Day24- Matthew Chapter 25

  • Verses 35-40, especially verse 40, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me,” have confirmed the thoughts He has been giving me lately, in three instances. Recently, I’ve been contemplating through various means what and how should I live my remaining life for. While it’s true that we must know and live according to God’s will, as the Gospel teaches, I have been pondering how to balance Christ’s ‘redemptive work’ and God’s will of ‘loving one another’ in a way that suits my life.
  • This week, I happened to read an article about Pastor Choi Il-do. I first learned about him when I started going to church in 1989, through the ‘Bread of Life Community’ (Da-il Community: A Resurrecting Community) and the book ‘The Poet Who Cooks, The Love That Serves.’ Since 1988, he has been serving as the head of the ‘Da-il Community,’ directly providing free meals ranging from 800 to 1000 bowls daily for 30 years. Throughout these years, I occasionally looked up news about him, thinking, “He’s still doing it…”
  • A brief summary of his life would include the time during his preparation for theological studies in Germany with his wife in 1988 when he met a helpless elderly man who had been starving on the streets for three days.

***Some parts excerpted from the article***

Pastor Choi: “It all started 30 years ago when I saw a helpless elderly man who had been starving for three days at Cheongryangri Station.

“He was an elderly man from Hamgyong Province. I pretended not to notice in the morning and went to Chuncheon, but when I returned in the evening, he was still there. It was when I was preparing for my studies in Germany. After buying him Seolleongtang (ox bone soup), the next day I saw six more elderly men.”

After that, I started serving ramen in front of the ticket office. “A few days later, police officers came. They said, ‘This is a country that has hosted the Olympics. If North Korea finds out, they’ll say, ‘South Korea still has beggars like this,’ considering it an act of treason and telling us to clean it up. So, we were pushed to the Cheongryangri vegetable market, and then moved under a double-arched bridge because it rained.”

―Was there a homeless person among them who had dropped out of a philosophy department and was an alcoholic?

“Yes. He asked, ‘What really is life?’ An elderly man next to him said, ‘Why do you ask even after eating? Life is just like ramen!’ When I came home, those words echoed in my ears. Ah, what I learned in seminary was utterly useless.”

―What decision did you make?

“If there’s a starving homeless person in front of my house, the real act of love is to immediately provide them with food and clothing. Is going abroad to study theology and just talk about it religion? I questioned myself and made a vow. I won’t speak with my mouth. The only way is to live by life, by action.”

<Pastor Choi’s wandering>

His spiritual pillar was an elderly man from Yongmun Mountain. Pastor Choi once wandered too. It was in 1993. He opened a church with the help of a senior pastor, but it turned into chaos. People lying in their own feces, vomiting food, breaking soju bottles and fighting, brawls… He hit his limit. He asked a detective from the Cheongryangri Police Station to clean up after them and exclaimed, “I’ve devoted my youth, but I won’t do it anymore! I won’t even pee towards Cheongryangri.”

―What did the detective say?

“You should sow seeds where you can see the field. That place is not for sowing seeds.”

―You received encouragement.

“So, I blindly boarded the Gyeongchun Line. I went to Chuncheon to cool off my head. But I mistakenly boarded a train going to Taebaek. And I didn’t have a penny on me. I was kicked off by the conductor and got off at Yangpyeong Yongmun Station.”

―And then?

“I trudged through Yongmun Valley. I couldn’t lift my face because it felt like people were blaming me. On the third morning, I smelled rice. When you’re starving, your sense of smell becomes like a dog’s. I went to see, and an elderly man had set up a tent and was making breakfast. ‘Are you a thief?’ he said. I felt caught and was about to turn away when the elderly man called me.”

―What did he say?

“I’m not a stingy person, but there’s no free lunch in the world. Eat this and go straight back to Cheongryangri.”


“If you go there, Pastor Choi Il-do will give you food. So, start your life anew!” I was overwhelmed with goosebumps and tears streamed down my face.”

―It’s hard to believe. Did you hallucinate from starvation or dream it?

“Not at all. I went back several times to find that Yongmun Mountain elderly man but never could. It was a profound event that etched deeply in my heart that instead of trying to change the world, I needed to change myself first.”

―You must have returned to Cheongryangri after a few days.

“The helpless elderly and homeless people gathered at the station square saw me and unanimously exclaimed, ‘Because of you, we starved for three days! We heard rumors you had run away!’ That day, I cried bitterly.”

<Below is my situation>

  • Before reading this article, watching YouTube videos about life in North Korea made me aware of the reality there, especially the hunger not just in orphanages or remote areas outside Pyongyang. This article about Pastor Choi was the second thought He gave me.
  • And yesterday, listening to a lecture called ‘The Story of India,’ I learned about the poverty in India (the third thought). My heart deeply empathizes with people living in poverty and hunger worldwide.
  • And today, He confirms through this scripture, “Whatever you did for one of the least of these, you did for me.”
  • I believe that people should live happily, and those who are already happy should help those who are not. This could be spreading the Gospel or physically feeding the hungry. Those in spiritual need should be filled with the inner peace of knowing God, and those in physical need should have their practical needs met.
  • Now (in the U.S., the work I can do: helping people with spiritual needs, which I’m currently praying about), I can do it, and eventually, I should prepare to help with physical needs. I wonder if, in 10 years, there will still be people dying of hunger on Earth. If not, that would be a relief. Then, I could also take care of people suffering from spiritual loneliness. Pastor Choi currently runs the ‘Da-il Community’ and a ‘Loneliness Prevention Center’ in South Korea. It’s said that in Korea now, more people die from loneliness than from hunger. He also runs a ‘Food Serving Community’ in South America.
  • Coming to the U.S., I’ve felt a void in our church life, possibly because we were providing physical (food) support to people who needed to be filled spiritually, especially in the church I used to attend. I hope to find a community here that shares such spiritual giving. I wish for us all to grow together.
  • The power of the Gospel was a strength I needed, not someone else. Without it, I couldn’t care for or love others. I need a relationship with God, and through me, God wants to love others. I should nurture people who can have a relationship with God whenever I have the chance.
  • God still wants to form relationships with other disciples to nurture people with dreams like Pastor Choi Il-do. The source of strength to serve others lies in the power of the Gospel. Maybe this power is primarily needed by those who serve (leaders). Thus, delving deep into a relationship with God in meditation is desperately needed by me today.
  • Couples provide emotional stability, so I hope my husband can also share in such service. Just as God directly spoke to Joseph, I pray He speaks directly to my husband, Kevin. If it is in the Lord’s will, may He give us a united heart. Without my husband, there are things I cannot do. (Pastor Choi Il-do also said his wife is the person he’s most thankful for. If she had complained about his economic incapacity since their youth, he would have been helpless…)


1. Prepare through prayer to connect with believers in our area who want to delve into the essence of Christianity through the Bible (personal preparation: meditation (notes) and organizing Christian history).

2. Prepare to meet Pastor Hugh and Mrs. Lim Jeong-hyeon (mission to North Korea) when my son Sam visits the West this summer (find contact information and make a meeting plan).

3. Make plans for next year’s visit to North Korea (financial issues, prayer, connection methods…).

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