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Spirit of Freedom

Weekly Devotionals

Spirit of Freedom

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. – 2 Corinthians 3:17

This Wednesday is marked in red on most people’s calendars, which means it’s a day that most of us will thankfully take off from work. However, most of us probably will not pause to think about what the 3.1 Independence Movement was all about and how thankful we should be for our freedom to worship God.

Korea was heavily under Japanese colonization in the year 1919, and as part of their oppressive rule, the Japanese empire had imposed a policy of Shinto shrine worship at all religious gatherings, and especially at Christian churches. The penalties for those who refused were potentially life threatening.

The spark to the independence movement in Korea was actually ignited a month earlier on February 8, in the center of Tokyo, where at a Korean YMCA about 400 young Christian men gathered to read aloud their declarations of independence from Japan. The courage of these young men triggered a movement that would unite all people of all religions together for the purpose of freedom. Still, of the 33 people who were the main representatives of the 3.1 Independence Movement, 16 of them were Protestant Christians. And of all the people who were arrested during that movement, 65 were Catholic, 220 were Buddhists, 346 followed
Confucianism, and 3,374 were Protestant Christians. Also, as a result of that movement 80 churches in Korea were devastated.

Now consider this, the population of Korea at the time was about 17 million, and the total number of Christians were only about 300,000. That means that the percentage of Protestant Christians were only about 1.8% of the total Korean population. To say that Christians were a minority in society at the time is more than a little understatement. They were no more than a speck of dust. Yet,
it was this speck of dust that started a movement that led to the independence of a nation. It is because of this speck of dust that we can now worship our Lord and savior so freely today in this country without having to look over our shoulders to find a gun pointed at our heads.

The history of Christianity in Korea shows us how much God loves this country and his people. Whatever the human mind may rationally think is impossible, the Spirit of God can make all things possible. It is the Spirit of God that was upon this country on March 1, 1919 that gave courage to the men and women to run out into the streets, waving their flags, and crying out “Daehan-min-guk, Manse!” (or “Hooray for the Republic of Korea!”), despite heavily armed soldiers pointing their guns at them.

Let’s take some time this week to consider how truly thankful we should be that we can worship God so freely. And let’s not take our freedom for granted. We must remember that it only took 400 young Christian men to start a revolution for God in the midst of severe oppression. Therefore, in light of this, let us also ask for God’s Spirit so that we, too, can be used in amazing ways to free the
prisoners and to set free the oppressed around us this week.


* The stats and information in this devotional were acquired from a Korea Times (한국일보) article titled 3.1절에서 보여진 기독교정신 (The Christian Spirit Displayed in the Samil Movement), dated March 5, 2004.