Welcome to the renewed lookandbe.blogspot.com! As a lot of ordinary folks started sharing their extraordinary stories with me over coffee, at church and in life this year, I knew I needed to find a way to share these adventures with others. I’m so glad God had me take the time to look and be with those around me, hearing about the extraordinary ordinary. Thanks for taking the time to read this month's amazing story. On the last day of each month, I'll have another ordinary person's journey to share!
Last year, I bumped into a man at church and he shared with me the fascinating story of his father. While a soldier in the Korean War, Jonathan’s father had inadvertently helped an international organization get started! This organization, Compassion International, has touched the lives of more than 1,400,00 children worldwide through their staff, the people in the international partner churches and the children sponsors.
I asked Jonathan Rund if he’d share his father's story on my blog and he agreed. I hope this Question and Answer session with him will inspire you as much as it did me.
Q: Jonathan, thank you so much for taking the time to tell us about your father’s story. First off, what can you tell us about your dad?
A: I will happily speak of the faith of my dad, Elmer Rund. Elmer was serving in the United States Air Force during the Korean War as an aircraft mechanic and was in constant danger. He was almost 29 years of age when, in 1951, he was strolling through a small village called Chinae and encountered a young orphan boy of 8 or 9 years of age. The boy was begging for food. Thankfully, our military folks would buy food for these dear orphans at that time, which my dad did that day. However, other older boys approached asking for alcohol from Dad and he resolutely told them “no!” because he knew this was not good and he himself had had problems with alcohol.
The little orphan boy, still with him, was enthralled by dad’s action. With all the sincerity a young boy could muster, and in broken English he asked dad “Sargie, are you a Christian?” These five words would rock his life forever! Dad didn’t know how to respond, but the boy was waiting an answer. Dad knew he’d been to Church at times growing up in Cary, Illinois, but didn’t know much else. As the boy waited dad falsely answered “yes” thinking that church going was the same as being a Christian. The little boy was ecstatic! He began to jump and delight himself that he’d met another Christian. Dad wasn’t sure what had happened, he’d never seen a boy so joyful.
The remainder of that walk in the village ended with more older boys seeking alcohol. Yet, before they could get close enough to dad to request it, the little boy had run up to them and with both fists exclaimed “No, no, no…Christian!” Dad realized the boy was trying to protect him from the evil in the village. He also knew that this little guy had something to live for and he himself did not.
After this event took place, for two full months, my dad would be working on the aircraft and the Spirit of God would bring back five words to him, “Sargie, are you a Christian?” “I told him I was,” my dad recalls. “But am I?” It seemed that nothing else mattered to him than the answer to that question. But how to become a Christian? That’s another matter altogether.
Just two month’s later Dad heard about an evangelist-missionary coming to speak to the American troops and this man was from Chicago, where Dad was from. He had heard that missionaries lived exciting lives and so he went to one of the meetings in the little Chapel. That night Rev. Everett Swanson spoke about the great white throne judgment in Revelation and how the “dead, small and great, would stand before God” and that there was a book with the names of the saints there. He asked the attendees whether their name was written in “The Lamb’s Book of Life". Under the influence and leading of the Holy Spirit, my dad realized his sin and need of a Savior and trusted completely in the work of Christ for his salvation.
He somehow discovered Rev. Everett Swanson’s concern for the orphans of the Korean conflict and knew that he needed help. A short time later Dad felt compelled to give all of his money to the Lord’s work as an act of full obedience and discipleship to the Lord. He had a hefty savings account at the time, enough to purchase a house, a car and possibly start a business after the war was over. Ultimately, he ended up writing six checks for $1,000 each. He mentioned that this was one of the happiest days of his life even to the end of his life.
What Dad did not know, for over 40 years, is that one of those checks labeled “for the needy of Korea” helped to launch the ministry that is now called Compassion International. Though they met in Chicago a short time later at a Church and may have shared a platform speaking, it is uncertain whether Rev. Swanson connected the check sent to my dad when they met! Dad would discover this fact upon a visit to the headquarters of Compassion International many years later.
Q: Now that we know a little bit about your dad, when did he first mention his connection to Compassion to you? Or if he didn’t, how did you find out about your dad’s involvement?
A: We grew up supporting four Korean orphan children and we knew that Compassion was the supporting organization. We also knew that Dad had come to saving faith in Christ as a result of Rev. Everett Swanson. But that was the extent of the connection.
Q: In this amazing connection of events, I have to ask what surprised you the most?
A: I think the biggest surprise is that God kept this silent from my dad and our family, the fact that his donation had been the seed money for this organization all these years.
Q: How did knowing all this affect you and your family?
A: We’ve always been delighted to support Compassion children. I believe that all of my parents’ seven children have done so at one time or another and some are supporting quite a few orphans. Even today, my mom at 92 still supports a 12 year old boy from the Philippines! Once we found out about his role in the start of the ministry, we just were overjoyed!
Q: How did God use this in your life?
A: For me personally, it was a good reminder to me that any act of sincere devotion to Christ will have untold blessings for the world, though it is done in secret! I like to tell folks that had Dad invested those $6,000 in some decent stock in the early 1950’s he could have been a multi-millionaire. But he has far more eternal riches in heaven, and over 1,400,000 children have been educated, fed, clothed and spiritually fed due to acts of obedience of this kind! What is more valuable than a changed life? I recently told this very story to a group of over 300 freshmen students in a local high school and what a joy to tell this story as they consider what their lives are all about.
Q: Has Compassion shared their side of the story too?
A: The Compassion side of the story is briefly told on their website: http://www.compassion.com/about/history/1950s/default.htm. The story was also told in their 50 year celebration book called ONE, pages 5-13.
Q: What strikes you as the number one lesson God has provided through this?
A: Perhaps one of the main lessons is that Our Lord encouraged both Rev. Swanson and my dad, Elmer Rund, to consider the costs of doing something for Him and His kingdom and they both obeyed.
In hindsight, we can see that their sincere obedience to God with real world faith engendered something of incalculable value.
If you'd like to share your own extraordinary ordinary experience, please email me at soulfixer13 (at) yahoo (dot) com and we'll chat.