Very truly I tell you, unless a kernel of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains only a single seed. But if it dies, it produces many seeds. – John 12:24
Love for Country
There is a kind of message that speaks louder than the spoken word and that is a life that is lived in the service of others. In fact, more often than not, a man who has given his life for the noble cause of improving the lives and living conditions of the people around him need not speak much. The actions of such a man is his message, his life is his pulpit.
We live in a day and age where almost everything is instant. We are constantly flooded by images, ideas, and stories that we oftentimes find ourselves confused, flabbergasted, or tired. We tend to focus on the distractions rather than stay on what we are good at – our God-given DNA. The danger of us abandoning who we are in exchange for becoming what others think we should be confronts us each day. To lose who we are amidst a dizzying world would be one of the greatest tragedies of life. To live solely for ourselves amidst a fast-paced, hyper-connected yet hyper-fragmented world is likewise a great human tragedy.
There is more to life than simply adding another line or two to our resumes, life is a fascinating voyage waiting for us to embark on. This voyage is unlike a fairy-tale where every problem is solved and all heroes end up living happily ever after. In fact, one of life’s mysteries is the fact that terminal sickness, death, financial crises, or even prolonged torture during times of war oftentimes lead to new paths strewn with faith, hope, and love. The encouraging words of Tertullian always resonate beautifully every time we are confronted with immense pain. Time and again, we are reminded that “the blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church.”
One man’s story is an excellent example of this truth. Chu Ki-chol, one of the most important pastors in the history of Korea, lived his life with uncompromising faith so that the Korean church will have such a seed. Amidst extreme physical torture from the Japanese, he stayed faithful to the Jesus. Some might say that it would have been easier for him had he simply dropped everything he was fighting for and deny his faith in Jesus. However, Chu Ki-chol believed that momentary pain has no power to make him deny his Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and stop him from leaving a legacy of true, unyielding faith to the Korean church. Chu Ki-chol loved the Lord and also loved the nation that the Lord gave him as his home here on earth. His heart for his nation is best captured by his prayer, “All I wish is that through my death, God will save the Korean church.”
Chu Ki-chol, in fact, died in prison yet his prayer and his faith outlived him. His life indeed became a seed for the Korean church. Decades after his death, Korea became the second largest missionary sending nation in the world and likewise became one of the world’s wealthiest nations. Had Chu Ki-chol listened to the voices around him which told him that it would have been better for him to simply deny his Lord and stop fighting for the future of the Korean church, perhaps things would have been a lot different. Chu Ki-chol, one of the greatest and most important Korean martyrs may have experienced the worst of tortures but his legacy remains as the most important foundations of the Korean church to the present day.