He raised his head and slowly lifted his tear-filled eyes after a brief but sincere prayer. I had never met this man before, but his first words to me as I sat down were, “I’m going home.”
So was I. After an enjoyable ministry to a convention of missionaries from Brazil and Urugary, I was headed home. But I had only been away from home for three weeks. He had been gone from home for more that 30 years.
Little did I realize that this small oriental man had suffered so much for so long. The Brazilian airliner was not far into its flight from Sao Paulo to Rio de Janeiro before we learned we were fellow believers. Afterwards he began to unburden his heart.
I was thrilled to learn that he was a pastor from Korea, and found he had been in San Paulo for all these years. Nothing about his conversation seemed unusual until he said, “I wish I could see your homeland. But I can’t I’m a North Korean and I am changing planes in Rio.
“Brazil was open to some of us after the war, and for all these years I have served the Lord here in Brazil. But now I’m going home.”
Further conversation revealed the man had been led to Christ by the pastor of a large church during the conflict between North and South Korea. His conversion took place in a refugee camp where he had sought safety after escaping from his own detachment after an argument with his commanding officer.
In time, the new Christian left his divided homeland in search of freedom. He settled in South America. Steadily his love for Christ grew and his desire to share the unsearchable riches of Christ prevailed.
As I thought of our common calling—both of us were preachers---I reflected on our differences. He was born in an oppressive society. I was born in a democracy. He came to Christ as he knelt in the mud of a smelly, crowded refugee village. I was saved in a lovely little church. He sought freedom from captivity in order to preach. I have always had freedom to preach about the One of whom I am bound—a slave of love.
He longed for home but until now was afraid to return. I am free to return home anytime. Nothing but my own cares or desires keep me away.
We were two different men from two different worlds. Yet because we had met the same Savior, we shared the same hope.
Now, both of us long to enter that place where differences of government, ideology, and race will not matter. We dream of the day when people from the four corners of the earth will come together as the sea and graves give up their dead. You see, we’re ready to go home!
“After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands;” -- Rev. 7:9