Monday, October 1, 2012

Do You Have Christian Heroes? Here's One of Mine

Do you have Christian heroes in your life?

Anyone who knows me, can't know me long before they hear of Ahn Ei Sook. This woman of God who has gone on to be with the Lord was a weak, frail woman who served and loved our Mighty God! Her story is told in "If I Perish," by Esther Ahn Kim.

How can I sum up the life of a woman whose life was filled with suffering and triumph in a mere blog entry? It almost doesn't seem right to tell you just a little bit about her when her whole life shouts, "Jesus is my Lord and Savior!" Her story took place during the savage persecution of Christians in Korea at the hands of Japanese warlords.

When Ahn was only 22 years of age, she was a music teacher in Korea. Everyone had to go out to bow down to the shrines of the Shinto gods of the Japanese who occupied Korea with an iron fist, and had for decades. To not bow down to them in public would mean imprisonment and possibly death—and at the very least persecution and torture. This young Korean Christian woman defied the Japanese authorities and would not bow down to the Shinto shrines in allegiance to her Lord Jesus.

She was eventually captured and imprisoned under the worst of conditions. To try to tell you all that happened to her in prison is impossible. She was near death many times. It is the best biography I have ever read in my life, hands down! (perhaps I can tell you more about her in my current series on trusting God in suffering which I'm posting on Mondays and Thursdays.)

Listen to the back of the book jacket:

"Ahn Ei Sook stood alone among thousands of kneeling people in bold defiance of the tyrannical command to bow to a pagan Japanese shrine. After months on the run, she was captured and condemned to living death in the filth and degradation of a Japanese prison.

Although she was imprisoned and tormented for many years, her determination and fortitude never diminished. In spite of the brutality, oppression, and ruthlessness of her captors Miss Ahn remained true to Christ and won many of her fellow prisoners to Him by her example. Her courageous activities in prison not only brought the light of the Gospel to many, but also resulted in a reduction of torture."

In her own words, Ahn said, "I cannot explain how such a weak woman as I was given such wonderful blessings during times of fear and suffering."

I have 11 and a half pages of notes I took as I read Ahn's story (perhaps I can tell you more about her in my current series on trusting God in suffering which I'm posting on Mondays and Thursdays).

I was so moved that I calculated her age when I read the book ten years ago, that I longed to be able to reach her and tell her what a witness she was bearing the light of Christ to all who knew her—including me through her story. (she wrote it all upon getting out of prison and God brought 7 years of memories to her vividly as she wrote). I calculated that she would be in her 90s if I found her, meaning she could still be alive! I knew she had married after she was released from prison to a man named Don Kim.

I searched and searched and could find nothing on her (Do you know how many Don Kim's there are?). Finally, one day weeks after I had begun my search, I was talking with a Korean pastor who shared our church building on Sundays. I asked if he knew of her. He instantly replied, "Every Korean Christian knows her! She is a hero in Korea!" I followed a trail that he gave me that led to a Don Kim living in California. I finally reached him. He told me that Ahn had died in 1997.  We spoke on the phone for one hour! He told me all about meeting her, and being "so touched" by her testimony that he married her!

Mr. Kim later wrote me and mailed me a beautiful picture of them together taken on their wedding anniversary. I was mad at myself this morning because it was not in the file I thought it was in!

Paul said to "imitate him" not in an arrogant way, but because we need examples of people's lives who walk in a manner worthy of the calling in Christ Jesus to strengthen our faith so we can do the very same!!!!

If Ahn was willing to die to be loyal to her Lord Jesus, am I willing to die little deaths to myself in my daily life to put others interests ahead of my own?

It strengthens my faith to learn of the life of Christian heroes like Ahn Ei Sook.

Do you have Christian heroes?

Why is this person a Christian hero to you?

It doesn't have to be a Biblical person or historical person, it can be your mother or sister. Age makes no difference either. Ahn was only 22 years of age when she took her life and death stand for Christ.

Don't you think we need heroes to look up to that model Christ living in them?

"I was not going to live my youthful life for myself. I would offer it to the Lord and bear witness of him. I was filled with happiness for having been born in this age of bitterness." 
~If I Perish, pg. 15.

Those were Ahn's thoughts as she walked up to the shrine, knowing her life would not be the same in just a few moments when she would take a stand to not bow to the pagan shrine.

"Oh Lord, help us to not live our lives for ourselves, but to offer our lives to You, and live each hour in the way that you would have us live it. Help us to do what you want us to do, when you want us to do it, the way a Christian should do it. Thank you Lord for Christian heroes like Ahn. Amen."

This blog entry will be updated later today with a scripture inserted here. In the meantime, please feel free to include one in your comment! My husband just arrived for lunch and one way I can die to self is to leave this slightly unfinished to be with him. (it's not much of a sacrifice, I know, but I do love finishing something, but he must come first!)

I'm back, my husband had to run out to be in a golf tournament today and they are serving lunch there (he thinks!).  So now, I will add the scripture I referred to above from the apostle Paul.

May we all be able to say the same thing (so it goes on and on... we follow Christ and are encouraged by the witness of true believers who trust God and as we follow Christ we may be that person in someone else's life that encourages them to follow Christ right where they are, who in turn.... you got the picture!):

"Be imitators of me, just as I also am of Christ."
~1 Corinthians 11:1

Walk by Faith,


  1. I just finished reading Ahn Ei Sook's (Ahn Kim) heartfelt account of her life during and after the Japanese occupation. I have talked to many Americans and no one even knew of the persecutions the Korean Christians underwent. I have a niece in Korea who I would like to send this book to. She teaches English there and loves the people.

  2. I just posted a comment anonymously and wanted to add that the impact Ahn's testimony had on me was that God can use us even if we are frail and afraid. He freely gives us so much and asks so little of us, even providing strength, wisdom and the words to say. The love that Christ put in Ahn's heart for even the most vile sinner could only have come from Christ himself. He provides!

  3. you should also read 1000 shall fall by Susi Hasel Mundy

  4. i just read "If I Perish" extraordinary faithful Christian. strong young woman of God who sustained her thru so much suffering . she was always faithful. awesome.


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