As I was reading the four-part series on Lee Su Jung, it occurred to me that Missionary Lee deeply loved his home country of Korea. After rescuing the princess, he was granted a wish and his wish ended up being a visit to Japan for the benefit of Korea. Rev. Kim Sung Chul said of Missionary Lee, He was eager to be a driving force for development in his homeland.
Lee Su Jung had expected to bring some specialized agricultural knowledge back to Korea from Japan, but he brought Christianity instead. And this Christian faith was exactly that “driving force” that he originally desired.
Lee Su Jung’s story reminded me what Anutza Moise recounted about Rev. Richard Wurmbrand early on in his ministry, before his days of persecution. Some of the sisters involved with Rev. Wurmbrand’s ministry had begun to minister in the prison. There were some prisoners who had even come to faith. Moise said,
When Richard heard about this new opportunity for witness, he exhorted us to pray that the Lord would open ways to start a greater work in the prisons; he himself was the keenest in praying for this. Of course, he was thinking that he might go to the prisons as a ministering pastor, but the Lord had His own way of answering this prayer. During Richard’s fourteen years in prison, he was such a blessing to most of those he came into contact with that it cannot be measured in human terms (A Ransom For Wurmbrand, 66).
In both cases God granted the desires of their hearts in an unexpected way–one that may not have accorded with the desires of their minds. And yet, years later when Rev. Wurmbrand looked back at own suffering he had a different reaction than you or I might expect. Hieromonk Damascene recounted a conversation he had with Wurmbrand in 1998. He said,
I asked him how to face persecution, if and when it comes. He told us not to be fearful of persecution. “Persecution must come to all Christians,” he said, “but do not be afraid.”
Mother Nina asked him how to bear suffering. He said that he had always been afraid of suffering, but then he began to be joyful in suffering. “Be joyful!” he exclaimed, “leap for joy!” As Mother Nina remarked later, as he said this his eyes seemed like a sea of light opening into eternity.
In both of these cases, God answered the righteous prayers and desires, but He did it in an unexpected–and personally costly–way. Instead of answering in a way that left the pray-er unchanged and untouched, he answered in a way that cost the pray-er everything. One might describe this as a very earthy and practical answer rather than just a “spiritual” one. The pray-er became the answer to the prayer in God’s hand, in God’s way, in God’s time.
Neither Missionary Lee nor Rev. Wurmbrand probably expected God to transform them when they were praying, since their prayers were focused on the transformation of something external. But that transformation through prayer is why Rev. Wurmbrand could have joy in the face of such terrible suffering. Wurmbrand knew that God had a greater purpose and that God had not simply utilized him but also completely changed him in the process.
Anutza Moise said it best when she said,
Whenever I agree with some of my friends to pray for something special, I always warn them – it is dangerous to pray if you are not willing to take the consequences. The Lord might answer your prayers in a way you least expect (A Ransom For Wurmbrand, 66)!