Hero of the Faith (a true story)
by Christine Rhee
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TongPyon, South Korea
He was only fourteen when he stopped bowing down to worship his ancestors according to family tradition. He had put his faith in the God who said, "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me."
He dreaded returning home after his absence from the Moon Festival.
His father and eldest brother were waiting for him when he arrived. The boards slammed against his fingers, his arms, his legs, his ribs, as they shouted at him. "How DARE you scorn our forefathers and bring shame upon our family! Where do you come from without the ancestors?! You are no longer one of us!"
Battered and bleeding, inside and out, he rasped, "The true and living God says to worship him and Him, alone."
They dared not strike him again, lest they kill him. They walked away in disgust.
Tears pouring down their cheeks, his mother and sisters cleansed his wounds and bound his broken bones, hoping against hope that he had finally learned his lesson.
But the scene was repeated time after time, until at the age of seventeen, he contracted Tuberculosis.
He was twenty-two when he finally won his battle with death.
His parents did not know what to do with this stubborn son, whom they loved so much, but who had brought so much shame upon their family.
A desperate act of love, his father sold the family home, took up a tenancy, and sent his wayward son to America, to Bible College.
He was thirty-one when he learned his father was at death's impending door.
His heart deeply burdened, he arrived at his father's bedside. "Father, won't you please believe in Jesus?" he pleaded.
His blood boiling with rage, the dying man nearly leapt from his mat as he ordered his son from the room.
But two hours later, he changed his mind and called out, "I was wrong, my son. You are not crazy. Please help me to believe in Jesus."
One by one on that cold, winter's evening, they climbed the steps to their father's house, barely containing their fury.
A collective force of gnashing teeth, they met him head-on. "How DARE you come here to make trouble while our father is dying? Go back to America where you belong!"
He was forty-four when he brought his family with him to celebrate his mother's eightieth birthday.
No longer accustomed to the Lunar Calendar, he had not realized that the anniversary of his father's death would fall during their visit. That is, not until his eldest sister came to see them.
She brought food and gifts for his family. Then, she entreated him, "Won't you join us as we worship Father this year?"
His head knew the answer his heart did not want to give.
How long would he have to endure this chasm between himself and his siblings? How long would he have to feel as if he were bringing shame upon his family? How long before he would once again experience the warmth and emotional connection he'd known as a child?
His soul in turmoil, he could not sleep. His wife found him in the kitchen, his Bible open on his lap, his head bowed in prayer.
At 10 PM, all the relatives planned to meet with his father's ghost.
He and his family would not be there. They would stay in a motel.
As they left, they met his younger brother's family, arriving with food for the shrine.
"We prayed at Father's grave this morning," he explained.
"You have done well," his brother replied.
But in his heart, he could feel the emotional beating determined for him by his elder siblings.
He continues to pray for mercy for his family, that he might some day go to plant a church in his home village.
Fighting on his knees and standing for the Lord, he is a hero of the faith.
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As always, you reached my heart. It helps me see that I have gone through nothing compared to this young man. It makes me realize that we are truly blessed here in the states to be able to worship openly and freely. I thank you very much for your stories. I followed without any problem. As usual, I have nothing but praise for you in sharing this with us. Your sister in Christ, Mamie
Note from the author: I would highly value any constructive feedback people might have to offer. For instance: *how is the flow from on section of the story to the next? Any suggestions for how to make these transitions smoother? *are there any sections that are "told" too much, need more "showing"? *Does the reader have all the necessary facts? Are you left wondering about anything? For the story of how this young man's mother became a Christian, please see "Omani Accepted" It happened when he was 36.