Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Esther Ahn Kim: Beloved of God

Last Sunday, the youth in our church and I studied a life of one of the saints. Since I was the one assigned to take charge, I grabbed the chance to introduce a saint they have never heard or known (I don’t know her before too but thanks to Noël Piper and her book Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God). This saint I am referring to is Ahn Ei Sook or better known now as Esther Ahn Kim who is also the author of the book If I Perish. You can read more about her life on pages 107-138 of Piper’s book.

She had undergone many sufferings yet she had remained faithful. She didn't bow to the Japanese goddess though she knew that it would cost her imprisonment, torture and it could even be her death. The following are the lessons I learned from her life:

1. She learned the help and importance of serenity and solemnity.

Living in that house, she soaked up the serenity and strength of the brook and field and woods and sky around her. Rainstorms and powerful weather seemed to energize her. Because they were isolated, she could sing hymns loudly. During the weeks they were there, she memorized many hymns and more than 100 chapters of the Bible. (Noël Piper)

2. She learned the importance of spiritual disciplines.

And each day in their house they continued the disciplines they had begun in the country: prayer, hymns—quietly now—worshiping, and memorizing Scripture. (Noël Piper)

a. Bible reading and memorization

As she would have anywhere, she depended on God and his Word to sustain her. The Word that was at her disposal was the vast amount she had stored in the library of her heart. All the Scripture she had memorized was there to meditate on in prison as it had been at all other times in her life, for her to draw on to remember God’s promises of faithfulness. (Noël Piper)

b. Fasting

I knew it would be impossible for me to keep my faith in my own power. God would have to work through me if I was to stand firm. I decided to fast.

Although I had not expected it, after the fast I was able to understand the Scriptures better and I felt a new power in my prayer. Now I felt that I could leave the fear of torture in the Lord’s hands. (Esther Ahn Kim as quoted by Noël Piper)

c. Prayer

As she would have anywhere, she prayed for the people close to her. At one jail, she had lent the head jailer a Japanese Bible. Later he told her he was going to resign and go back to Japan. He wanted to start a new life because he’d come to hate his job. He said, “Officially, I am leaving for a rest, but a change has come into my heart. I want to live for a rewarding and true hope as you are doing.” When she told him she had often prayed for him, he said, “You’ve prayed for me? Now I understand. (Noël Piper)

3. She learned not to live in luxury.

The first step was to learn to live in deep poverty... She made a habit of buying complete lots of poor produce from the poorest vendors—at full price. Then she culled through and gave what was edible to her mother and sister. She ate what was left. She was preparing for the rotten beans and millet she expected in prison. (Noël Piper)

4. She has compassion for her persecutors and the lost.

The soldiers all had that strange look of death, as though they were being sent to hell for the sake of the state. . . . Someone must save these tens of thousands of fine young men from the road to hell. I stomped the ground and cried in my frustration and anger. If only someone in a high position would stand up to the Japanese leaders and make them see that the youth from all over the country were turning into fiends in hell, day after day. . . . That burden tormented me like a fire that would not be quenched. Then suddenly I heard a voice speaking to my heart, “You are the one! You must do it!” (Esther Ahn Kim as quoted by Noël Piper)

5. She learned to share Christ no matter what situation was and wherever she was.

It was not considered proper for ladies of their class and education even to visit the market. But each day they were there, handing out tracts and trying to tell people about Jesus. (Noël Piper)

6. She learned to rejoice and delight in God’s will and way.

We fasted as a group and made it a habit to eat as plainly as possible and to sleep without using quilts. Although we were all poor, we were never in want, and our houses and clothes were clean. We were all filled with the Holy Spirit and were convinced it was more than an honor to die for the Lord. We constantly lived in fear of the police, but we were happy and satisfied, envying no one. Having prayed all night, Pastor Power Chae would often stand up in joy, dancing and singing, while tears ran down his cheeks.

For us it was a joyous blessing to have been born in such a place and for such a time. I realized that it was because of this persecution that I was able to truly experience God’s presence and trust His promises. (Esther Ahn Kim as quoted by Noël Piper)

7. She learned to solely depend on the power of Jesus.

“But if not.” Even if God didn’t save them from the burning fire, they would die honoring him. I was going to make the same decision. With God’s help, I would never bow before the Japanese idol, even if He did not save me from the hands of the Japanese. I was saved by Jesus. I could bow only before God, the Father of my Savior. I felt as though I could already see the burning furnace yawning for me. While we walked I was praying. I knew what I was going to do. “Today on the mountain, before the large crowd,” I told myself, “I will proclaim that there is no other God beside you. This is what I will do for Your holy name. (Esther Ahn Kim as quoted by Noël Piper)

And when they were in heaven, “they would tell Jesus that it was because of his love and not because of their own powers that they had not denied their faith. (Noël Piper, italicized were words of Esther Ahn Kim)

I am really recommending that we read biographies of great men and women of God because from their lives, we can learned lots of things and we will be greatly encouraged too.


Reference: Piper, Noël. Faithful Women and Their Extraordinary God. Illinois: Crossway Books, 2005.

Copyright His Beloved 2011.