A woman who finished her life well

I didn’t get a permission to write about her. I trust it is okay. If not, I deeply apologize to her family. It is about Joyce Kim’s mother who passed away last Sunday. Joyce came to New Life a few years ago from another church in Houston where there was basically no English speaking ministry. When she joined us, she served faithfully in our youth group, invited her friends persistently to her house church and helped them to be saved by bringing them to Receiving Jesus Meeting. During the brief time I got to know her, I sensed that there was a deep respect and appreciation for God, God’s word, church, pastor and pastor’s wife in her. Now, I know where these qualities came from and how they have become part of her life.

My wife and I went to the wake service on Tuesday evening because I couldn’t go to the funeral service on Wednesday morning. The funeral home was pretty full. The pastor of the church where Joyce’s mom had attended and served faithfully for 27 years ever since she and her family immigrated to Houston from Korea shared a message on God’ timing. It was good. Then, her son, Johnny, came out and gave eulogy.

Two things from his eulogy caught my attention in a very thought provoking way. He said his mom was the best teacher and she taught him how to honor God, love God’s word and do whatever it takes to share the Gospel of our Lord Jesus.

In 2004, his high school orchestra, which he was a part of, was asked to come and perform the national anthem during the Super Bowl where Beyonce was also going to do the half time show. It was going to be on Sunday. When he told his mom about it, she said, “Of course you can’t go because you have to go to church to worship God!” He asked her if she even knew who Beyonce was and she didn’t. But his mom didn’t care who Beyonce was. She cared only about God. He ended up not going and was very upset at her. He was only a high school freshman then. But now, he realizes how much his mom loved and honored God.

Some Christians who seem to be very astute in theology or emphasize God’s grace over law may say that she was very legalistic in her Christian life. I beg to differ. For her, worshiping God on Sunday with other Christian brothers and sisters was a non-negotiable thing in her walk with Christ. Christians these days seem too loose and lax. Almost anything and everything seems to be okay and acceptable and there seems to be no non-negotiables in our lives. But, how will people in this world be able to see the inner reality of our faith and devotion to Christ if it doesn’t get expressed outwardly? For Joseph, it was a refusal to go to bed with his boss’ wife. For Daniel and his three friends, it was a refusal to bow down to the idol. For Joyce’ mom, it was her participation in Sunday corporate worship. For us, what is it? What will show this world that we are followers of Jesus?
Joyce’s mom would also take her son to share the Gospel in front of Korean grocery stores. Business owners usually don’t like people passing out the tracks and telling people to believe in Jesus in front of their stores. So, she told them that she will take care of all the shopping carts in the parking lots and organize them if they would let her pass out the tracks. Was this method of evangelism effective? Did many people come to know Christ through her and her son passing out the tracks in front of these Korean grocery stores? Chances are it wasn’t effective and not that many people probably came to know Christ by getting the tracks from them. And if I am not mistaken, it most likely was her pastor who encouraged and challenged his church members to go out and pass out the tracks to reach out to people. He didn’t know any better what would be the most effective way to reach out to people. We know because of house church. But until I came to Houston, I didn’t know any better either and passing out the tracks was one of the things I did to share Christ with people. However, Joyce’s mom obeyed and did what she was taught to do to share the Gospel. She was committed to share the Gospel and was obedient to her pastor.

She was only 57 years old, just six years older than me. But why did God allow her to leave this world so young in her age? I don’t know. No one knows. But my speculation is that she has completed her God-given assignment so well that there was no more reason for her to linger around here. It was time for her to go home to be with her Father. She loved God deeply with all of her heart. She treasured God’s word sweetly. She cherished and cared for her family joyfully. She served and prayed for her church sacrificially. And she obeyed her pastor respectfully. She truly lived and finished her life well. We will miss her.

Your pastor,

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