[BOOK REVIEW]A do-gooder who wasn't discouraged

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[BOOK REVIEW]A do-gooder who wasn't discouraged

Christians will be inspired by Pastor Kim Jin-hong's story of a life dedicated to working for social welfare in Korea. But would others be interested?

I think they should be. If a militant secular humanist with a fat black marker went through Pastor Kim's autobiography inking over all Bible verses and references to prayer, church or deity, there would still be quite a lot to read about. The man himself is evidently an engaging, feisty person. He announced himself as someone to reckon with as a small boy, when he answered a rebuke from his grandmother by dropping his pants and exposing himself to her. Instead of giving him a good spanking, the grandmother advised his mother to be sure the boy got an education: "No one else would have done that," she said. "He has a future ahead of him, that boy of yours."

Mr. Kim found his calling in one of Seoul's grimmest slums. He learned that doing good is not easy, and may not do much good. Some slum people are lazy, lead disorganized lives, steal and drink and beat their wives, are whining ingrates. Mr. Kim sees only humans who need food, shelter and medical care, and he has scathing words for churches that prefer to minister to the comfortable. He spends an entire day carrying a woman from hospital to hospital, until she dies on his back. Eventually, he organizes the Doorae Community movement, which now embraces Koreans in five countries.

The book is poorly organized, with many gaps and repetitions. The translators explain that the autobiography was written for serial publication in a magazine. The writing itself moves swiftly, however, with many compelling anecdotes, and the story of Pastor Kim's determination to help society's neediest should interest all who dream of creating gardens where deserts are.

by Hal Piper

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