Love your enemies

I just want to share a story about Rev. Sohn Yang Won for his tremendous love towards people, including his enemies who murdered his two sons in 1948.

Rev. Sohn ministered a congregation in the southern port city of Yosu, in Korea. In 1940 he refused to order his parishioners to pay homage to the emperor at Shinto shrine which the Japanese placed at the entrance to every Korean Christian church. The Japanese political police sent Rev. Sohn in prison for five years. With liberation he was released, the Sohn family reunited.

The cities of Yosu and Sunchon revolt on October 1948 unleashed a disaster. The Yosu rebels killed some Korean National policemen who surrendered. The rebel frenzy spread throughout Sunchon, and mob of crazed youths roamed the city in search of worthy victims: police families, officials, and Christian notable of all ages. At the college where Dong-In and Dong-Shin (Rev. Sohn’s sons) study at, a fellow student denounced the Sohn brothers. Five rebels, including the informer, found the Sohn brother sat a church deacon’s home and dragged them into the street. Beaten and tortured by their captors, Don-In and Dong-Shin refused to renounce their faith. Rather, they boldly preached their faith to them. The rebels tired of their fun and finally shot the brothers.

The troops of the Korean policemen came to Sunchon on October 22nd to recapture the city. Among the suspects brought in by the police, there are the five youths who had murdered the Sohn brothers. At the trial of his sons’ killer, Rev. Yang-Won Sohn gave his sermon about forgiveness. He saved the youths from a death sentence, and he even saved the informer from jail by offering to adopt him as a replacement son. The new son fulfilled all of Rev Sohn’s hopes. The youth became an ardent Christian and a better student.

Rev. Sohn wrote these ‘9 things to thank for’ at his sons funeral.

My God, I thank You, for having allowed martyrs to be born in the family of sinners such as mine.

My Lord, I thank You for having entrusted me, out of countless believers, with such precious treasures.

Among my three sons and three daughters, I thank You for my blessings through which I could offer You my two most beautiful children, my oldest and second oldest sons.

I thank You for the martyrdom for two of my children, when the martyrdom of one child in itself
is much more precious than I could bear.

I thank You for the martyrdom of my sons who were shot to death while they were preaching the gospel, when dying peacefully on his deathbed in itself is a tremendous blessing for a believer.

I thank You for my heart is at peace as my sons, who had been preparing to go and study in America, are now in a place that is much better than America.

God, I thank You for giving me a heart of love for repentance of the enemy who murdered my sons and compelling me to adopt him as my own son.

My Father God, I thank you for there will now be countless more sons of heaven through the fruit of the martyrdom of my sons.

I thank and thank Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has given me these eight truths in times of such adversity, the joyful heart seeking faith and love, and the faith that provides me with composure.

On the day of his two sons’ funeral in the morning of the 27th of October in 1948 the funeral place became a sea of tears after this thanksgiving address given by Rev. Sohn Yang Won. He had served the church named ‘the House of Love and Care.’

Do we have the courage to forgive our enemy like he did?

Reference: 손양원의 9가지 감사

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