Sunday, September 14, 2008

Vili Grem and North Korea

I know I’ve said this before, but because it happens so often, I’m going to repeat it: God uses themes with me. Maybe it’s more like chapters. What I mean is that something or someone keeps popping up in my life. Something about it/them comes to my attention on several occasions within a short amount of time.

Or, maybe it is just a manifestation of the second and third chances He offers me so that I can finally catch on to what He’s trying to show me.

Although it can be, it is not usually a major life changing thing that God’s trying to show me. Often it is just something that heightens my sensitivity and enhances my relationship with Him or someone else.

It has happened again of the last couple of weeks. This time it’s Billy Graham and his family with a sub-plot of North Korea.

Last week on our not-quite-a-vacation, we took a day trip up from Pop’s to the Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, North Carolina. Pop had previously been with the senior adults from his church. He enjoyed it enough to want to go again and he wanted us to experience it too.

The grounds and gardens are beautiful. The displays and presentations are very well done. It was all so informative and interesting. You can read more about it if you click here.

I bet that most people, even those who do not profess to be Christians, when asked what they know about Billy Graham, would answer that he had some pastoral association with all of the United States Presidents since Harry Truman(I think it went back that far). That seems to be a well photo-documented and publicized tidbit.

What I discovered beyond that at the BG Library and what I found so amazing was his connection and relationship with so many leaders of foreign countries. There were a couple of photos that really struck me to the point that I just had to stop and stare. One was of Billy Graham with North Korean former dictator Kim Il Sung. How in the world did they ever have occasion to meet?

The second picture that had me riveted was of Billy Graham and Golda Meir. I don’t know much about the details of her life but I am so intrigued. How did a woman educated in the US get to be Prime Minister of Israel in the 1960s? I need to find a good biography on her!

The whole international phenomenon was unbelievable. In one of the displays there were envelopes of letters to Billy Graham that had very incomplete addresses. Some were from other countries. Somehow, they all found their way to the right place. Here’s my favorite:

One of the presentations was dedicated to his wife Ruth. If I knew it before, I had forgotten that her parents were missionaries and she was raised in China. My ears perked up as the audio/video described her early years. The narrator said she went to boarding school in Pyongyang, North Korea. My eyes widened and I snapped my head around to smile at Scott. Pyongyang?! Really?! We have some dear, sweet friends who are working in Pyongyang today because they have dedicated their lives to God and to higher education and peace and unification - - on many different levels. It reminded me of them and my great need to pray regularly for them and their work. It’s that North Korean thing again.

OK, so fast forward a few days. We’re back at work and getting back into our normal routine. I have lunch with my friend Ginger and I tell her about our visit to the BG Library. She tells me there’s a TV special about Ruth Bell Graham coming on soon. I check the listings when I get home and whaddaya know, it was scheduled to air the very next night. (Thanks for the heads up, Ginger!). There goes God again beckoning me to pay attention!

The next evening we tuned in and watched the program. By the time it was over, Scott and I both were in tears. One interview on the program was with a man who came to the US as a desperate refugee and was struggling to survive with his family. He didn’t know it until much later, but Ruth made the down payment on a house for them. In another interview (a musician, I can’t remember his name), there was a story of the interaction between Ruth and a little orphan girl whose face had been badly burned; Ruth going on about how precious the child was. All Ruth’s children were on the program and spoke of how loving and selfless and silly she was. It was just one of those programs that made you think about your own mama; and your heavenly father.

God still wasn’t done with this chapter yet.

Did you see the news in the last week? North Korea made the headlines. It seems there is a lot of speculation about the health of the current North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il. And, apparently there is no groomed successor if indeed he is close to death. All of which would have heavy impact on, well, North Korea, South Korea, China, the US, my friends there, on and on and on…

Oh, and, next week there just happens to be a Franklin Graham Festival about an hour from here. That’s pretty close to home.

So, Pop led us to Billy Graham, which pointed me to Ruth, both of which led me to North Korea, which brought me to the feet of Jesus in prayer for my friends there. And then North Korea shows up on the headlines of my personal computer, and Franklin Graham comes to my area. All in about two week’s time.

What started out as a not-quite-a-vacation ended up taking me halfway across the world and brought me right back to my own little world. Isn’t it amazing what God can do?!

Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world. Isaiah 12:5


THE ROOST said...

God is SO amazing! I enjoyed reading how He brought all those events together. Praise His Name!

Eric Bjork said...

I really enjoy reading your stuff--you are an excellent writer.

God bless!