But now thus saith the LORD that created thee, O Jacob, and he that formed thee, O Israel, Fear not: for I have redeemed thee, I have called thee by thy name; thou art mine; When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee. For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.” Isaiah 43:1-3

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Joy is not something which is seen just on the face but it is something which comes from within the heart. Joy is a Christian’s reflection of the light of the Living God in that person. However, on the other hand, many Christians lack the joy on their faces because they make-believe that to be spiritual, one is to put on somber and sad expressions on their faces. They seem to have forgotten what God has done in their lives, to have their faces glowing with joy, expressing God’s marvelous saving grace.

How can we as Christians enjoy our salvation and at the same time to be consistent in the faith? The verses at the heading may have direct reference to Israel as a nation, but it is also an equally important application for us of the wonderful promise of the coming Millennial Kingdom. In these verses, we are reminded of God’s promises that while we wait for the blessed hope to be realized, we can still enjoy our salvation in Jesus Christ.

We can enjoy our salvation because we had a past. Who doesn’t have a past? Our past may not be something that is worth talking about but we come from the past to be what we are today. The three things that God did for the Israelites in the same token are three things that God has done for us.

In verse 1: Redemption—God redeemed Israel from their enemies and called them by His name. We are redeemed by the blood of Christ and called by God to be His peculiar people.

In verse 2: Provision—The Lord provided them with food, shelter and protection since day one. God intervened in the events in history for His people, passing through the Red Sea, crossing the river Jordan and walking through fire of Daniel’s three friends in Babylon. What are the implications for us? As we think of what God did for Israel, likewise we can also depend on Him. As we face the storms of life and walking through dark valleys, we must remember that God is not afar off and He will not fail us, but every need of ours is for His glory.

In verse 3:  Promise—God’s promise to Israel to be her Saviour. It is either Egypt or Israel which must go and God chose Egypt and her allies (Ethiopia and Seba) for destruction and Israel for redemption. Today, the Church of Jesus Christ is the apple of God’s eye; the rise and fall of nations, kings and monarchs are put in power by God for the good of His people.

As for the future of God’s people; there will be glory, and there will be heaven and the reality of Christ forever.

Are you ready for these promises to be fulfilled?  Salvation in the past, provision at the present, hope in the future- and with these thoughts how can we not say that there is no reason to enjoy our salvation if we can look behind us, around us and ahead of us to say, “Thank You, Lord, that I am a Christian”.

F is for Forever Free

The Blind Korean Pastor
(A Summary of Rev An Yo Han’s Autobiography by Wendy Teng)

Birth and Childhood
An Yo Han was born in October 1939, the third child in the family. He was given the disciple’s name, John, while his seven siblings were given ordinary Korean names. To his father, who had come to the Lord late in life, John was a special gift from God, and his father dedicated and offered him to God to be a servant of the Lord.

Since young, John considered his father “an ever-present obstacle blocking the bright sunlight from shining towards him in his green pastures.” His father also dedicated himself to the Lord and studied in Pyongyang Theological Seminary and became a Christian minister and served in a small country church. The salary of his preacher father was hardly enough to take care of the family and John resented the poverty and lowly life of his father and was angry with the church for their mistreatment of their minister and his family. He was determined to remove this obstacle, and rebelled against his father’s dream of him being a minister of God. He openly resisted his father and his church whenever he was home on weekends or summer vacations. He enjoyed school as that was where he was away from home and church and could pursue his own dreams. However, though he caused much trouble to his father and his church, his father never ceased praying for him.

A Prodigal Son
After John graduated from high school, he entered the Foreign Language College in Seoul, Korea, majoring in French, to pursue the career of a diplomat. His decision to be financially independent from his father made him free from his father’s dominance. He need not struggle against his father anymore but could seek his own future with complete freedom.

However, his father did not give up on him. Upon his graduation from college in February 1962, his father asked him to come home immediately. His father persuaded him once again to fulfil his dream by asking him to tie a stone to a string and then to swing the stone around as hard as he could. His father then explained to him that like the stone which is tied to the string, he cannot escape from God’s will. His father told him that God had chosen him from birth to be His servant. John was astonished by his father’s unceasing prayers for his return! As he pondered over the God whom His father served, a seed of faith seemed to grow within him. After a week of consideration and prayer, he obeyed his father and registered to study at the new Seoul Theological Seminary. However, his seminary life was short and it ended in 1963. He struggled for several months and finally decided to quit seminary. He did not believe the Bible and could not preach about a God in whom he did not believe. Thereafter he went through three years of military service and enjoyed his freedom from church. He was discharged from military service in 1966 and started working as a Korean and French Instructor and as an interpreter in the Eighth American Military Army. He was drawing a high salary and was very happy.

In 1970, the Military Institute for Foreign Languages in Monterey, California, was in need of a Korean language instructor and the Eighth Army recommended John. John felt that he was in luck and his dream of a diplomatic career was going to be realised. Before his departure, John found a bride with the help of his parents and was happily married. He and his wife looked forward to their trip to the USA.

Becoming Blind
While waiting for the day of their trip to the USA, John suddenly felt something was wrong with his right eye. For no reason, it became worse. This was the beginning of the longest ordeal in his life. John was devastated to find out from the doctor that his right eye might gradually go blind. Owing to his eye problem, he postponed his trip to the USA. Hoping for a lucky turn of fate that he might get better, he sought treatment. John began his endless visits to all known eye doctors in the country in search of a cure but to no avail. Meanwhile, his first baby girl was born. When he could not meet the deadline after the third time, the Eighth Army found someone to replace him.

John also sought the ancient Chinese doctors and tried countless methods of treatment but nothing worked. One long year passed and 1972 came. His second daughter was born in April.

About the early summer of 1972, John became nearly blind in his right eye, and his left eye started having the same symptoms. It was evident that he was going blind—“The thing I had dreaded most had come! I felt as if both my body and spirit were bound together and thrown into the dark hell of despair. I was on the road to death all alone. There was no one who could walk with me; not even my own mother, my wife or my two loving daughters. I screamed out, ‘Oh, God! Why are you going to take the light away from me? What have I done to deserve this?’ Sinking deeper into despair I cried unto God, cursing Him and at the same time imploring Him. Of all people, why me? Why? Why?”

(To be continued next week)