Billy Kim

Nov 22, 2002 03:00 AM EST

Described as a man with a warm heart, a cool head and a fiery message, Dr. Billy Kim is a pastor, evangelist and broadcaster of world renown. His list of accomplishments and service in the Christian community worldwide is extensive. He has 12 honorary doctorates from notable institutions. In 1992, Dr. Kim received the highest civilian award for radio broadcasting and media ministries from the former South Korean President. The citation recognized his efforts for improving Korea's relationship with China and Russia.

In his dedication and passion for evangelism, Dr. Kim has preached the Gospel of Jesus Christ all over the world to thousands of people in all walks of life, including military personnel, diplomats, university professors, faculty and staff, and missionaries.

Born July 25, 1934, in rural Suwon, Korea, Billy was the youngest son of the landowner Kim clan. He was a teenager when the Korean conflict erupted. Bombs put an end to school attendance. Since combat focused on cities, the life of the Kims was not seriously disrupted at first.

Inactive and bored by staying with the women, one day Billy grabbed up the "chigeh," a back rack for carrying loads, and skittered out of the courtyard to collect firewood.

But the wood never reached the Kim kitchen. With memory wiped clean of responsibility, Billy found himself staring through the fences of a newly built U.S. Army compound. The GI's inside tried to talk to the bright-eyed, restless boy with the funny thing on his back.

The outcome was that instead of fuel for his mother, the enterprising Billy agreed to provide it--for a price--to the eager GI's. His promotion from wood carrier to houseboy was only a stumbling conversation away. Before long, the Korean teenager attracted the attention of a Virginian named Carl Powers, who started teaching him English under an apple tree. "Carl took a personal interest in me," Billy says when asked about his relationship with the GI from Virginia. That interest grew, from superficial intrigue with an Oriental personality, into genuine love and brotherhood.

As Carl taught English to the boy, a question was born in his heart: Should I involve myself so far that I try to get Billy to America to study? Carl sought and received permission from Billy's mother. When his tour of duty ended, Carl returned to his mountain home in Virginia; Billy was not far behind. Carl had heard good things of Bob Jones University in South Carolina. A strong attraction was their attached high school where Billy could board and study.

It was inevitable that Billy would encounter Jesus Christ soon after his arrival at the Bob Jones school. Religion was never part of his life in Korea, so there were no strong religious barriers to Billy's sponge-like observations of his new Christian environment. Early on, Billy learned there were compulsory prayer meetings in his dorm. Billy followed his classmates and watched. "They knew I wasn't a Christian, so they were praying for me all along," Billy says.

Then one night a fellow college student led Billy to the Lord. Was it real? Did he understand what was going on? Did it make a change? "Oh, man, yes!" Billy grins. "From that time on I was different." Although Billy had plans for going into politics, God had other plans for him. He wished to use Billy's linguistic ability and his gift for influencing others. The Divine imperative was laid upon Billy's heart. "God, I'll go back to Korea and preach Christ. Nothing will stop me," he pledged. And nothing did. Back he went to Korea, just as he promised. With him went his bride, Trudy, a fellow Bob Jones alumnus.

Currently Dr. Kim serves as senior pastor of the 15,000-member Suwon Central Baptist Church in Suwon, Korea, as well as the president of the Far East Broadcasting Company in Korea. Dr. Kim was elected to serve a five-year term as president of the Baptist World Alliance (2000-2005).

Billy Kim is also the director of Christian Service, Inc., in Korea, and serves as Chaplain of the Korean National Police. He is the founder of Central Christian Academy Suwon and Capital Bible College and Seminary in Korea.

He has authored several books about the Christian life, which are all published in Korean.

Dr. Kim notes that one of the most memorable events of his life and ministry was the opportunity to interpret for Dr. Billy Graham at the 1973 Korean Crusade, where more than a million people attended a single service.

Dr. and Mrs. Kim have three children and eight grandchildren. They reside in SeoulDr