The story, an autobiography by Ahn Ei Sook (now Kim), is set in 1940’s Korea, during the Japanese occupation, where Korean Christians were forced to worship Japanese idols and were tortured when they refused. Ahn, a Christian school teacher, refused. When all around her bowed to the shrine, she, like Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, stood tall, refusing to worship an idol. Thus started the journey that would take her to stately homes and prison cells for the sake of the gospel.
What I found refreshing about Ahn’s story was her honesty. I appreciated the candour with which she described her fear, knowing the consequences of what she was about to do. She counted the cost and she knew it would be a hefty sum. But in her fear she ran to the Lord and He comforted her and gave her the strength to do what she needed to. What a lesson to me! I, who often place my comfort and safety ahead of the truth of God have so much to learn from this Korean woman, who must have been a few years younger than me by the time she offered her life to God.
The steadfastness of the Korean church, who worshipped God in difficult times, also touched me. They would often come together to worship in the early hours of the morning, one or two arriving at a time, so that they would not be noticed, and would then worship until before sunrise. Their dependence on God was complete. They prayed incessantly.
What gave me the most hope, though, was the way that Ahn described God’s goodness, faithfulness and justice to her times of desperate need. She tells of prayers answered, promises fulfilled and His use of simple obedience and love.
So: who should read this book? I would recommend it to anybody who struggles with getting to their quiet times – those Koreans are inspiring! I would also recommend it to anybody who would like to know what Christian persecution is like and what a Christian’s response should be. Whether you are called to serve God in a non-Christian workplace or as a missionary in Iran, this will be helpful to all of us who know we should take a stand for God. Lastly, I would recommend this book to anybody who is struggling with where God is in the midst of our persecution. It does not give all the answers, but it does give some much-needed perspective.
From this book I took away a heart that beat more warmly for Jesus and a mind that was ready to memorise scripture! Lovely!
Ps. After reading this book, you may be interested in reading some more about Christian persecution today. I recommend visiting Open Doors, a ministry to the persecuted church, at http://www.opendoors.org/ to see what their prayer needs are and how you can help.
MEET THE READER: Helene-Marie Stander is a 27-year-old chemical engineer, who lives with her husband Ruan in Sea Point, Cape Town.
What makes you laugh? I laugh at an assortment of things – my hubby’s jokes, funny sentences in textbooks and games of rugby, amongst other things.
Perfect day? My perfect day would be spent laughing, enjoying nature and good food with close friends.
Dream dinner party guests? I’d invite C.S. Lewis and my grandparents and we’d spend the night talking. I wouldn’t make any of the dishes that I see being made on the cooking shows that I love watching (I never make any of that stuff anyway – except the scrambled eggs), but we would order sushi, to minimise preparation and washing up (Jamie never washes up, I’m sure)!
Verse to live by? “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Rom 8:28)
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