A Thanksgiving Story filled With Grace

Today is the Sunday before Thanksgiving. I would like to share a story among the writings of Reverend Kim Jin-Hong about a moving story of Thanksgiving. Back in 1970s, he was working among the poor in the slums of Chung-Kae Chun, when the slum became demolished and all residents were moved to Nam-Yang Man, which was a new settlement on some reclaimed land. This was a very moving Thanksgiving story among great struggles against poverty. This is a long story so I shortened it some but I tried to include most parts.

After we successfully moved into the reclaimed land, we prepared to plant the rice seedlings in the salty land. But we received a letter from the Minister of Agriculture and Fisheries. The letter said, ‘the land had too much salty content so do not plant rice this year as you will fail if you tried to plant rice. If you try and fail, we will not be responsible.’ So the residents held a meeting in the church. “Pastor, we used all our savings to move to this land, if we do not farm this year, what will we eat?” Toward end, one resident said, “Gentlemen, God does the farming. Does the Minister farming? Let’s continue believing in God”. Everyone took heart at this and they decided to continue with planting the rice seedlings.

When they started, serious thing happened. The seedling could not take root in the salty water. They expected to fail a few times and continued with the plantings. After three times, the laughter disappeared from the village. Only solution was for the rains to come to wash the salt away from the rice paddies. But the sky did not have one speck of cloud and the seedlings burned red due to salt boiling out of the land with the strong sunlight.

We obtained enough seedlings from others around us for the 4th planting. If this failed, we would become truly a group of beggars. After finishing with the planting, all villagers gathered at the banks around the rice paddies and prayed. “God, please send rain so that the salt will be washed away. Please send clouds to cover the sun so that the seedlings can take root.” But the cloudless sky only shined with stars. But we continued to pray with the feeling that we will either die or live. Then as the night became deeper, rains began to come down and it turned into a thunderstorm in the early morning. How can I describe the heartfelt feelings we felt at that time? With the shout, “it is raining”, the whole village went into celebration.

The rains continued for one week. The rice took root and grew very strong and ended up with a bumper harvest. On the third week of that year, the whole village come together in the church to cook with new rice, make rice cakes, and with the made spicy soup with the fish from the sea, and gave thanksgiving worship service. In that place, there was no difference between the believers and the unbelievers. After the worship service, everyone shared the meals with tears in their eyes. “What meal is this? We do not prepare it! It is provided from Heaven! Let us eat abundantly!”

Even now, I truly believe that God answered our prayers that year. Prayer will bring miracles. Prayer will change impossible into possible.

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