J. Thomas was a Welsh missionary with a burden for the xenophobic hermit kingdom of Korea in the middle of the nineteenth century. In 1865, while in China, the opportunity he had been waiting a lifetime for arrived. An American ship, the SS General Sherman, was going to steam up the Taedong River to the capital, Pyongyang, in hopes of luring the Koreans into trade. Thomas bought a berth on the ship, hoping to meet some scholars in Pyongyang who spoke and read Chinese, and he took as many Chinese Scriptures with him as he could carry on board.

When they reached Pyongyang, they were not welcomed. They got stuck on a sandbank and the ship was set afire. As the crew waded to shore, they were killed by the waiting Koreans. Thomas also waded to shore. Before he could speak, a club swung with murderous force dashed his head into the water, but his killer noticed he had emerged with books. He picked up a couple of the sodden books. Drying them off, he separated the leaves and saw that they were nicely printed. He could not read but decided to paper the outside of his house compound with the pages, as was the custom at the time.

Imagine his astonishment when he returned from the fields a few weeks later to find a clutch of scholars earnestly reading his walls. One of these scholars became a Christian by reading a Gospel portion plastered onto the wall. A generation later his nephew assisted in the first translation of the New Testament into Korean in Shenyang, China under the supervision of another little-known missionary, John Ross from Scotland.

Source: Open Doors

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