Kim tells the compelling story of her six years of imprisonment for refusing to bow to a shrine. Like holocaust memoirs, it is incredible to fathom what a body and spirit can endure. Her courage is huge, but so is her honesty: she was resolved to die a martyr’s death, but she was horrified at the thought of being cold. She was, in short, perishable.
The readiness is all. (Hamlet) After her first escape from prison, Kim found refuge in an abandoned country home. Expecting future imprisonment, she began a systematic preparation for persecution. Did you read that last sentence? She prepared for persecution.
She memorized more than one hundred chapters of the Bible and many hymns. She fasted to train her body to live without food and drink: first three days, then seven, then ten. She barely survived the ten day fast. The role of food in her life fascinated me.
The thought that I might die of hunger
and not be able to join the martyrs
made me gloomy. Didn’t I even have
a little of a nature, or did I only have a
beggar’s stomach? 147
The only way I could show her my love, I decided,
was to give her my meals. However, determined as I
was, all the food went into my mouth when it was served.
What a despicable, ugly person I was.
I was upset and sickened at myself.
I rebuked and insulted myself more than I
had ever done before, but when the mealtime
came, I was again finding excuses. The battle
continued for several days, but each day I lost.
Then when I was praying, a ray of light touched my spirit.
“I will offer my meal to Jesus!”
I carried my food quickly to Wha Choon.
“This is Jesus’ meal. I have offered it to Him.
And He wants you to have it, so thank Him and eat it.”
“you should never forget the moment when you shall
reach the gate of heaven. Be faithful,” she said. 176
to make her surroundings clean, too, by washing, sweeping
and polishing the house. She was truly a living testimony of
God’s grace, strong spiritually, and very dependable. 128
chapel of heaven around her. 129
Esther Ahn Kim’s faith was vibrant, vocal, bold. Amazingly, she lived when many others died. My favorite quote from this book illustrates the active nature of that faith.
that had long ago withered. I was just like that bird. Suddenly I shook
my head to the right and left vigorously. That courageous bird was
playing in a swirling snowstorm, ignoring her enemies. I had to be
such a bird. If she only perched on that withered bough with her
head stuck beneath her wing and feared the wind, snow, heaven,
earth, and everything else that might challenge her, she would only
freeze and die when night came. 135