Fall Testimony Series 2023 Day 5 – James Lee’s Testimony
I was born in the rural coastal city of Ulsan, located in the southeast of South Korea. Imagine a coastal countryside rapidly going through industrial revolution—that would be Ulsan. My parents were first-generation Christians. They were saved while in college, so I was born into a Christian home, which I count as a great privilege.
The concept and existence of God were impressed upon me at an early age, not from looking at the wonders of creation or even from the Bible, but by looking at the lives of my parents. Seeing their commitment and dedication to God and seeing God’s hand at work through my parents convinced me that God exists and that He is true.
The horrors of sin grasped me as I got older. I would ask my mother, “What is going to happen to my sin?” and my mother would reply, “Your sins are all taken care of by the Lord Jesus.” However, the truth of salvation continued to elude me. I made numerous false professions through the years, confessing my salvation, but they were empty words.
In July 2000, when I was 12 years old, our family moved to West Chester, Pennsylvania, where we attended Bryn Mawr Gospel Hall. During my time there, 9/11 occurred and my cousin Jeffery died in a car accident at the age of 16. God spoke to me through these events and I was convicted of my sin. However, instead of turning to Christ, I relied on my own strength. I remember sitting in the meeting, trying to remember and pray for all the sins I had committed. After the meeting ended, I encountered my mother and proudly told her, “I just prayed for the forgiveness of all the sins I have committed.” My mother, puzzled but remaining compassionate, said, “Why James? Christ already died for your sin. Why are you trying to work for it?” She quoted to me, “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8, KJV). Sadly, those words fell on deaf ears.
In 2002, we moved to North Carolina, where we attended Hickory Gospel Hall. It wasn’t until the summer of 2004, when I was 16, that I was convicted again of my sins. Gospel meetings were being held at the time with David Petterson, Darris Barney, and Dan McDonald. I do not remember what they spoke on as I was consumed with thoughts of my sin and God’s judgment looming over me. “The wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23, KJV) terrorized my soul and I knew that I had to be saved. I tried everything: I had the preachers over; I tried putting my name in the verses; I prayed; I talked to my parents. I tried so hard to just believe. Yet the gospel meetings came to an end and I was still lost.
I became angry at God and prayed, “God, I hate you. I hate you for ever creating me. I am going to hell and You don’t even care.” Looking back, I am still amazed at the grace of God in the face of such insolence. At the end of the night, I came to the end of my trying. I remember thinking, I tried everything. I guess I’ll just have to go to hell, and I fell asleep. Then, in the middle of night, I woke up and it was almost like a lightbulb when off in my head. I said to myself, “That’s it! That’s why Jesus died on the cross. It was for my sin. God does care and that’s why He sent His Son for me!”
What a relief! I felt a huge load roll off my shoulders. The verse in Romans 5:8 now meant everything to me: “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” Thank God He ever “loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).