by Christine Rhee
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My husband had been praying for his mother's salvation for the past twenty three years. He had grown up in a traditional Korean village. His entire clan was Confucianist, which meant that they worshipped their ancestors.
When my husband received Christ at the age of 14, his family and relatives beat and shunned him. But he hung onto his faith.
Now, 23 years after his faith journey had begun, our family was on our way to Korea to visit his mother, whom we call Omani.
We had several purposes for the visit. Of course, we wanted to show her our new baby, Jason. And we needed to raise some funds for our ministry to Koreans living overseas. But our dearest hope was to see Omani and other family members come to a saving faith in Jesus Christ.
Omani is the strongest woman I have ever met. She raised eight children in impoverished post-war South Korea. The same age as my grandmother, she can still outwork me any day. I admire her deeply.
She is also very independent. At that time in her life, instead of depending on the support of her grown sons, she was working in a nut factory for just $400 per month.
When we arrived at Omani's home, we were deeply troubled to find her refrigerator was broken. We felt an urgent duty to buy her a new one. But we had been living on a shoestring for months, and only had about $60 ourselves.
Our mission work was and is funded by faith more than anything else, so I went to the Lord in prayer. "Lord, I feel so terrible! Omani can't afford to lend us money. She is just a widow. And I want to be a good testimony. Father, You own the cattle on a thousand hills. Please provide for our needs so we can repay Omani."
Within the first week of our stay in Korea, a church invited me to give a testimony at their Ladies' Bible Study. They surprised me with a love offering of $300--just enough to repay Omani.
When we surprised her with this money, she said, "Where did you get this??
"God gave it to us," we replied. I knew this repayment meant a lot to Omani. She was used to her children and grandchildren taking from her, not giving to her. But it was only right.
However, she still needed to accept Christ, and she still needed a new refrigerator. So we kept on praying.
The day after we repaid our debt to Omani, she allowed us to invite a local pastor and his wife over to her house. Always before, she had walked out if she knew a Christian was coming to visit. But today, she was in a cleaning frenzy, giving me orders left and right as we prepared for the guests.
At one point, Omani disappeared for a little while, and we feared she wasn't going to return. But she came back presently with a huge watermelon and a bottle of rice drink, both costly refreshments in the Korean economy.
I was in the kitchen, praying and preparing the food and drink, while the Korean pastor and his wife were sharing Christ with my mother-in-law. Before I could finish, my husband bid me to join them in the sitting room.
"But the food's not ready yet!"I protested.
My husband put his finger to his lips and motioned for me to come anyway. So I followed him.
I arrived just in time to see Omani bowing her head to pray and accept Christ as her Savior and Lord. And I was thankful!
But Omani still needed a new refrigerator, and so we kept on praying about that, and the answer was soon in coming.
The next evening, we visited another local church. They asked my husband to give a short testimony. After the service, they took up a love offering, and it turned out to be just enough to buy the refrigerator.
When we told Omani it was time to go shopping, she again asked, "Where did you get that money?"
And as before, we replied, "God gave it to us."
God showed his acceptance to Omani by providing for her needs very tangibly. This paved the way for her to go against the tide of tradition and accept Jesus Christ as her own Savior and Lord. Today she is one of the most faithful Christians I know.
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What a wonderful story! You have an awesome testimony! Perhaps time to write a book :) Regards Cori Smelker
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