Father promised that God would care for us just like he cared for the sparrows. But as each month of the famine grew worse, seeds of doubt found fertile soil in my empty belly.
In our Hasambong village, even the sparrows were starving to death.
My father sighed deeply, and I held my breath to hear what he would say in his defense. “I am not a fool,” Father began. “I know what risks come from following Jesus Christ,” he continued. His voice wasn't angry anymore, but gentle, like the snow that occasionally covers the Hasambong mountainside in a blanket of unblemished white. “Chung-Cha is a gift from God … as are you.” Father reached out his calloused, work-worn hand to wipe a tear off Mother’s gaunt cheek. She turned away with a disdainful snort.
Father continued, “Nevertheless, if I began to love these gifts more than the One who entrusted them to me, then I would not be able to look my Savior in the face when I stand before him and give an account of my life.
“It is God who gives me breath,” Father went on. The confidence of his quiet confession seemed to fill our cabin with uncharacteristic warmth. “And as long as my old worn-out heart keeps beating, as long as these tired lungs continue to draw air, I will not remain silent. I will proclaim the Good News until my Savior returns to rule the earth, or until he calls me home.”
I felt my heart swelling at Father’s words of triumph and faith. I watched Mother’s face to see if she felt the same wave of power, the same surge of hope that transcended the suffering and fear – even the constant hunger – of our provincial lives in rural North Korea.
Mother brushed past Father and unpinned her hair. She walked to the bed, yanked down the torn blanket, and hissed, “Your stubborn faith will be the death of us all.”