… story told by Dr David Yonggi Cho
Several years ago, a beautiful, elderly lady invited me to her home for dinner. This evening was to make a great impact on
my life and ministry. Mrs. Park, a former congresswoman, joined me in the dining room and graciously sat down. As we sat
before a sumptuous Korean dinner, she began to tell me her story. Although I had heard details concerning her testimony
before, I considered it a privilege to hear it from her own lips.
“During the Communist North Korean attack on Seoul,” she said softly. She paused as she tasted the rice that sat in front of
her. “They came so quickly that most of the leading political figures did not have an opportunity to escape south. I went into
my closet, found some old clothing and tried to disguise myself as an old peddler. As I was fleeing toward the South, I was
arrested by the North Korean soldiers. I told them I was just a poor old woman, but they did not believe me. The soldiers
took me into the headquarters building for questioning. The more I denied that I was someone of importance, the more they
questioned me until one of the men took my hands and told me I was lying. ‘These are not the hands of a peddler, they are
too soft,’ he said. Soon I was brought before one of the officers who gave me my sentence. ‘You are going to be shot at
dawn tomorrow,’ he said very abruptly.
“The hallway was damp and cold. I could just hear the faint rumbling of traffic above me, as they took me into a basement
prison cell. All I had were the few old scraps of clothes I had used in my attempt to disguise myself. By this time I was very
tired, and I laid down on the cement floor. As my mind raced through all of the things that had happened to me, I felt great
sorrow and remorse.
“What a way to see your glorious life end, I said to myself. You had everything. You know so many people, but tonight is
your last night. What will happen to you tomorrow? I continued to question as I fell asleep.
“It is always hard to be awakened out of a deep sleep. But when you realize that this is the last time you will ever be
awakened, it is doubly hard. A young man about twenty years old took my arm and firmly led me back through the cellar
hallway, up the stairs and out into the street. When the bright sunlight hit my face, I was blinded, but I was not blind enough
to miss the rifle he had pressed against his right shoulder.
“We walked several blocks, and I noticed the hollow shells that remained out of what were once lovely, although small
homes. All of these houses were pressed against each other as if to try to protect each other from the harsh cold that had
greeted us this morning. My eyes filled with tears, as I began to remember all of the major events of my life. I remembered
always having to be involved. For a Korean woman to neglect marriage and the raising of children in order to lead a section
of the anti-Japanese resistance—is not common. I remembered all of the excitement as the Americans defeated the Japanese,
and we were all free at last. I had entered politics to pursue my goal of justice for the people, but soon I had been caught up
in the social climbing that accompanies new-found power.
“My mind then went back to our little Methodist church. I sat through the sermons with disinterest, but I really enjoyed
singing the hymns. In fact, I often found myself humming some of my favourite hymns when I was frightened or lonely. ‘What
a Friend We have in Jesus,’ I sang quietly under my breath. More tears welled up in my eyes and began streaming down
my face as I said to myself, ‘You never really ever accepted Jesus Christ as your Saviour.’ This statement in my mind and
softly on my lips caused me to suffer even deeper feelings of pain and frustration.
“I wondered if Jesus would forgive me and save me right then? Now with all the resolve I could muster I said, ‘Jesus, I am
going to die in a few minutes. I have been a sinful woman. I don’t deserve it, but please forgive this old woman her sins and
save me like you did the thief on the cross.’
“Suddenly, I felt a joy fill my inner heart. My heart was pounding so fast, I was sure the young man, who was curiously
looking at me as we walked up the hill toward the place of my execution, could hear me. I was forgiven, I was free, and I
was ready to die.
“I sincerely believe that no one is ready for life without Christ, but even less ready for death without the assurance that only
the Lord Jesus Christ can bring. Now that I was happy and free I began to sing aloud, ‘All our sins and griefs to bear, what a
privilege to carry, everything to God in prayer.
‘Shut up, old woman!’ the boy-turned-soldier shouted at me. ‘Stop your singing now!’
“‘Why should I obey you now?’ I asked. ‘Isn’t it true that I am going to die anyway? I am now a Christian, I was just saved
walking up this hill, and I will take my last few minutes left on this earth to praise my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.’
‘Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine; oh, what a foretaste of glory divine.’ I started a new hymn just for the rude, young soldier.
Suddenly, all of the words of this hymn came back into my memory, and I continued to sing as loud as I could.
At the side of another hill on the outskirts of the city, I noticed there was a flat area. The young man took out a shovel and
began to dig my grave. As he dug, I continued singing. He occasionally looked up at me, then would continue digging. When
he was finished, he took a blindfold, put it over my eyes and said, ‘Old woman, do you have any last words you want to say
before I kill you and bury your body?’ Although my eyes were blindfolded, I felt I could see right into the heart of the young
executioner in front of me.
“‘Yes,’ I said feeling sorry for him, ‘I have only a few things to say. I have led a very wonderful life on this earth, but as we
walked up here, you had to notice that something happened to me. I woke up this morning full of fear, but now, I have peace
and joy. You see, I was only a nominal Christian this morning, but now I am saved. I only wish you too could know this
wonderful Savior Jesus Christ.’ I could have said more, but right at that moment I felt someone telling me to pray for my
“‘May I spend the last moments of my life praying for your soul?’ I asked, stepping down into the hole that he had dug which
was to be my grave. I knelt down and began to pray.
After only praying a few minutes, I heard the young man crying. I finished my prayer and said, ‘I am finished. You may shoot
me now.’ But nothing happened. What could be wrong? I said, ‘I am finished praying. You may shoot.’
“‘I can’t, I heard him say above what I perceived to be sobs of agonizing tears. He stepped down into the grave, pulled off
my blindfold and looked me in the eyes. ‘My mother used to pray for me like that. I can see her praying for me now. When I
lifted up my rifle to shoot you, I saw a vision of my mother, and I can’t shoot my mother.’
“‘You must obey your orders or they will kill you,’ I said, now concerned more for his life than I was for my own.
“‘I can’t kill you. Please, run away when I shoot into the sky,’ he said, as he untied my hands, and let me go. I ran into the
hills to safety.”
By the time Mrs. Park had finished the story, I found myself crying with her, not concerned that I had hardly eaten the food.
Mrs. Park is now in heaven, but she spent the rest of her life witnessing to leaders concerning Jesus Christ’s ability to deliver
and set prisoners free. She started the first “Presidential Prayer Breakfast” in Korea and was able to touch the hearts of
many of our most powerful political and economic leaders.
However, I remember her looking me in the eye at the end of her story and saying something to me that has had a great
“Pastor Cho, you are a young man. You have a great future in the ministry, but I have to advise you about something which
you are never to forget. Preach the Kingdom of God. Never get sidetracked. Preach all of the Gospel of the Kingdom.
Never allow convenience or prominence to keep you from preaching the message that Jesus preached. Again I say, preach
the Kingdom of God!“
I have never forgotten these words from this Korean saint.
Excerpt from the book “More Than Numbers”.
David Yonggi Cho is the Senior Pastor of the Yoido Full Gospel Church. He is also the Founder, President and
Chairman of the Board of Directors for the Church Growth International Ministry.
Story published here with permission from Peggy Kannaday of Church Growth International.