You may have heard the phrase "from rags to riches". Well

materially, I am far from it, but spiritually speaking it fits my

life story very well. Thus, I chose to title the following testimony

"From Fig Leaves to King's Robe".

Korea, also known as the land of the morning calm, was the place

where I was born. During that time, Korea was under Japanese

Imperialist regime. Like most Koreans who grew up under peaceful

Confucius and Buddist teachings, my parents were not prepared to

cope with the hostile situation. Later I was told that there were

shortages of everything when I was born, and I was but the fourth of

my parents' eight children.

The house in which I was born had been newly built. One of my

father's cousins was a Christian, the wife of a deacon, and was

concerned for my father's soul. When she died, she had left a

substantial amount of money to my father with only one condition.

This condition was that the money was to be used to build my

father's house right in front of the country church. Of course, she

made that arrangement so that my parents could be exposed to


That started my early association with the church of God. I remember

seeing some old faded photos where I was a ring bearer for a few

church weddings. Life around the church must have been a happy one

until my father had a dispute with the church pastor regarding the

property line. My father became very bitter about the unfair

dealings by the pastor. According to my mother, my father used to

come home drunk and made big scenes in front of the church to

disrupt the church meetings. He even forbade my mother from

attending any church since that time.

Then World War II ended, and the Communists took over North Korea

including the small town where I grew up. We left just about

everything to escape the Communists. After arriving in South Korea,

my parents finally chose to settle down in Inchon, a sea port much

bigger than the town we left.

Like many other Korean parents, my parents were also determined to

educate their children through college. They knew that Korea was

overrun by the Japanese because its people had failed to educate

themselves and catch up with modernization. So they were ready

to sacrifice for their children's education.

Being forbidden to attend church, my mother resorted to Shaman's help

for any difficult situations like the times when we became sick. I

still remember the boiled pig head on the table and the bamboo leaves

shaking in the hands of the Shaman. The more she shook the bamboo

leaves, the more convinced we were that she had contact with the


Then the Korean War broke out which brought horrendous misery to so

many Koreans. Those who survived the war became much more cunning

and smart. Through the GIs and the missionary charity services we

were given fancy goods which we had never seen before. Missionaries

poured in and more churches were built all over Korea.

My eldest brother brought me to Sunday school in nearby churches. I

remember attending Christmas and Easter programs. But at that time I

had no idea about the reason for all those pageantries although I

remember hearing my father praising Confucian teachings. As usual,

life in Korea was not easy. By then my father, who loved drinking

and parties, became an alcoholic and a womanizer. He neglected and

eventually abandoned us. We lived poorer than all of our neighbors.

And even now, I still wonder how my mother managed to pay our school

tuitions year after year.

To my parent's joy, I did well, especially in the area of academics

and was an obedient student to the delight of all my teachers.

When the Boy Scouts were first introduced in my town, I was chosen to

join the experiment. From the very beginning, I enjoyed Boy Scout

life - the outdoor living, the group activities, and especially doing

good deeds for my fellowmen. I became a self-disciplinarian, greatly

influenced by my school principal who was also a self-disciplinarian

patterned after the teachings of Confucius. I not only built up my

body by weight-lifting but built up my character as well using

Benjamin Franklin's self-disciplining method.

Through the Boy Scouts and other activities that were held around the

USIS (US Information Service) building, I was deeply impressed by the

things of America and the West. I was a frequent visitor to the USIS

library where they also showed film strips every weekend. I sat

through most of the USIS's free films and read many of their library

books and magazines. One of the books I still remember having read

was the autobiography of Booker T. Washington, a negro educator.

Reader's Digest became my "Bible" as well.

To me, knowledge was everything; knowledge freed people from bondage.

I read a lot, absorbing as much as I could. I became an intellectual

who embraced the philosophies of men above all else. It was at this

time that my dream was to become a sailor so that I could travel all

over the world as a free man. Also during this time, a friend

invited me to his Catholic church. I did attend some masses with

him, but to a young intellectual, the religiosity of Catholicism did

not appeal to me much.

In the meantime, my mother contracted a serious illness. Elder Park,

a cult leader like Jim Jones, was conducting miracle healing all

over Korea at that time. My mother attended one of those meetings

and was cured, as she thought, by his healing. Since then, she

became our resident preacher in our home. At almost every meal, my

mother preached to us to repent of our sins and get the baptism by

the Holy Spirit. We all learned to shut off our ears during those

meals and to leave home as soon as we could.

I left home when I was 16 to attend a high school in Seoul, the

capital city of Korea. All of the bright students in Korea were

supposed to attend schools in Seoul. Therefore I was one of those

who went to one of the best high schools in Seoul. I was glad to

leave home even though I suffered from homesickness and loneliness at


While living at home, the pressure from my mother to repent had

increased day by day. To be a filial son, I had obediently

accompanied my mother to those revival meetings where miracle

healing were conducted. I had witnessed with my own eyes a miracle

or two. Even though I was greatly impressed by what I saw, I was

skeptical of Elder Park's claim that he was an instrument in the

hands of God. Enough reports had leaked out of Elder Park's commune

that discredited his sainthood. Despite these reports, spiritual

affairs held me much intrigued during that time of my life. So I

had read books on Buddism, which was a prevalent religion in Korea,

as well as Existentialism by Camut and Kierkegard. I had also read

the books of the New Testament in English to learn more about


Since I left home, I had to support myself by tutoring the children

of a rich family and boarding with them. I was still a model student

and had to remain one in order to maintain my scholarship. I was

also quite a serious young man who used to argue that education was

the ultimate answer for all of Korea's problems. I even joined the

literacy campaigns. Seeing such a solemn and idealistic man in me,

my high school mates used to call me a Korean "Don Quixote".

Can a man whose parents had split up and who had nothing much in

possession still be proud of himself? Yes, in fact it was my PRIDE

that kept me going. I was proud of my intellect and my school

grades. Because my time was bound by my duty as a tutor, I had no

time for extracurricular or social activities. Undoubtedly, I

graduated high school as a valedictorian. But I was a lonely young

man whose best companion were books.

Having lived with PRIDE for so long, I am very well acquainted with

it. Pride is nothing but fig leaves that one puts on to cover

up his nakedness. It is a defense mechanism to cover up a deep

feeling of inferiority. I was the proud "Don Quixote" who believed

that he could become whatever he wanted to become simply by trying

hard with sheer will power.

As I matured into the college age, things didn't turn out the way I

had imagined. I began to realize that after all, I could neither

keep the annual resolution nor the strict moral standard I had tried

to achieve. It was during that time that what is called the fever

of first-love hit me hard. I found myself pining after a co-ed who

was much older than I. My grades fell as I day-dreamt. It became

very difficult to concentrate on school work. I hated finding myself

in such a vulnerable condition. The harder I tried to shake off the

emotion, the more love-sick I became.

Not knowing how to relate that feeling in the real world - I was

living in the world of books, you see - I became a withdrawn man. I

turned to a little drinking and smoking and excessive music listening

for comfort and solace. I fell into temptation and youthful lust

which shattered all my pride. By then my grades were such that I was

barely hanging on.

It was during that time that I attended an English-speaking JOY Youth

Club. It was a Christian fellowship group that attracted those who

wanted to practice speaking English. The club counselor who was an

American missionary used the New Testament as our discussion

material. As I look back, I read the Bible mainly to acquaint myself

with the world's most renown piece of literature and at the same time

to have an upperhand over my mother on the subject of God. Yet, as I

read on in the Bible, the Book gradually convicted me of my sins.

"For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God."

Romans 3:23.

At that time, I regarded Jesus as a good moral teacher and thought

that religious fanatics like my mother had gotten him all wrong. But

it was there at the club that I met some good Christian brothers and

sisters whose lives reflected the peace and joy that I did not have.

The Christianity they lived was quite different from what I saw in my

mother and her associates. By then, I had no problem acknowledging

that I was a sinner. When the counselor used Matthew 11:28 to offer

an invitation to accept Jesus as saviour, I raised my hand and

prayed the sinner's prayer to receive the peace and joy Christ

promised to those who accept Him in their hearts.

"Come unto me, all [ye] that labour and are heavy laden, and I

will give you rest." Matthew 11:28.

At that time I was tired of a lot of things but most of all of being

a lived-in tutor. There was a college dormitory run by the

Presbyterian Missionary. The church I attended belonged to that

denomination. One of the requirements for admittance to the dorm was

baptism by the denomination. I joined the Presbyterian church as a

member and got baptized quickly to secure a space at the dorm. The

Presbyterian group was quite liberal in doctrine. All students in

that dorm were also liberal Christians who were politically oriented.

There, all seemed to agree that the real answer for all problems in

Korea was political reformation.

Meanwhile the Students' Uprising of 1960 broke out which overthrew

the existing government and set the stage for a military government.

Some of my friends in the dorm were imprisoned later by the military

government for planning socialistic insurrection. My growth as a

newly born again Christian was minimal under the teachings of that

liberal Presbyterian group because the gospel I heard was very much

like a social gospel.

About the time when I graduated from college with a bachelor-of-law

degree, I was worn out by love-sickness. And then came the call of

military duty from the government. It was a welcome escape. I

remember my boot camp experience as the loneliest time of my life.

No one came to visit me and every letter I ever received from home

contained grim news. My dear elder sister was dying of tuberculosis

and we did not have money to put her in any hospital. She was prayed

over many times by famous faith healers of that time but without much

improvement. Of course she was blamed for her lack of faith when

nothing improved. After much suffering she was reduced to skin and

bones and eventually died.

My only consolation during that time was reading the pocket New

Testament that one of my church friends gave me. I served four years

of military duty as an Air Force officer living mostly in remote

mountain tops manning radar sites. For a year or so I spent most of

my leisure time preparing for the bar exam but soon lost my

ambition and interest in pursuing a career in Korea. I knew that the

way of the Lord was the right way but I lived like many other

officers doing what was right in their own eyes.

Anyway, I was very much disillusioned with the way things were going

in Korea and with the way I was living too. I wanted to go abroad to

start a new life in America. The only way to get out of Korea at

that time was to get an admittance from an American university and a

sponsor who would guarantee my tuition. Those I did manage to obtain

about the time I finished my military duty. As soon as the Korean

Air Force released me, I left Korea with a suit case and just $100

cash in my wallet.

I went to Oklahoma State University as a foreign student. The Student

Counseling job at the university provided for my room and board, but

I had to earn the tuition. Every vacation and recess found me

working to earn my tuition. Sometimes I had two or three jobs and

thus had to catch up on sleep even during breaks. During that time,

I met a few good Christian couples, American as well as Korean. By

then I had seen many different life styles, and found Christian

marriages to be the most desirable.

One Korean Christian couple who frequently satisfied my hunger for

Korean food was a member of the Church of Christ. I went along with

them to their church and enjoyed their Bible studies. Another couple

who treated me with nice Korean dinners was Mormon. They never

invited me to their church but their clean religious example

impressed me a lot. There was also a couple of American families who

invited me to their homes for Bible study fellowship and desserts. I

wanted a happy home like what I saw. I began to pray for a Christian


My main goal at that time was to get a Master's degree and then

settle down in the USA with a Christian wife. As soon as I made some

money, I wanted to help my poor family in Korea. It was during my

usual summer job in New York city that I heard of Billy Graham's Shea

Stadium Crusade. I went to the Crusade alone and rededicated myself

to the Lord. I repented of my sin and my pride.

One female co-worker at my summer job had a friend who had gone to

the same Crusade. After hearing my Crusade testimony, she insisted

that I meet her friend, which I complied to do. Her friend was a

good Christian woman well grounded in the word of God. Her

encouragement and emotional support meant a lot during that time. Our

Christian friendship developed into an even deeper kind of

friendship. When I graduated from the University, we were married

and settled down in New York.

My wife's former roommate was an avid Family Radio listener. Thanks

to her, my wife started to listen to Family Radio and became a fan.

She often left our radio tuned to Family Radio. I came to like

listening to it also. Family Radio had been airing Calvary Baptist's

church services. After hearing Dr. Stephen Olford's sermons several

times on the air, we decided to attend his church. Until that time,

we had been church-hoppers, visiting all kinds of churches including

Witness Lee's local church, which turned out to be a cult.

Dr. Olford was a man who radiated a sanctified life. Every word of

his sermon drove home in my heart. We sought to become members of

that church. It was then a black deacon asked me if I was born again.

I got upset with him for asking such a personal question. But then I

realized that I didn't have the blessed assurance most other

Christians have. Instead of looking at the author and finisher of my

faith, I was examining myself critically and taking note of all my

failures as a Christian. I was still looking out to the world and

myself from my own perspectives. I was trying to become a good

Christian with my own strength.

When we heard an announcement on Family Radio about its summer Bible

conference at Keswick, we went with anticipation to hear God's

messages. I had an excellent time there learning about Logos living,

that is living by the word of God. Another thing that stood out was

the sweet Christian fellowship. We met and got to know many godly

people. And before the end of the conference I was given a chance to

witness publicly. As I testified what the Lord had done in my life,

I felt a definite sense of the Spirit of God anointing me. I returned

home a changed man with the full assurance of my salvation. My

tremendous hunger for the Word led me to read the Bible fasting. I

started to see things from God's perspective agreeing with God on all


I wanted an instant fix for my spirituality and sought for the

ability to speak in tongues by attending a Charismatic church in

Brooklyn New York in the evenings while attending Calvary Baptist

church in the mornings. We even attended a Bible conference

sponsored by the Charismatic church. By doing so, I thought I was

reconciling to the religion of my mother and my elder brother who

later became an ordained minister of the Assembly of God.

One of the wonderful things which happened while we were at Keswick

was an invitation by the vice president of Family Radio for me to

consider working for Family Radio as an accountant. It was quite an

unexpected offer, but we were pleased to have been considered. What

kept us from responding to the call quickly was the relatively low

salary we were offered and our fear of moving to a totally new place

in California known to New Yorkers as earthquake country.

It took a few months of praying and counseling before we were sure

that it was the will of God to respond to the call. Soon, we were

happily selling most of our possessions to follow the Lord's call to

serve. I was then full of zeal, feeling as if I were walking on

cloud nine, and even speaking in tongues. I thought God would use me

to bring Charismatic zeal to Family Radio.

It was quite a step of faith on both of our parts to leave our

comfortable living, combined salaries, and many friends to go to

California, which may any day go down under the Pacific Ocean. (Would

you believe that such concern was real to us then?) But God gave us

the joy of walking by faith. While learning to adjust to Californian

life style, we also learned how to stretch dollars by means of

coupons and thrift shops.

After visiting many churches (Charismatic churches being the first),

we settled down at Fairhaven Bible Chapel, a brethren type church

which we have attended for the last 16 years. We chose to attend the

church because its humble atmosphere was inviting and the humility of

the elders was impressive as well. It is a church where every one is

expected to exercise his or her gift for the edification of the body.

And almost all its members were ministers of the Word. I realized

quickly how little I knew of the Bible and attended all of the Bible

studies, including the midweek Bible studies, and most of the

seminars that my church has sponsored.

One of the elders who was a member of the staff of the Navigators was

kind enough to disciple me for a year or so. He made sure that I was

on a solid Biblical ground and built in me the basic Christian

characters. I also learned how to be a good husband and also the

head of our home. The Lord blessed me with two children and

parenting became my priority. Because it had good programs for young

parents and a good support group as well, I owe a lot of my Christian

training to the body of the church.

Serving at Family Radio has been a great blessing too. I have the

privilege of listening to the edifying teachings and music it

broadcasts all day long while at work and even in the evenings. It

is like being in a full-day Bible school. Mr. Camping, who is the

President and General Manager of Family Radio, has been a tremendous

challenge to my walk with the Lord. Once a week, he also teaches us

from the Scriptures on the things of God. It took a couple of years

of study with him before I could see that tongues, dreams and visions

are no longer valid. Well, that was the end of my zeal for the

Charismatic movement.

Seeing from the inside how the Lord guides and blesses the ministry

of Family Radio day to day is also a tremendous experience as well.

My family has been given the annual privilege of attending the

Family Radio summer Bible conferences every year since the time I

first served at Family Radio. The Summer Bible conferences have been

the source of encouragement and learning as well as fun for the whole

family. To see my children grow in the fear and nurture of the Lord

is a great delight, not to mention the pleasure I experience as my

wife becomes a better friend and companion and further enriches my

life. I am indeed a happy and fulfilled man in Christ Jesus.

While all this was happening in the States, I heard that the woman my

father was with had abandon him because he was dying of bleeding

ulcer. I went back to Korea to take care of my father. I brought my

father to my mother's apartment and ministered to him as much as I

knew how to until he died. I believed he died a saved man. And I

should be very happy to know that he died a born-again christian,

shouldn't I ? Yes, I was, but I felt that there was also a part of

me that was still angry with the way my father had lived his life and

wanted to see him pay for it himself. But then I realized, it was

Christ Jesus who paid the price on the cross for my father's hard-

to-forgive sins and evil lifestyle. There was actually nothing left

that should make me cry for vengeance.

That's when I fully understood the meaning of the parable of Matthew

20:1-16, the story of the laborer who received the same payment of a

penny even when he joined the labor force late. The grace that saved

me also saved my father. It is God who saves and it is His pleasure

that saves all those upon whom He will have mercy. None deserves His

mercy and grace. The fact that my father who hardened his heart so

long by sinful living could still come to God for mercy was the work

of wonderful grace.

Before then, I had been struggling to reconcile in my mind the free-

will doctrine of my church with the Calvinistic reformed doctrine of

Family Radio. But then all became clear to me that it is God's grace

alone and none of my works that caused me to be able to come to

salvation. I have no apologies now for my being a five point

Calvinist. I know from deep in my heart that it was God who guided

my life from birth until now to let me see that nothing of my own

ability or intellect could help me to attain the grace of God. It

was all by His good pleasure that I am what I am. He redeemed me by

His work on the cross and doubly won my heart by His patient dealings

with me over all these years.

How did He do that? He did it by first planting His Word in the

hearts of those who became good models for me and then finally

planting His Word in my own heart. He cleanses me daily by his

Word, not by the feeling that I experienced but by the washing of my

mind, heart and will by the pure water of the gospel. As a result, I

am more than persuaded that the Bible alone in its entirety is the

infallible Word of God, by which every man should live with faith,

and that Jesus Christ is the sole answer to all the problems of the

world. I have also resolved in my heart to live the rest of my life

as a witness of His grace and mercy. My goal is to declare as much

as I can of the blessed Word of God to the lost world.

Indeed it is by the grace Jesus showed by becoming poor that I am

made rich in Him. I was poor and totally depraved. But God in His

good pleasure made me not only one of His sons who are clothed in the

robes of the King's righteousness but also a joint heir with Jesus

Christ. What a rich man I am. Praise God!

"For ye know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though he was

rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, that ye through his

poverty might be rich." 2 Corinthians 8:9

Richard Yim. 1991.

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