Paying the Ultimate Price to Follow God's Path

As soon as I was released from Seodaemun Prison, I went to the Gabsa Buddhist temple on Mt. Gyeroung in Choong-cheong Province. I needed to heal the wounds from my torture in Seodaemun Prison. Also, I needed a forest where I could pray and think about the future of our church. This was not long after the end of the Korean War, and just finding enough food to survive was often a difficult task. In spite of such short term difficulties, however, it was important that I make plans for the longer term. We still did not have a church large enough to hold all our members for service, but I felt it was important to spend some time looking out into the distant future.

Following the collapse of Japanese colonial rule and the liberation of Korea in 1945, the two countries had not established diplomatic relations. Japan had not recognized the government in Seoul, and Korea considered Japan an enemy country. My belief was that, when the situation of the world was considered, it was important for the two countries to resume contacts. I prepared my plan to carry out evangelical work in Japan, and then called Bong Chun Choi to meet me on the mountain behind the "You need to go immediately to Japan. You won't see Korea again before you die."

These were my first words to him when he arrived. It must have shocked him to hear me speak this way, but he did not hesitate in the least in responding. He simply answered, "Yes!" The two of us then sang the Korean Christian hymn whose words begin: Called of God, we honor the call; Lord, we'll go wherever you say.

We came down the mountain together in high spirits. He never asked how he was supposed to support himself in Japan or how he was supposed to begin his activities there. Bong Chun Choi was that kind of audacious man.

It took Bong Chun Choi three years, until 1958, to establish himself in Japan, and it required that he put his own safety at considerable risk. Korea and Japan would not establish diplomatic relations for another seven years. In fact Korea, because the painful memory of suffering under Japan's colonial rule was still quite fresh, was rebuffing any suggestion that it open contacts with Japan. I had our missionary smuggle himself into this enemy country for the sake of Korea's future. Instead of refusing all contact, Korea needed to evangelize Japan so that it would be in the position to be the senior partner in the bilateral relationship. Korea was impoverished materially, so it needed to open a channel to the Japanese leadership, put Japan on its side and then link itself to the United States.

That was how Korea could survive. As a result of the successful effort to send a missionary to Japan, owing to Bong Chun Choi's sacrifice, an exceptional youth leader named Osami Kuboki joined the church, together with a group of you young people who followed him. The Japanese  church became securely established as a result of their work.

We sent missionaries to America in the following year. There was no smuggling this time. They went through legal channels to receive passports, we were aided by some cabinet ministers of the Liberal Party who had played a part in having me imprisoned in Seodaemun Prison. Previously, they had opposed us, but now they were helping us. The United States in those days seemed like a very far off country. Some In our church opposed the idea of sending missionaries there, saying it was more Important to grow our foundation in Korea first. I convinced the members, however, saying that unless America's crisis could be resolved Korea, too, would be destroyed In Jeanuary 1959, we sent Young Oon Kim, one of the professor, who had bin fired by Ewha Womans University. Then in September of that year, we sent David S.C. Kim. They began their work in America that was aimed at the entire world.