There’s a lot of good stuff we can take from Sean’s testimony. The most glaring is simply God’s sovereignty in the people and circumstances He used to bring about Sean’s conversion. But what else do you see? We can see that salvation comes from hearing the Word of God. We see the patience and loving kindness of a wife married to an unbeliever. We also see hope that people can come to faith later in life, despite having a family and career. And we see that soften hearts and forgiveness are the work of our God.
The next time you hear a testimony, ask yourself what you can learn from it and how you can encourage others. Thank you Sean for your words and service to our church!
I was born in Seoul, Korea in 1959. My family immigrated to the US in 1974.
My family attended a church in Korea, and we continued attending church when we settled our lives in Los Angeles.
I met my wife, Stephanie, at the campus of UC Davis when she was a freshmen and I was a sophomore.
We dated a couple of years and got engaged. We were married in 1984. I was a Seventh Day Adventist and Stephanie was a Catholic. We had to find a neutral place for our wedding, so we ended up getting married by a pastor from a Presbyterian church.
Our marriage had a rocky start. We constantly argued, and both of us tried to control the other person. Looking back, it really is by the grace of God that we are still together and have our family.
Stephanie started to attend Grace Community Church’s Every Korean Women’s Grace Bible study. That’s when I began to notice a significant change in Stephanie’s behavior. She had peace and tranquility. Her arguments with me decreased and she was submissive towards me. I could not understand why there was such change in her character and behavior, but, I wasn’t complaining. I was very happy with her and encouraged her to continue to attend Bible Study. That was her living testimony to me.
My career had a big change, and by this time, I was a small business owner of athletic shoe store in North Pasadena. I was working seven days a week. We had two daughters by this time. Nicole 6, Megan 2. One day, I came home from the shoe store, and I noticed a note written by Nicole. It said “Daddy, do you love me? I don’t see you anymore”. It broke my heart. It woke me up. It made to think about what is important in life, and I decided to spend one day with my family. I started to take Sunday off from working at the store. But, every Sunday morning, while Stephanie took Nicole and Megan with her to church, I was at home enjoying NFL on TV. I realized that I wasn’t really spending any time with my family, so, I decided to follow them to Grace Community Church on Sundays.
I liked the music and singing, but as soon as Dr. John McArthur got up at the pulpit, I would fall asleep. This went on for a couple of years without any changes in my life.
On April 29, 1992, the Los Angeles riots occurred. I remember the day like it happened yesterday. The day after the riots began in South Central of Los Angeles, I was at my shoe store located in North Pasadena.
I was in the back of store keeping my eyes on TV to be informed of riots its development in Los Angeles. At that moment I saw an old convertible Cadillac filled with about 8 or 9 African-American teenagers without shirts on, making a sudden stop right front of my store. They jumped out of the car. Heading toward to my store. My instinct took over. I wanted to lock up the front door preventing them from entering to my store. It was of no use. They forced the door open and started to loot. When I tried to stop them, they started to beat me. I was punched in my face, kicked, and cursed at. Blood started to flow out of my split lips. They took the cash register, broke the store window, and took merchandise. I was lying on the floor helplessly and looking at the ruined store. I was devastated, lost, sad and angry.
The shoe store was my livelihood. It provided for my family financially. As a head of family, I operated the store in order to provided a roof over our head and put food on the table. I was angry, angry enough to kill the men who did this to me and my family. I felt justified to pull a trigger if I had a gun. My heart was full of hate, anger, and revenge.
I called my wife, Stephanie, to let her know what happened. As I was driving through the neighborhood of North Pasadena to go home, I saw some African-American people on the street. They all looked like thugs to me. I wanted to go out and hurt them if I could. I wanted revenge.
The following Sunday, I went to Grace Community Church just like any other Sunday. The only thing unusual about this Sunday from other Sundays was that I was wearing sunglasses in the worship center to cover my black eyes and it was very first time that I did not fall asleep during the sermon. I remember vividly what Dr. McArthur said that day. He said “all pastors in the US will talk about what happened last Thursday, and I am no exception.” But, what he preached that day change my life.
He was telling me I am no different than those thugs who stole things from innocent people, burned the store down, hurt people or even killed a person during the riot in the eyes of God. Dr. McArthur was saying that God sees me as a person no different than those robbers and murderers because of my sin. I thought to myself, “What are you saying? How can it be? I am a hard working, law abiding citizen, well educated, doing a good work kind of person, and God sees me as a person no different than those thugs?”
I struggled with this truth. The Holy Spirit guided my heart to clearly see that I am a sinner who cannot save myself. I am a sinner who needs a Savior in order to be rescued from the eternal hell. Without Jesus Christ, I will be in the lake of fire along with those robbers and murderers. I am a sinner! (Romans 3:23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God)
I broke down and asked Jesus Christ to be my Savior and Lord. My life turned around 180 degrees. I wanted to know more about Jesus, wanted to know what Bible says. I was hungry for teaching of truth through Bible. I was so thankful for Jesus gave up His life for me on the cross. (Ephesians 2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God)
Then, I received a letter from Pastor of Grace Community Church. He said he heard about what happened to me during the riot. It was very caring, heart moving letter and showed that he really cared about me. He wanted me to contact him if I wanted to talk to him about anything.
So, I called him up and invited him to my store. A few days later, a tall African-American person walked into my store. He was the pastor who sent me the letter. His name was Carl Hargrove.
I asked him to be my spiritual mentor and guide me through Bible. We met once every week to study the Bible for next two years. Though this guidance I was growing in my faith.
A few years later, Carl Hargrove became my brother-in-law by marrying Stephanie’s younger sister Joanna. How ironic it is for me to be beaten up by black men and God used a black man to mentor me. (Romans 8:28 And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose)
It is God’s grace, His mercy, His compassion to me, His love, His sacrifice, it is all Him!!! I had done nothing. Only thing I deserved is to be thrown into the lake of fire because of my sins. But, Jesus in His merciful and compassion, saved me.
Praise Him!!! He is my Savior and Lord!!! I want to live my life to glorify Him forever.