Sunday, September 20, 2009

September 20 - Paul Chong Hasang, Martyr, Son of a Martyr, Missionary

Paul was the child of a powerful legacy. Growing up in Korea in a time that was hostile to Christians, Paul was only seven when his father and oldest brother were martyred on account of their faith. Paul's father had been one of the first Korean converts to Christianity and wrote the first Christian catechism in Korean. His father and brother refused to deny the Lord that had never denied them and this left a distinct and indelible mark upon Paul. They could not turn loose of their faith because their faith wouldn't let them go. Finally, it cost them their lives which they gave as a testament to the truth of their Gospel and love of their Lord.


Paul and his mother were spared execution and exiled into the rural parts of Korea in the Empire's desperate attempt to apply a tourniquet to the spread of the Faith. They hoped that the execution of some would give the survivors a fear to spread with them into exile. As is so often the case when the World hopes to stop the spread of the Faith, this only fanned the flames and the story that Paul and his mother carried with them was of valiant faith and unquenchable passion. Paul's mother raised Paul and his other siblings in the faith that their father and brother had died in the embrace of.


As Paul grew older he began to work for a government interpreter and travel with him to Beijing with some regularity. This gave Paul a particular set of opportunities that included speaking with the Chinese bishop and sending letters to the Pope through the bishop. His constant request was a plea for bishops and priests to be sent to Korea to provide leadership, teaching, and training. There was some hesitancy to do so because of Korea's stance toward the Faith they viewed as an infestation needing to be exterminated. However, much to Paul's relief and in answer to his prayers (and the prayers of many other Korean Christians) ministers were sent. They found Paul to be an eager student of theology and scripture and the bishop was prepared to ordain him to ministry when the Korean empire cracked down upon them and instigated a new wave of persecution.


Paul was drug before the judge and commanded to renounce his faith upon threat of execution. Echoing the voice of his father, brother, and countless other Christians, he provided a defense of his faith and continued to profess it to the judge. The judge was amazed at the clarity and passion in Paul's argument and admitted that it sounded to him that Paul was right but begged him simply to pretend to deny his faith so that his life might be spared and he might spread the faith he so loved. Paul refused because he knew well that denying his faith may grant him more days but it would not give him life. Instead, it would destroy any hope he had of offering life more abundant and free to those who sought it. So, Paul refused to deny his faith. The judge said, “You are right...but the king forbids this religion, it is your duty to renounce it.” Paul responded, “I have told you that I am a Christian, and will be one until my death.”


For this, Paul was tortured. He did not offer anger or malice to his torturers but instead proclaimed the good news that Jesus had died for them and been raised from the dead victorious over all things. They continued to torture him until he was crucified. He died 38 years after his father and joined them in their rest and comfort in the presence of God.

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