Yi Ki-Poong
By ijeab

Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?… I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting… Now get up and stand on your feet. I have appeared to you to appoint you as a servant and as a witness of what you have seen and will see of me. Acts 26:14b-16

When Ki-Poong was baptised a Christian by a Presbyterian missionary to Korea in 1894, it was a remarkable turnaround for the young man who had stoned the first foreign missionary he ever saw.

Ki-Poong was serious about his new found Christian faith and felt that he should attend a theological seminary in Pyongyang. He graduated in 1907 and was shortly afterwards ordained a minister. This led to his volunteering to be a missionary and he was sent to a remote island off the south coast of Korea as the first Korean missionary there. Here he was stoned – but this did not lead to his martyrdom. This came about during World War II when he was imprisoned and tortured by the Japanese for this faith. Ki-Poong died as a result of tortures and deprivation.

Amazing grace! How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me!
I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas grace that taught my heart to fear,
And grace my fears relieved;
How precious did that grace appear
The hour I first believed.

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come;
‘Tis grace hath brought me safe thus far,
And grace will lead me home.

John Newton (1725-1807)

Dr Patrick Sookhdeo is the International Director of Barnabas Fund and the Executive Director of the Oxford Centre for Religion and Public Life.