Tuesday, December 9, 2014 4:01 AM

Elder Kim

Tuesday, December 9, 2014 4:01 AM
Tuesday, December 9, 2014 4:01 AM

The retelling of a wonderful story by Donald Grey Barnhouse.

Several years before the Second World War, I spent a month in Korea ministering to groups of missionaries. At Sorai Beach, scores of missionary families were spending the summer and there were many opportunities for social fellowship. One evening a group of us were seated on the sand under a magnificent moon. I said to them, “Now I have been teaching you twice a day for several days, and I want my pay. Tell me your best missionary stories.” After a moment of silence, one man said to another, “Tell him about Elder Kim.” Here is the story:

Kim, a Korean layman of wealth and prominence, was elected elder in one of the Presbyterian churches in P’yongyang, the chief city of northern Korea. Because of his outstanding character and reputation, he was asked to address the annual meeting of the General Assembly of the church during one of the morning devotional periods. He began modestly, reminding his hearers that he was a simple layman, not trained in a seminary or Bible institute. He was not going to preach or attempt to teach, but he wished to put before them a great problem, and to ask their advice for its solution.

“A year or two ago,” he began, “I received a letter from a friend of mine in Seoul. He was a young dentist and wanted to establish himself in P’yongyang. He asked me to find a place that would be suitable for his home and office combined. Now we all know that there is a great housing shortage, but I did all I could to help him. For three days I searched the town. Finally I found a place and wrote him about it. I told him that the house was in bad condition. The wall surrounding the place was in disrepair, there was a hole in the house wall, the roof leaked very badly. The house was in a very bad neighborhood. Next door there was a house that was inhabited by what were called ‘singing girls.’ Furthermore, the price was exorbitant. In spite of this adverse report, my friend sent me a telegram telling me to buy the house. A day or so later I received a check for several thousand yen for the down payment, so I signed the papers to purchase the house. The down payment was made and the final payments were to be made in three days, at which time the owner agreed to vacate the house. The payments were made but the owner asked for a day or two more in order to find another house. I granted him this period of grace. But after a week he was still there. Two weeks, three weeks, a month, three months, six months have passed. The man who sold the house has bought new clothing for his family, and they are eating polished rice instead of the cheaper grains. He knows that I am a Christian and that in Korea we Christians never go to court against other Christians, and we try not to go to court against unbelievers. He laughs at me when I come.

“Now, Fathers and Brethren,” Elder Kim continued, “my friend is greatly embarrassed because his capital is tied up in this house, and he is in a very difficult position. What am I to do?”

Several of the members of the General Assembly responded. One pointed out that Elder Kim was not acting in his own behalf, but as an agent. Another pointed out that he was evidently dealing with a man who was a thief at heart. All agreed that Kim had the right to go to the authorities and ask for an eviction order. Kim asked for a show of hands, and all voted that he had the right to proceed legally.

Elder Kim concluded: “Thank you, Fathers and Brethren, for the way you have considered my problem. Before I sit down, I wish to draw one conclusion. Nineteen hundred years ago the Lord Jesus Christ came down from Heaven to purchase for Himself a dwelling place.” Then, striking his hand upon his breast, he continued, “He bought this old shack. It was in a rundown condition. It was in a bad neighborhood. He bought me because He wanted to take possession and dwell in my heart. He gave Himself for me, and He gave me the Holy Spirit as a down-payment on my inheritance, bringing me innumerable blessings with His redemption. But I cling to my tenement and leave Him outside. Now if you say that I have the right to seek the help of the authorities to evict the man who is occupying my friend’s house, what shall you and I say of ourselves when we deny the Lord Jesus the full possession of that for which He gave His own life?”[1]

[1] Barnhouse, D. G. (1964). God’s Discipline: Romans 12:1–14:12 (189–191). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.

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