This past summer I had the amazing opportunity to visit 양화진외국선교사묘원 (Foreign Missionary Cemetery) in Korea. I had no idea what to expect, what I would feel and how it would encourage me months later to press on.
Walking through the cemetery, reading the names, stories, and quotes of missionaries who have changed the world…I felt a deep respect for the missionaries, awe of the providence of God and a strong desire to pursue the dreams of God. Thinking back on this day…I have realized that this place represents so much more than mere history or my own personal journey. It is by the grace of God on a people and the response of ones who believe in the providence of God that countless individuals, families, communities, and nations have tasted the goodness of Jesus Christ.
These missionaries and their families felt a calling deep in their spirits and devoted their one life to the Lord. They went where they were strangers and aliens to the land, language, people, and culture. They moved with obedience in faith that what God began, he would finish; their obedience both stuns me and moves me at the same time. They served the poor…the marginalized…the second class citizens and orphans of Chosun. They built up schools for women that are known today as the top schools of South Korea and are recognized all around the world. They healed the sick, wound up the broken hearted, and freed the captives. But underlying all this was their love for the Lord and their willingness to take the good news to the ends of the earth that brought about change in the nation. These missionaries pioneered in a land that was unknown to them, where there was little to no recognition of God, but they believed in the power of the gospel to restore the land that God loves dearly.
One tombstone in particular has left an imprint on my heart. It was of a young woman, Ruby Kendrick, who was only 24 years old. She was from Texas and responded to God’s call to preach the gospel to the Korean people. Her tombstone read: “If I had a thousand lives to give, Korea should have them all (1907).” She surrendered her one life to the Lord as he took her on an adventure across the world. Though she died 8 months upon arriving in Korea…her obedient life and the words she left behind has left a mark.
Little did she know that the seeds she had sown in her short life and the mark that she left would contribute to the movement of God in Korea and to the future diasporas of the Korean people all over the world. God used these missionaries who lived for him with reckless abandon to share the good news with my grandma and she with her children and later to my mom. And now…to me!
Jesus gave his life for us. Then these missionaries gave their lives so the world would know that truth and be forever changed by it. I have one life to live. What will I devote my one life living for? Lord, I want to devote my whole heart and my life to you! Stir my heart for what stirs yours that I would obey you quickly and fully. Whatever you would have me be and do, may I serve you faithfully!