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Touched By God’s Grace
October 20, 2012
By Jessica Root
Intern Reporter for the Tribune
On March 28, 2008 I started my career as a writer; that I know for certain. I was in seventh grade at BCMS trying to fit in when all along I was born to stand out.
Mrs. Sheri Hand, my Advanced Studies Language Arts teacher, inspired my love of writing. The way she expressed her passion for the art provoked me to cling to her every word.
In the weeks leading up to March 28, 2008, Mrs. Hand assigned us a journal project. The class shared inspirational stories in each others’ journals and then each individual sent off their journal to a relative or friend so it could collect more inspirational stories over the next few months. This is how Timothy Chung’s life touched mine.
My grandmother, Jane Joseph, took the responsibility of collecting stories in my journal. About midsummer Timothy’s story was entered, and there it rested for four years.
Timothy Chung’s Story
For weeks my grandmother has been urging me to do a story about Timothy. Now 90 years old and a United States citizen, Chung was born, raised and imprisoned in China.
While working in the Shanghai Gospel Hospital at age 36, Timothy was accused of being a collaborator with the Japanese, opposing the display of Chairman Mao’s portrait, sympathizing with the critics of the government and having attempted to go to South Korea to be an interpreter for the United Nations’ army.
“I was branded as a ‘counter-revolutionary,’ and sentenced to three and a half years in a labor camp for ‘re-education through labor,’” Timothy said.
However, it was actually 21 years before Timothy would be released.
When I first asked Timothy about China, he replied, “No, I don’t want to go to China.” Feeling defeated, I asked him to talk to me about his life now – his life in the United States since he arrived here at age 63.
My grandmother, a devoted woman of God, got him talking about his past, and now I not only have his story in my journal but also as an audio recording.
Timothy shared with me the unconditional faith he had during his time in prison, even when he was presented with the opportunity to get out if he renounced it.
“Having been saved for seventy-four years, I remain to be a Christian devoid of merits, and weak in faith, but Jesus loves me very much. Whenever I return to Him and confess my sins, He forgives all my sins. Despite my unworthiness, God has performed miracle upon miracle and poured out His grace again and again to deliver me from many insurmountable difficulties,” Timothy said.
In July of 1979, at the age of 57, Chung was released from the labor camp. This was God’s work; Timothy’s sister, Beatrice, lived in the U.S. and asked many brothers and sisters to pray for her brother’s release. Just one month before Timothy’s release, Brother Robert Ewing asked the saints in the Grace Gospel Campgrounds Church in Waco, Texas to fast and pray for Timothy’s release.
“Reviewing my life in the labor camp in retrospect, I thank God for giving me the grace to witness to both the Communists and my fellow inmates that I was a Christian and that Jesus was my Lord and God,” Timothy said.
Although he was no longer imprisoned, Timothy still could not request for a job, rent a room or subside for living. However, God helped Timothy in his time of need: a church in Montana sent money to the persecuted Christians in China through Beatrice. Along with being a beneficiary of these funds, Timothy also helped distribute them.
During this time, Timothy noticed the lack of Bibles in China. They were banned by the government.
“My heart was broken, and I asked that God would send the Bibles into China,” Timothy said.
God did just that. Six young Christian brothers and sisters from Hong Kong visited Timothy at his home, and before they left they gave him many Bibles, cassette tapes, Hymn books and gospel brochures.
“After that sovereign connection, I was able to receive the Bibles from Hong Kong from time to time,” Timothy said.
Timothy also made a connection with Missionaries from the Alliance Church, and they too provided him with Bibles to distribute from time to time.
In February of 1981, Timothy received a letter from Hong Kong informing him that 100 copies of the Bible would be delivered to him soon. The strict censorship of letters in China exposed Timothy’s Bible distribution at this time. He was summoned to the Public Security Bureau for interrogation by a team of three officers. The interrogation sessions lasted for eight hours each day for 10 days.
“I used to think highly of myself that I would be able to suffer or even die for Christ, but reality gave quite a different account of me. Whenever I stepped into the interrogation room, fear prevailed over me. I felt a chill both in my hands and feet. I sensed the powers of darkness dominating over the office. Realizing my own frailty and timidity, I prayed that God would strengthen me and keep me from dishonoring His holy name. One morning, before I reported myself to the Public Security Bureau, in my prayer I cried out, ‘Lord, I yield to you! I am to lay down myself and my all on the altar, prepared to be chopped to pieces and burned!’” Timothy said. “After that prayer, there was peace in my heart and my fears were gone. Praise the Lord! It was the Lord who went before me and did battle for me!”
The Public Security Bureau intended to track down the Bible smuggling network, but Timothy had secretly notified the saints in Hong Kong to stop contacting him. The interrogation sessions failed; however, Timothy was refused a passport as a consequence of his participation in the Bible smuggling network.
From 1980 to 1984, Timothy applied for a passport four times and was denied every time. However, in 1984, Brother Gary Kroeze went to Kansas City as a missionary. Through Beatrice, Brother Gary learned of Timothy’s struggle and asked the saints in Kansas City Fellowship to fast and pray for the Timothy’s passport application to be accepted.
“While the people in Kansas City were fasting and praying for me, I again handed an application to the Exit Permit Department at the Public Security Bureau in Shanghai. The chief of the department turned out to be the former leader of the interrogation team who had interrogated me for my involvement in the Bible distribution,” Timothy said. “The moment I saw his face, I was awakened to his defying spirit toward out God. Once during an interrogation he had arrogantly said to me, ‘No one can deliver you; not even the God you believe in!’ As I went home, I prayed that if God would grant me a passport, He would let me receive it from the very man who had defied His holy name.”
In December of 1984, Timothy’s wife received word that Timothy would be able to receive his passport. The next day, the chief of the Exit Permit Department handed Timothy his passport. On January 19, 1985, Timothy left China for the United States.
Timothy’s story in my journal stops here. After his arrival in the U.S., Timothy took a job as a janitor with the International House of Prayer-Kansas City (IHOP-KC). For 13 years, he worked as a janitor. He earned love and respect from all who have been blessed with the chance to meet him.
Two Worlds Collide
While I was meeting with Timothy in the United States, my father was in China for business. Kevin Root, a manager at Harcos Chemicals in Kansas City, Kansas, was in China for the third time to lead the development of a new chemical plant in Shanghai.
God works in mysterious ways, but his way always prevails. You can plan and wish and hope and dream, but God already knows what your future holds. It’s funny; on Monday morning, just hours before meeting with Timothy, I tweeted “#HighSchoolMadeMeRealize you can plan & wish & hope & dream as much as you want, but in the end, God’s plan ALWAYS prevails.”
It’s no coincidence that Timothy’s story remained untouched under my bed until now: the week my father visited China. By God’s Grace, China has impacted my life and it has also impacted my father’s.
We Skype with my father during his trips to China, and this particular time he shared with us that there is a chicken shortage in the country. This means duck is served instead, and unfortunately it does not taste like chicken.
Though he is starving and ready to be back in the United States, my father has enjoyed one experience in China tremendously: church. My father attended a Catholic Church service in Shanghai, and though the entire service was spoken in Chinese, my father felt the Holy Spirit.
“There’s no doubt that God’s on the other side of the world too,” my father said.
Timothy isn’t living in Shanghai anymore, but he is still alive to learn that Christ is allowed in the hearts of the people who live there now. By God’s Grace, the Shanghai Timothy once knew has been saved.
Give It to God
Now retired, Timothy spends his days at him home in Grandview. He often shares his inspiring story at IHOP-KC conferences.
Timothy is fascinated with the always-evolving technology. I actually had the honor of assisting him with uploading photos of his 90th birthday party to Facebook – the least I could do after asking him to pray for me.
While listening to Timothy’s story, my mind was racing. In the midst of it, I came to the conclusion that I wanted this man to pray for me.
Timothy and I bowed our heads. Never before had I asked a man of such dedicated faith to pray for a young sinner like me. Timothy admitted to the Lord that we are weak. He asked the Lord to be with us so that we might live like Him.
Timothy thanked God for my grandmother bringing me to meet him. He asked that God be with my grandmother and mother as they guide me on my journey. Little did Timothy know, but my mother and I were currently fighting a battle that had no reason. At that moment, God lifted the bitterness toward my mother from my heart. The tears began to well up.
Then Timothy asked God to be with me on my journey as a journalist. This man that had welcomed me into his home as a stranger just an hour before was asking God to bless me with a voice in this world. A single tear rolled down my cheek.
Four years ago, in the same journal where Timothy’s story is recorded, I recorded who I was at the time and what I hoped my own story would be:
“Jessica attends Bernard Campbell Middle School in Lee’s Summit, Missouri where she gets a great education from her marvelous teachers. Her mother, father and two brothers are always there to support her in everything she does. Jessica is currently in all ACE (advanced) classes at BCMS.
She plays the clarinet in the Honor’s Band at school. Jessica is doing very well in school thanks to her loving, supporting family, and hopes to continue to do so. Jessica has always been an active person.
When she was little, she danced, and in third grade she fell in love with cheerleading. When she is not at school, she is cheering with her competitive team at Spirit Zone. She hopes to be a part of the BCMS Cheerleading Squad with tryouts this spring.
This is a personal goal for which she has been striving. Jessica has many other goals for her bright future. For her career, she hopes to be a journalist because she really loves to write. Being a journalist would allow her to travel around the world, which is something she has always wanted to do.
Of course, she wants to go to college, but she hasn’t looked into it enough to know which specific one she would like to attend. Once she gets her career going, she would like to start a family, maybe in California. Overall, Jessica knows she will have a very promising future. Jessica thanks everyone who contributes to this journal very much. She worked very hard to put it all together, and wants you to do the same when adding your piece.
This journal could be really outstanding if everyone does his/her very best when adding their pieces. When receiving this journal once again, Jessica knows she will love all the great stories that have been added. Thanks again for adding stories to the journal!”
Like Timothy, I am weak in faith, but I know Jesus loves me very much. For a little over a year now, I have been striving to live by the phrase, “Give it to God.” I even had it engraved inside my class ring, which I wear every day.
God brought Timothy into my life to show me what faith can do. I want to thank my grandmother for connecting Timothy and I, even though it took me four years to realize it. I am blessed to be able to share Timothy’s story and my own with the Tribune.
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