My Grandmother

During the 10-day special morning prayer meetings we had last January, I preached from the book “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn. The subject of heaven made me think of my grandmother, whom I hope to see first when I go to heaven.

My grandmother had a warm and loving heart. When I was in high school, most students wore army boots because they were inexpensive and durable. In the winter, she warmed my boots near the stove before I wore them so that my feet wouldn’t get cold. When making soup, she always replaced the soup in my bowl with fresh soup from the pot right before I ate so that I could eat hot soup from a warmed-up bowl.

On New Year’s Eve, she would send me on errand. Although we were not rich, she had me buy coal, meat, or eggs and deliver them to poor families. Boys in their teens don’t like to go on errands like this, especially when it involves carrying grocery bags, but I didn’t mind. Actually, I enjoyed it.

My grandfather, a pastor, was one of 6 people in his denomination in Korea who died for their faith during the Korean War. He was officially declared a martyr by the Korean Christian organization that built a memorial hall for martyrs.

He was an honest, respected man, but a terrible breadwinner. His salary was so meager that my grandmother supported her family by providing room and board for other pastors’ sons and daughters who came to Seoul to study.

My grandmother stopped attending Sunday services after my grandfather was gone, saying that her health was too poor to sit through long services. But everybody knew that she didn’t come to church because she didn’t want to make the new pastor and his wife feel uncomfortable by attracting church members’ attention.

However, there was a steady stream of visitors at our house, most of them female Christian workers and pastors’ wives. The wife of Pastor Sund-Bong Lee, a well-known evangelist of the time, used to visit my grandmother and stayed from early in the morning until late at night, sometimes both of them lying down and talking. As I recall, my grandmother usually said nothing but just listened, sometimes for hours.

I think that she liked me most out of her many descendants because my father was her first son, and I was her first grandson. She and I lived together the longest. She lived with us when I was at Ohio State University for graduate school. She came and lived nearby when I got a job in California. She died there when she was 92 years old.

Many people came to her funeral from all over the States. She was buried like a celebrity although she never went to school in her entire life (she taught herself to read and write). People shared stories about how she loved, encouraged, and helped them. One attendee commented that the atmosphere felt like a wedding rather than a funeral.

I am so thankful to Jesus who provided a place called heaven so that I will see her again.

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