“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]
“Before we talk about peace among individuals or nations, we must talk about peace between ourselves and God.” [page 242]
“There is a saying, ‘Anything can be accomplished when there is harmony in the home.’ When there is peace in the family, everything goes well. The peaceful family is the building block of the Kingdom of Heaven.” [page 213]
“International and intercultural marriages are the quickest way to bring about an ideal world of peace. … A person may hate people from a certain country or culture and think he never wants to set eyes on them. But if someone from that country becomes his spouse, then the person is halfway to becoming a person of the new country. All the hatred melts away. If this is repeated for two or three generations, the roots of hatred can be eliminated.” [page 218]
“I first set foot in Jerusalem in 1965. This was before the Six-Day War and Jerusalem was still under Jordan’s territorial control. I went to the Mount of Olives, where Jesus shed tears of blood in prayer just prior to being taken to the court of Pontius Pilate. I put my hand on a two-thousand-year-old olive tree that could have witnessed Jesus’ prayer that night. I drove three nails in that tree, one for Judaism, one for Christianity and one for Islam. I prayed for the day when these three families of faith would become one. World peace cannot come unless Judaism, Christianity and Islam embrace as one. Those three nails are still there.” [page 238]
“The river does not reject any of the streams that flow into it. It accepts them all. It embraces all the streams and forms a single flow as it continues toward the ocean. People in the world do not understand this simple truth. The streams that seek out the river and flow into it are the numerous religions and denominations of today. Each stream traces its origin to a different spring, but they are all going to the same destination. They are seeking the ideal world overflowing with peace.” [page 243]
On life and death
“Do not live for yourself. You must live not for yourself but for others; for your neighbors more than for your family; for the world more than for your own country. All sin in the world comes about when the individual is put first. Individual desires and ambitions harm a person’s neighbors and ruin the society at large.” [page 230]
“Please consider for a moment what you can do to show that you lived a life of value. The possessions and social position you have accumulated during your life will pass away from you. Once you cross the river of death, such things will have no meaning. Because we were born in love and lived our lives in love, love is the only thing that remains with us when we are in our graves. We receive our lives in love, live by sharing love, and return into the midst of love. It is important that we live in a way that we can leave a legacy of love behind us.” [page 231]
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