Saturday, 19 July 2014

My grandmother and her gracious God

Just a couple of days ago, my grandmother passed away. She lived to a ripe old age, but her life was not without significant amount of suffering.

When she was pregnant with my mum and her twin sister, communists took her husband away, and she never saw him again. She became a refugee during the Korean War and travelled, on foot and by train, with her five children, from the North to Busan, the southern-most city of South-Korea’s mainland. She meticulously hid all her money while she travelled to keep it safe from thieves, only to lose it all to a con man.

Busan was over-crowded with refugees and she could not find any accommodation. After taking shelter under a bridge for few nights, with nothing to eat, she pondered whether to simply kill all her children and commit a suicide herself. Eventually, someone told her to go and ask for a shelter at a church. The church was already filled with refugees beyond its capacity, but the gate-keeper took pity on her and her tiny new-born twins, and took them inside.

She made living by buying some clothes from the US military, dyeing them to make them look different, then selling them at a civilian market. It wasn’t entirely legal, but the times were hard for everyone and she got by for a while.

Eventually, and quite extraordinarily, all of her 5 children survived, grew up and received good education. My grandmother herself was never taught how to read and write, but she learned to do so, partly because she had to for business, but also because she wanted to read her bible. Her hand-writing always looked like that of a second grade kid, but she read her bible with ease and clarity.

Her children all got married, and in time, she was blessed with 8 grandchildren and 9 great-grandchildren. She was never able to visit her homeland, somewhere in the mid-western part of North-Korea.

She was reasonably healthy for her age, especially when you consider the kind of abuse her body had to endure when she was younger. However, in recent years, with the onset of dementia, she deteriorated rapidly in terms of health as well as mental capacity. The near-loss of her moral judgment was particularly saddening, but her bible, and I believe, her Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ was never too far from her.

On the 16th of July, 2014, my grandmother was finally released from her suffering. By the grace of God, my grandmother was saved from her sins and this decaying world, and she will resurrect one day in new heaven and earth, with the new glorious body, forever to praise God’s mercy. By the grace and wisdom of God, I came to exist through her family, and was taught the glorious gospel from my youth, and look forward to standing along side my grandmother and joining in everlasting songs of praise to our gracious God who is mighty to save.

"[God] will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away." (Revelation 21:4 ESV)

In 2012, with her then youngest great-grandchild, John.


Neals on Wheels said...


Just Read about your Grandmother. What an amazing woman and such an example to the generations to come.
Your family and your children are lucky to have this story in their family history.

Timothy Wonil Lee said...

Thanks, Judy! (I'm guessing this was Judy! :-)
I do thank God for His grace towards my grandmother and my family.