The Valley of the Shadow of Death

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. (Ps. 23:4-5 KJV)

PRAYER: (from the Lectionary)

“O God, whose Son Jesus is the good shepherd of your people: Grant that when we hear his voice we may know him who calls us each by name, and follow where he leads; who, with you and the Holy Spirit, lives and reigns, one God, for ever and ever, AMEN.”

SCRIPTURES: (from the Lectionary)

Acts 9:36-43
Psalm 23
Revelation 7:9-17
John 10:22-30

“These are they who have come out of the great tribulation; they have washed their robes and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore, they are before the throne of God and serve him day and night in his temple; and he who sits on the throne will shelter them with his presence. Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat down on them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.” (Rev. 7:14-17 NIV)

PRAYER FOCUS: Christian Missionaries in Dangerous Places (The Valley of the Shadow of Death)

In 1998, the North Koreans tortured Dr. James Kim for forty days straight.

Arrested for giving food to starving peasants during a famine that would kill thousands, Dr. Kim stood further accused of being a spy for the United States. A Communist People’s Tribunal condemned him to death. On orders from North Korean “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il, James Kim’s tormentors directed him to write out a last will and testament, which, in the true Communist tradition, they intended to use solely for propaganda.

You see, Dr. Kim was an American citizen, an immigrant from South Korea, and a graduate of a British evangelical seminary in Bristol, England. Moreover, Kim (whose Korean name is Chin-Kyung) had fought for the United Nations side during the Korean War (1950-53), despite the fact that his family origins were located near Pyongyang, the North Korean captial.

As an evangelical Christian walking out his faith, Dr. Kim had been in North Korea working to establish the first private University in that country, as he had in Yanbian, China, six years before. But to the North Korean Communists, James Kim, aka Chin-Kyung, had become a propaganda opportunity of the first order.

Three years later, the men who had abused him now bowed low before him and begged his forgiveness.

What happened?

In his “will” James Kim had declared not his innocence, nor his anger, but his immense love for Jesus Christ and the North Korean people, “I love the North Korean people—I always have.” Dr. Kim had willed his useful organs to the Communist regime and written that they could harvest his body for research. Kim Jong Il, an avowed atheist and committed Communist, took notice. The specious charges were dropped and Dr. Kim was allowed to leave the country.

In 2001, the Dear Leader personally invited James Kim back to North Korea to continue development of his university, now known as the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST).

When Dr. Kim arrived in Pyongyang, he found his former tormentors lined up before him. One by one they bowed low before him and confessed their crimes. And one by one, James Kim forgave them—in the name of Jesus Christ.

Today, despite a severe shortfall in donations that comprised the majority of operating funds, Dr. Kim’s dream is nevertheless a reality. PUST sits on a 248-acre campus and trains approximately 600 students. How he and his faculty square the rigid political theories of Karl Marx and North Koreans’ unquestioning servitude to the Communist regime with the principles of Adam Smith and John Locke is not entirely clear. But the fact that such a conversation has even the possibility of existing in North Korea is a testimony of one man’s successful walk through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

“Everything has a price—peace may have the highest price of all,” said Dr. Kim at the Annual Partnership Banquet of the C.S. Lewis Institute, last week in Washington, D.C. “Christ-like patience and love are the only things that can touch North Korea.”

It’s Monday morning. Today is the birthday of Kim Il Sung, the founder of the North Korean Communist regime. Today is a good day for us to lift up, in prayer and in praise, those who have labored to bring the love of Jesus Christ to the people of that country. And let us also lift up the millions of lower-profile Christian missionaries who are right now saving souls and making disciples in the world’s most dangerous places, walking through the Valley of the Shadow of Death.

[NOTE 1: for more on Dr. Kim’s story, as reported by CNN and Fortune magazine, please click here.]

[NOTE 2: for more information about the C.S. Lewis Institute and its amazing outreach, please refer to our home page under “Missions and Ministries”]

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