart that my husband would be saved. From that time I prayed he would become an elder in the church, even though he had never stepped into a church.
Chul Hee: When my wife accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, no one in the house of her parents or my parents believed in Jesus. I was 30 years old and had not heard the gospel message. When my wife began to attend church, I was not against it. The opposition came from my parents and relatives because I was the eldest grandson and would follow my father in making sacrifices to ancestors.
My mother persecuted my wife for two years, but Hye Sook did not give up church attendance. Eventually my mother told me to divorce my wife. The problem was very serious. I felt the distress between my wife and my mother. Finally, I decided the only way to solve the problem was to go to America to study. I can see now that God gave me wisdom at the time.
Just before we left for America, I visited the church my wife attended. It is the largest church in the world. I just wanted to see the church because I had never been in one.
At the end of the worship the pastor said, “Would you stand up if you want to receive Jesus as your Savior for the first time.” Of course, I didn’t stand up. I came to the church just as an observer. Then the pastor said, “There are 12 more people who should stand up now. If you don’t, you may never have another opportunity to receive Jesus again.” My wife poked me and I stood up right away. I felt as if somebody powerfully lifted me up.
Because I knew nothing of the Word of God and did not understand anything about the church, I got very angry on the way home. I told my wife that the pastor threatens people, and that is wickedness. I added that it must be the way he gets church members. But my wife said she never heard him talk like that before.
I began to collect many tape recordings of that pastor’s sermons to see if he threatened people like that in his other sermons. But I couldn’t find any. From that day I began to attend church with my wife. I also began attending the men’s group meeting. The group leader came nearly every day to visit and pray with me. He explained that our salvation is through Jesus Christ and that ”there is no other name under heaven whereby we must be saved.” So I was hearing for the first time that Jesus, God’s Son, came to this earth to reconcile men to God by becoming a sacrifice for their sins.
I was very impressed with the group leader as a person. When one of the group members was sick in the hospital, he visited him daily and went to the Prayer Mountain for three days to pray and fast for the sick man.
All the men in the group meeting were also praying for me. During one meeting as they gathered around me to pray, I began to weep and almost fell down. I repented of my sins and asked God’s forgiveness. I invited Jesus Christ into my heart and life.
Shortly after I accepted Christ as Lord and Savior, I took my family to the U.S.A. for graduate studies and to get my wife away from my mother. Because we were very poor, we had a hard life the two and one-half years we were in America. But we were very happy because our family could go to church freely. God blessed us during our stay and gave us His grace and miracles.
I began to study my Bible in the U.S.A and did my best to witness to many Korean students. Five of us Christian families formed a Korean church in that American city, and I faithfully invited students to church. We prayed that the church would be a church for students. Recently when in America for further training, we visited that Korean church. It now has a congregation of 100, most of whom are Korean students.
We returned to Korea after graduate studies and I joined a small company. I had many business trips to foreign countries. I always sought out Christian workers in those countries. Sometimes I did errands for them. I traveled to one closed country many times. I delivered many Bibles secretly every time I went there. Since that time, the country has opened up to the outside world and many Korean workers are now working there.
Hye Sook: After we returned to Korea, I felt led by God to teach the Word of God to one woman. She accepted Jesus Christ as her Savior and asked me to teach her friend. In time she brought several friends until 50 people were coming to our Bible study. My husband was concerned that I was teaching and had no training myself, so he advised me to study at a Theological Seminary. When I finished my studies, the Lord led me to work with an agency that sends workers abroad. I served in their home office for five years. The Lord also blessed me in seeing my mother-in-law come to Christ ten years before she died. She really repented and apologized to me. She died very peacefully.
Chul Hee: About ten years ago, my wife and I got involved with another Christian agency that wanted to establish a home base in Korea. Since I knew many people, we formed an interim committee. Through the monthly prayer meetings, my wife and I gradually got to know the agency and got more and more involved.
For a long time I had planned to go as as a Christian worker when I reached the age of 53. But I was the chief executive officer (CEO) of the company where I was employed, and I could not resign at that age. Christian friends who felt strongly that I should be in Christian service full-time, promised to pray for me. Surprisingly circumstances in my employment changed, and I resigned as CEO at the end of last year.
My wife and I have since visited many Christian workers serving in foreign countries. We have decided to devote our remaining years to helping young Christian workers and the agency. To do that effectively we felt we should receive the same training the young people do. Studying at our age is not easy, but we know God has transformed our lives for His purpose. We want to fulfill that purpose.
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