Unfortunately, I can’t condense my story to 150 to 250 words. My story covers a period of 12 years that the Lord used me, and my wife Lucille, to bring the Rev. Dr. Billy Kim: Chairman, far East Broadcast Co., Pastor Emeritus, Suwon Central Baptist Church Korea, Former President Baptist World Alliance (2000-2005) and the 40 voice FEBC Children’s Choir to Broadway in April 2012 for two services, one on Saturday night and then on Sunday morning.
Following are the details of our 12 year story. Glory to God for his Leadership.
Dick and Lucille Brown
God Moves in Mysterious Ways . . .
Let me share a true story with you that shows how God can use us in ways to share the Gospel and we may not realize it.
First, I need to tell you that my name is Dick Brown and I was born in a little coal mining town in Southwest Virginia named Dante. You have probably never heard of Dante, Virginia. The population now is only about 635. The fact that I was born there does not have anything to do with the story I want to share with you other than to say I know where Dante is, and it’s little.
Now here is the story that I have been telling for the past twelve years.
In the year 2000, Billy Graham held a worldwide Evangelistic Conference in Amsterdam which was attended by more than 10,000 evangelists from around the world.
On the opening day: the speaker, who followed Billy Graham, was a man named Billy Kim, Pastor of the 13,000 member Central Baptist Church in Suwon, South Korea. In 1973, Kim had interpreted for Billy Graham as he spoke to more than one million two hundred thousand people at his crusade in Seoul, Korea. Kim had just been elected to a five-year term as President of the Baptist World Alliance.
Here is an excerpt from Billy Kim’s message giving his salvation experience:
For 17 years I never heard the Gospel story. No one ever told me that Jesus died for my sins. I never heard John 3:16, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
During the Korean War, thousands of people were killed and 90 percent of my city was destroyed. One day an American Army camp moved near my home. Some of us went to see them because we had heard the American soldiers were wonderful and generous. They would give us chocolate candy bars and chewing gum. It was a treat for us just to see the American soldiers.
I saw one tall American soldier. He whistled and told me to come over. Because it was a cold day, the soldiers needed some wood for their stove. So I got wood for them. The payment for my work was candy bars, gum, a pack of cigarettes and some big unlabeled no. 10 can of food. I ate the candy, chocolate bars and chewing gum. I gave the cigarettes to my mom and she sold them on the black market. I didn’t know what was in that big No. 10 can. We opened it and it was a can of prunes. We gave it to our ox.
The next day I went back and subsequently I began working for the American soldiers as a houseboy.
One day I met Sgt. Carl Powers. He said: “Do you want to go to America?” It’s the dream of every Korean teenager … they want to go to America.
I said, “Yes, I want to go.”
One day he showed me an application form from a school in Greenville, S. C. … Bob Jones University. I was scared. I told him I didn’t want to go. He said, “Why?” I had to give him three excuses real fast: (1) I can’t speak English. (2) I’m too small. (3) My mother won’t let me go.
He said, “You can learn to speak English. … You can grow up. … I can get permission from your mother.” He didn’t accept any of my excuses.
One day he came to me in my pup tent. He was pleading. He begged. I saw tears coming down his cheeks. A strange feeling come to my heart that I should go to the United States. I didn’t know what it was then, but I know now. It was the providential hand of God working in his life as well as my life.
I left for America to attend school. I had a great big name tag. It read, “To Whom It May Concern: Send this boy to Route 1, Box 75, Dante, Virginia.” He thought I might get lost, so I wore that name tag.
I went to the school and registered and said goodbye to Sgt. Powers. I was alone. I got homesick and I didn’t understand English.
Everything was in English. Nobody spoke Korean.
One day someone gave me a black book, which I had never seen before. He said, “Open it to John 3:16” --- “For God so loved the world.”
He said, “Would you like to accept Christ as your personal Savior?”
I said. “If I accept Christ, would it take away my homesickness?”
He said, “Yes! He will give you a new life. He will give you peace. He will give you joy. He will give you purpose in life.”
We knelt. I said in Korean, “Oh, God, I’m a sinner. Please forgive my sin. Come into my heart.” After I prayed, he prayed in English. I didn’t know what he prayed and he didn’t know what I prayed. After we prayed together, he said, “But we have a God who understands Korean as well as English.” There on the third floor of the dormitory I accepted Christ as my Savior.
After one semester, I returned to Virginia for summer vacation to the home of Sgt. Carl Powers.
One afternoon, I told Carl Powers I had opened my heart to accept Christ as my Savior. Tears came down his face. It was my joy to lead my soldier friend, Carl Powers, to Christ.
After college and seminary I went back to Korea. I told my mother about Jesus. She became a Christian. I told my oldest brother and his nine children. They all became Christians. I told my second brother. He and his wife have five children. They all became Christians. My sister, her three children, my third brother and his three children, they all became Christians. My whole family came to Christ!
Let me summarize what you have just heard: God used a man from the little town of Dante, Virginia, who was half way around the world, to bring a 17 year old boy, who would ultimately touch the lives of millions of people, from Korea to America.
I believe Sgt. Carl Powers was the messenger following God’s plan even though he did not know it at the time.
The first few years that I shared this story I ended with the thought: If God can use a man from the little town of Dante, Virginia, half way around the world, to do his will; how do you know God won’t use you in some way to accomplish His purpose.
In September 2006, Dr. James Taylor, President of the University of the Cumberlands at Williamsburg, Kentucky, spoke to the Life After Fifty Group at our church, Broadway Baptist Church. During his talk Dr. Taylor mentioned that Dr. Billy Kim was going to be speaking at the University.
After the program, I went to Dr. Taylor and told him about my Dante connection and he invited me to come down and meet Dr. Kim.
On October 2, 2006, my wife Lucille and I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Billy Kim. We heard him speak and then had lunch right beside him. During our conversation with Dr. Kim we found that he had preached in the town of Erwin, Tennessee, where Lucille and I both had grown up, married and raised our family until we moved to Louisville, Kentucky in 1963. Dr. Kim also told us about traveling in western North Carolina. One of the towns he mentioned was a town where Lucille had lived as a young girl. Dr. Kim said: “I can’t believe the coincidences.” What a great day!
When Dr. Kim found we were from Louisville he asked us if we knew Mrs. June Honeycutt, wife of the late Dr. Roy Honeycutt who was President of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary for many years. When we said “yes”, she goes to our church, he asked us to tell her “Hello” for him.
Well, that’s another story! After we had told June Honeycutt what Dr. Kim had said, she invited Lucille and I to lunch so she could show us a video she had of Dr. Kim. Remember, I told you about Sgt. Carl Powers who was responsible for bringing Billy Kim to America. Mrs. Honeycutt had called information and had gotten Carl Powers telephone number. After lunch, she called him and then gave me the telephone.
You know, I have been telling this story since the year 2000 and did not know if Carl Powers was still alive or what. After all, how old would you think an Army Sgt., who in 1951 arranged for a 17 year old Korean boy to come to the United States, would be. That was more than sixty years ago.
I answered the telephone by telling Carl Powers that I was born in Dante, Virginia and the month, day and year I was born. He told me he was born the next month. I am one month older than he is. We talked several minutes and I promised to come to see him.
On August 24, 2007, Lucille and I drove to Nora, Virginia (That’s close to Dante). I had called Carl Powers a few days before and he asked us to meet him at the Elementary School where he had taught until his retirement. What a great meeting! We talked about his life in the Army, his finding a way to bring Billy Kim to America, and his going to Billy Kim’s mother and asking her permission for Billy to go. He remembers thinking to himself, “Why would any mother agree to let her youngest son go off with a complete stranger and to go half way around the world.”
He said that as he saw tears roll down her cheek he knew she was going to say yes. He also said that as he realized the responsibility that he had assumed, it changed his life forever. He told us that he prayed every day that Billy Kim’s mother would live to see Billy come back to Korea. Well, Billy’s mother did live to see him come home. She also lived to see Billy and his wife have three children.
Carl Powers knows that God used him to touch someone He wanted to spread the Gospel in Korea and the world.
Over the years, Carl Powers said he kept a type of diary and in 1995 Billy Kim asked him for it. The next thing he knew Dr. Kim had it published in book form, showing Carl Powers as the author. The book is entitled; “A Heart Speaks” Story of Billy Kim’s Early Life. Carl gave us a copy.
What a joy to have met and talked to Carl Powers.
I don’t know what is going to happen next but I won’t be surprised!
If you ever feel the need to talk to someone about Jesus and the difference He can make in your life, do it! You may never know when God is using you to promote His Kingdom.
Think about it, there’s a third person in this story . . . what about that student who gave Billy Kim a black book and told him to “Read John 3:16.” God used that student to lead Billy Kim to Christ. And we don’t know the student’s name.
Well, there’s more . . . On September 23, 2007, Carl Powers wrote me and told me that he had talked to Billy Kim and that Billy was going to be at Highlands Fellowship in Abingdon, Virginia for Sunday services on October 21st and that he planned to be there.
Lucille and I drove to Abingdon on Saturday October 20th and found the church about 4:30 p.m. When we went in we found they were getting ready for a dinner for Billy Kim and his group. It wasn’t but a few minutes until we looked out to see Billy Kim coming up the walk. When he came in we met him and it was like we had known each other for years. He told us that Carl Powers had told him we were going to be there.
We found that the church was going to record Billy Kim preaching his message that night to be shown at an 8:00 a.m. service the next morning. Dr. Kim invited Lucille and I to be his audience as they recorded his message. And, we got to hear him preach for the very first time.
After this, the church folks insisted that we stay for dinner. Carl Powers and others were there. We met the Senior Pastor Jimmie D. Davidson who started Highlands Fellowship seven years ago. In addition to their main church they now have two satellite churches and average about 3,500 on Sundays.
On Sunday, Lucille and I went to the 9:30 a.m. service and met with Carl Powers. We then decided to stay and listen to Dr. Kim preach again at the 11:00 a.m. service.
On April 21, 2012 Dr. Kim brought a Children’s Choir of 40 young people from South Korea to our church here in Louisville. They sang a concert on Saturday night and the sang at both morning services on Sunday morning. Dr. Kim shared his testimony at the Sunday services. Dr. Kin spent Saturday and Sunday night in our home.
God used a man from a little town in Virginia, who was half way around the world, to touch a teenage boy who was destined to become a world leader in the Christian movement.
Can God use you and me to touch people for Him? I firmly believe that things like this occur everyday. Maybe not on this scale, but in ways that can make a difference.
Trust God. Make a Difference!
On September 21, 2013, Carl Lee Powers, age 84, went to meet his Maker and there is no doubt in my mind that one of the first things he heard was “Well done good and faithful servant.”
Dick C. Brown
August 30, 2014