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Excerpts from the 2009 autobiography ‘As a Peace-Loving Global Citizen’
Question of the Day
“I am a controversial person. The mere mention of my name causes trouble in the world. I have never sought money or fame but have spent my life speaking only of peace.” [page xi]
Encounter with Jesus
“It was the night before Easter in the year I turned sixteen. I was on Mount Myodu praying all night and begging God in tears for answers. Why had He created a world so filled with sorrow and despair? Why was the all-knowing and all-powerful God leaving the world in such pain? What should I do for my tragic homeland? I wept in tears as I asked these questions repeatedly. Early Easter morning, after I had spent the entire night in prayer, Jesus appeared to me. He appeared in an instant, like a gust of wind, and said to me, ‘God is in great sorrow because of the pain of humankind. You must take on a special mission on earth having to do with Heaven’s work.’
“That morning, I saw clearly the sorrowful face of Jesus. I heard his voice clearly. The experience of witnessing the manifestation of Jesus caused my body to shake violently, like a quaking aspen’s leaves trembling in a strong breeze. I was simultaneously overcome with fear so great I felt I might die and gratitude so profound I felt I might explode. Jesus spoke clearly about the work I would have to do. His words were extraordinary, having to do with saving humanity from its suffering and bringing joy to God.
“My initial response was, ‘I can’t do this. How can I do this? Why would you even give me a mission of such paramount importance?’ I was truly afraid. I wanted somehow to avoid this mission, and I clung to the hem of his clothing and wept inconsolably.” [page 50]
Imprisoned in a North Korean labor camp
“The most valued possession in prison after food was a needle and thread. Our clothes would wear out and be torn during the hard labor, but it was difficult to get a needle and thread to mend them. After a while prisoners began to look like beggars in rags. It was very important to mend the holes in our clothes in order to block, even a little, the cold winter winds. Even if the cloth were covered with cow dung, the prisoners would fight each other to try to pick it up.
“Once as I was carrying the bags of fertilizer I discovered a needle stuck in one of the bags. It must have been left there accidentally when the bag was made. From that time on, I became the tailor of Heungnam prison. It was such a joy to find that needle. Every day I mended pants and knee breeches for other prisoners.” [page 98]
Liberation from the camp by U.S. and U.N. forces
“As the bombing became more intense, guards began executing prisoners. They called out the prisoners’ numbers and told them to come with three days’ food rations and a shovel. The prisoners assumed they were being moved to another prison, but in reality, they were marched into the mountains, made to dig a hole and then killed and buried there. Prisoners were being called out in the order of the length of their sentences, with those with the longest sentences being called first. I realized that my turn would come the next day.
“The night before my scheduled execution the bombs fell like rain in the monsoon season. It was October 13, 1950, and the U.S. forces having succeeded in the Incheon landing, had come up the peninsula to take Pyongyang and were now pressing against Heungnam. The U.S. military attacked Heungnam with full force that night, with B-29 bombers in the lead. The bombing was so intense that it seemed all of Heungnam had been turned into sea of fire. The high walls around the prison began to fall, and the guards ran for their lives. Finally, the gate of the prison that had kept us in that place opened. At around two o’clock in the morning on the next day, I walked calmly out of Heungnam prison with dignity.” [page 104]
On coming to America in the early 1970s
“Soon after I arrived in the United States, I toured the country, speaking on the topics of ‘The Future of Christianity’ and ‘God’s Hope for America.’ In front of large audiences, I spoke out about the weaknesses of America in a way that no one else would.” [page 166]
“I proclaimed that America was founded on the Puritan spirit and had grown to be the strongest country in the world in just two hundred years because it received God’s boundless love and blessing. I reminded the audiences that America’s freedom came from God, but that America had cast God aside. ‘America has a great tradition,’ I said. ‘All you have to do is revive it.’ I went to the United States to reawaken America’s spirit, to save America from destruction, and to urge the American people to repent and return to God.” [page 166]
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