I finished my master’s work at the UI in 1979, and so Nancy and I decided to spend the summer in Vancouver, B.C. where I took a few classes at Regent College. John Stott was teaching through the book of Acts, and I decided to take three other classes as well. Leon Morris taught a class on the atonement, Brian Griffiths presented a fine course on biblical thinking in economics, and another gentleman, whose name escapes me, taught a class on hermeneutics as we worked through the book of Galatians. That class was memorable (mostly) for the time we were told, when we got to the Hagar and Sarah typology, that Paul was “wrong” in how he handled Scripture. All in all, the time there was quite valuable (especially Stott and Morris), but I also got a glimpse of the kind of scholarly skylarking that goes on in evangelical academia.
When we came back to Moscow in the fall, we house-sat for my parents while my Dad taught a semester up at Regent College, co-teaching a course on evangelism with J.I. Packer. We had no place of our own, and so we spent a good amount of time searching for a house to rent and the only one that was consistently available was unappealing. But in the end, with time running out, we finally decided that this was where God wanted us, and so we moved into one half of this duplex. Not very long after that, the duplex sold to a delightful Korean couple — the Kims, Chong Won and Gui Hung — who moved in next door, becoming our neighbors and landlords. They were both graduate students in engineering, and I remember having a friendly chat with them in the driveway as we were first getting acquainted. It came out in that conversation (in passing) that they were nominal Buddhists, but I discovered later that this aspect of the conversation was much more weighty for them than for me.
A short time later, Gui Hung (the wife) came to the door and asked if we could arrange for a time when I could come next door and explain Christianity to some Koreans. I was delighted, and after one false start, we arranged a time. When I arrived that evening, their living room was jammed. I believe that they had rounded up every Korean in Moscow, and gathered them in order to hear the gospel presented. When I got there, they gave me the floor. Some had a Christian background, but all were spiritually needy, and hungry. After I had presented the gospel, there was a question and answer time. The questions were similar to what you hear from American unbelievers (“Where did Cain get his wife?”), but there was still a striking difference. When the Koreans heard the answer, the response was along the lines of “Oh. That makes sense.” There was no argument at all. They were spiritually hungry and they knew it.
They asked if we could meet regularly, and so our initial meeting turned into a Friday night Bible study at our apartment, working through the gospel of Mark. We had a wonderful time in the Word together with this group, as well as some adventures in language. For example, what does a Korean dog say? American dogs are wont to go ruff ruff, but Korean dogs go wong wong. As I recall, we thought this was funnier than they did. And I remember the moment when we were discussing how Jesus told His disciples not to take any provisions with them except for a staff. There was some confusion when one of the Koreans thought that staff meant secretary, administrative assistant, and so on, and could not make any sense out of Jesus’ sense of priorities. No cloak, but a staff is okay?
After each Bible study was over, everyone would sit and visit for a short time, until Chong Won (who was the eldest) would stand up to leave, and everyone else would go with him — next door to debrief one another on the Bible study in Korean.
God once worked through the Kims in a wonderful provision for us, in the timely way He always has. We had some other close friends in Moscow, who were, like us, poor students. Technically, we weren’t students anymore but we still belonged in that caste. One day, the husband called Nancy up and announced that they were coming to dinner. The reason they had for inviting themselves was that they were in possession of “macaroni, but no cheese.” Nancy said sure, but we were pretty close to being in the same condition ourselves. She started to work on something, but even with her ingenuity, life in the kitchen was still pretty sparse. Bekah, our oldest, was next door visiting with Gui Hung, and came back that afternoon with news that she was doing some Korean cooking, and wanted to send over a sample. This was very nice, but we thought we were talking about something in the realm of nibblers and hors d’oevres. But when dinner time arrived, and our company arrived, something else also arrived. The Kims, without any knowledge of our predicament, began to deliver dish after dish of wonderful Korean food. More than enough, and to spare, and on the mount of the Lord it will always be provided.