Tribute to my father

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Puritan Board Sophomore
My wife's father passed away about two years ago and she wrote a moving tribute to him. I would like to share this tribute with all of you on this board. I hope that all of you will have a happy holiday season.

In The Memory of the Faithful Servant of God, Pastor Kang Yoon Yi, My Father, My Hero

Pastor Yi was born in the darkest age of Korean History. In July 22, 1931 in a little village named Yi-Chon in Kyung Gi province near Seoul while Japan was invading Korea. Some of you know that the Japanese took away Korea’s freedom, economy, industry, culture, language, individual’s name, many young virgin daughters to use as prostitutes for their army, and they forced Koreans to worship their Japanese ancestors; if anyone refused(mostly Christians), they got tortured and persecuted. Many Christians died at the hand of the Japanese. More over Japanese used Korean people for all kinds of medical experiments just like guinea pigs including venereal diseases, and they laughed about it as Koreans were leaving the building with horrible itchy bodies after they were injected. The Japanese sucked every drop of Korean’s blood for their prosperity. It is hard to describe what the Japanese people did to Koreans. Koreans suffered from hunger and terrifying oppression for 36 years during the Japanese invasion. As a result, young Yi had to attend a grade school which was 10 miles away from his home. The Japanese teachers forced them to learn Japanese and all other subjects in Japanese. It was forbidden to speak Korean amongst all their friends in school or anywhere else in public places. They even forced Koreans not to speak Korean or to use Korean names at home, and forbid to eat Korean food. As a young boy he was a tall, handsome and brilliant student. Even the Japanese teachers couldn’t help adoring him. One day a teacher called him privately and gave him a pair of sneakers and told him not to tell anybody. Now-a-days a pair of sneakers from a teacher might not be a big deal, but back then it was. The young boy Yi had never seen sneakers before. The shoes they wore were made of straw. I am sure that you can probably imagine how the young Yi felt about it. He couldn’t wear them. He carried them to school everyday.

Despite the fact that he had outstanding academic skills, after he finished the school year, he had to stay home and help his parents with farming. A few years later, young Yi couldn’t stand not doing anything while the nation was falling apart from the Japanese occupation. He told his parents that he needed more education. His family could not help him. They gave Yi just enough money for transportation to Seoul. He got a job at an ironsmith shop, and entered the machine industry high school. It was young Yi’s patriotic desire for him to choose that particular school. The Japanese closed down all the Korean machine industry high schools except one in the entire nation, because Japanese needed dumb slaves, not an intelligent work force. Young Yi had a passion to change Korea. Yi realized that simple farming can not help Korea’s economic growth. He studied very hard. He rented some one’s attic where there was no heat in winter. The weather was like Wisconsin’s climate. He only had a light bulb for heat and he had to fight harsh weather and hunger while he was studying. Although young Yi was in a brutal situation, he grew with dignity and integrity.

On June 25, 1950 the Korean War started. As a young man Yi had to join the army. He became a Korean Army officer. While Yi was fighting North Korean soldiers, the enemies were defending a mountain and the Korean soldiers were crossing the river towards the mountain to take it over. Bullets came from all directions, just like a rain shower. Officer Yi got shot 6 times and he lost so much blood that he became very weak and thirsty. Yi pleaded with God, even though he didn’t know God at that time, that if He spares his life, he will live his life for Him. God answered him and spared his life. On July 27, 1953 the Korean War ended and his wounds had been healed. Officer Yi stayed in the army, and soon, he forgot about his vow which he took.

After the war, Korean army carefully selected ten young intelligent officers to send to U.S. Army Officers Training School for the advanced education as an officer to U.S.. Officer Yi was one of those ten among all the Korean Army officers. Yi came to the U.S. with his fellow officers and studied hard. An important member of the faculty in the training school recognized officer Yi’s extraordinary personality and academic achievements. He offered to help Yi to stay in the U.S. for more education and promised to support him. Even though Officer Yi wanted to stay in the U.S., he remembered the promise that he made with the Korean government that he would come back after his training. Instead, he recommended one of his fellow officers to the faculty member. Yi came back to Korea after 1year training. Officer Yi got promoted faster than anyone until his health began to fail. There was no reason why officer Yi became ill and was hospitalized, but the cost significantly impacted officer Yi and his family. Not long after his illness, Officer Yi had to resign. In his last term of duty as a transportation commander in DaeJon, one day one of the soldiers came to commander Yi with a large sum of money that he wanted to share. The money came from a stolen machine which he took from the army. Officer Yi gave him the money back and told the solider quietly and firmly that he forgave the soldier and told him never do that again. Officer Yi replaced the equipment out of his own pocket. There were many episodes about soldier’s mistakes and faults under his authority. Whatever happened, he took responsibility for it. He didn’t have to, but he did anyway and showed many people what true leadership was. Back then, the Korean government could not pay enough salary to the soldiers for them to get by. Many soldiers stole army equipment to sell to make extra money for their living expenses. Yi hated iniquities and unrighteousness and his heart ached so many times because of the leaders above him who were corrupt. He almost got sick to death. Yi kept his dignity and integrity wherever he went, no matter how hard the situation was. That was his rule, to always be honest.

After he got out of the army, he tried running small businesses, he failed. He became very ill. Then he remembered God whom he took the vow when he was in the battle in the Korean War. He became a Christian and his illness was slowly healed. Although Yi felt that God called him to serve him as a minister he refused for 10 years. Yi’s family suffered greatly from poverty during those 10 years. Finally, he surrendered to God and went to seminary and graduated in 1989 at the age of 60. From the day he became a minister, he prayed day and night for his country, Christians, unbelievers, churches, families and friends. Pastor Yi’s heart was broken to see the Korean government become corrupt like the communists. He fasted and prayed for 28 days when he was 75, 40 days when he was 77, and 20 days when he was 78 for the Korean nation and all the churches in Korea. He lived a plain, simple life, and saved every penny to send to missionaries in the Philippines to build two churches before he passed away. He helped out many needy people from out of his own pocket including one widow’s son’s entire college tuitions. He handed out one million five hundred thousands gospel booklets to people on the street, on the train, on the bus, in different cities, and everywhere in public places for 3 years while he was in good health. When he was passing out the gospel booklets, he forgot about meal times and kept going until the day ended. No one knows how many people became a Christian from the labor of pastor Yi’s effort, but surely God blessed him in many ways. Some times while pastor Yi handed out the gospel booklets to the strangers on the streets, people who never met before donated hundreds and thousands of dollars to pastor Yi. Pastor Yi was very thankful to God. God encouraged pastor Yi through people who care about God’s kingdom.

Pastor Yi was a loving father to his children and wonderful husband to his wife. He loved his family so much, and he did the best for his own family. Even though Yi’s family suffered from poverty, he set examples of faithfulness, uprightness, honesty, justice, leadership, integrity, dignity and humility. He sacrificed his life for God’s kingdom, for his country and for his family until he passed away. Pastor Yi and his wife raised 3 boys and 3 girls. When one of his girls, who is a high school teacher in Korea, got married and had a child, pastor Yi encouraged his wife to go and help raise the grandchild while his daughter was teaching. So his wife went to their daughter’s home which was about 450 miles away, and their separation began when he was 72. He didn’t mind the difficulties from the separation with his wife in that old age. As usual, he never sought his own comfort. On January 2005, he went to a church on a mountain side to fast and pray. After 20 days of fasting and prayer, he didn’t take care of his weak body with the right nourishment and rest, and his health began to fail. He fought alone with his pain and he didn’t tell anyone until he collapsed where he was staying in his countryside church in September of 2005. His children brought him to a hospital in Seoul to examine his condition. It was cancer in his pancreatic duct. Four month later he gave up his soul and went to heaven where there is no more toil and suffering in God’s bosom at the age of 79 on Sunday, January 29, 2006 8:30 P.M. He was buried in the National Cemetery in DaeJon, Korea on Thursday, February 9, 2006.

He didn’t leave a penny behind for his children, but he left his children the most precious thing “a spiritual inheritance”. His children and his grandchildren will carry on his spiritual legacy, his passion for Christ, to honor and to glorify God until their last day just like pastor Yi did.

“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.
Finally, there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day, and not to me only but also to all who have loved His appearing.
– 2 Timothy 4:7-8

Written by Pastor Yi’s third child, first daughter Hyeon Morrow on December, 2006

This is the true story of my father’s life.
I use it only as a testimony for Christ, neither for individual praise nor to blame anyone.
May God bless whoever reads pastor Yi’s incredible spiritual journey.
Happy Holidays!

Hyeon, David, Esther, Sarah and Rachel Morrow



That was an awesome story. Thanks for sharing it. And God's richest blessings to you and your wife.
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