A highlight from Ch Ahn (Encore)
Welcome to the Eric Metaxas show. They say it's a thin line between love and hate. But we're working every day to thicken that line, or at least make it a double or triple line. But now here's your line jumping host, Eric Metaxas. I have a very special guest today. As you know, on Miracle Mondays, we try to have someone on who believes in miracles, who's maybe experienced some miracles, whose life itself is a miracle. Today, I am thrilled to have in the studio with me, all the way from Pasadena, California, Che Ahn. How do I describe Che Ahn? He's the founder and president of Harvest International Ministry, a worldwide apostolic network of churches in over 60 nations. My goodness, he's also the international chancellor of Wagner University. He's received his master's and doctorate in ministry from Fuller Theological Seminary. He's written many books. He's been married for 40 years to his wife, Sue. They have four adult children, six grandchildren. I think that says it all. Che Ahn, welcome to the program. Well, thank you. What an honor to be on your show. Listen, it's my honor to have you. I've known you for many, many years. You haven't known of me, but I've known of your ministries. What was the one with fire in the title? I can't remember. It was Teen Mania, or what was it? It was something you did here in New York, like 12 or 13 years ago. Well, we did the Call New York. That's what it was. The Call New York. It was the Call New York. Yeah, 2001. That's, you know what? 2001? Yeah, after 9 -11. That is 18 years ago. Yeah, and it's interesting because initially when we came to mobilize the pastors, actually they were very, very rude. They said, we don't need the Call to come in. And then after 9 -11 hit, they said, we need to gather together and have a solemn assembly. We need to come together and repent of our sins. And before we knew it, over 100 ,000 people showed up in Flushing Meadow. The fact that that is 18 years ago completely blows my mind. Yeah, it's been a long time. Because I spoke briefly, I was on the stage, and I remember being amazed at the crowd. It was a huge crowd. Right. And I grew up in Flushing Meadow. I mean, I grew up a couple of miles from there, and we would, as a kid growing up in Queens, New York, I would hang out there. And so to see thousands and thousands of people, then that's when I met you. But for folks who know nothing about you, what is your story? How long have you been, by the way, in Pasadena? Well, I moved in 1984, but I grew up in Washington, D .C., in Montgomery County, Maryland. So this is out of D .C. My father was the first Korean Southern Baptist pastor in North America, so he immigrated in 1958. From Korea. From Korea, South Korea. There was no Korean Southern Baptist church in the United States. He was the first one, and so they wanted him at the nation's capital. There was a handful of Korean students who were studying at Georgetown, George Washington, Catholic University, to help rebuild Korea after the Korean War, which ended in 1953. Actually, it was a ceasefire that took place. And so they wanted the Korean government, wanted the top students to learn public policy, how to do government, and to rebuild Korea. And so there were around 200 students in Washington, D .C., but they wanted a Baptist pastor. There was a Presbyterian church, there was a Methodist, but not a Southern Baptist. And it was like my dad won the lotto. He applied and got the job because it was so hard to immigrate. I mean, it's hard now, but back in 1958 to immigrate to the United States, it was almost impossible because the U .S. government realized there was no Korean Southern Baptist church. So you were born here? No, here's the problem. We had a visa problem. So my sister, my mother, and I, we were separated from my dad for three years. And so finally, after three years, during my formative year or so, almost when I was five, then we got the visa to come to the United States. And so, to say the least, when I saw my dad, I couldn't recognize him because, you know, I was just two years old when he left. People have no idea what others go through. I mean, when you describe that and how many people want to come to America. But I mean, the idea that your father is a Southern Baptist preacher in America. Well, he passed away, but he was a pioneer. No, no, I mean, but in those days that he's from Korea. Right. And so you were raised in the faith, in the Christian faith. Well, I was, but I rejected Christianity very early on because of two things, you know. There was no kids in my Sunday school. It was just students, college students. And so there was no families. There was no other kids my age. And then I went to an elementary school, Forest Grove Elementary School. And my sister and I were the only two people of color in an all -white elementary school. And now, if you go to that school, it's very, very diverse. But back in those days, it wasn't until the fifth grade I remember someone of color coming in. And so there were no other Asians, no African -Americans, no Hispanic. And so we stood out. And so I got in fights all the time because people were calling me chink, even though I'm not Chinese. That's a drug term for Chinese and Jap, even though I wasn't Japanese. You know, by the way, I have a little joke. I say you could tell the difference between a Chinese, Japanese, and a Korean. If you see a rich -looking Asian, they're Chinese. A smart -looking Asian, they're Japanese. But if you see a handsome -looking Asian, he's Korean. Ha! Ha! Take that. Yeah, so anyway, but I got in fights all the time. And I wanted to be so accepted. Plus, my parents were working day and night just to survive in America. And so as a result of that, my craving for acceptance and to be popular led me into the whole hippie drug culture of the late 60s and early 70s. I joke I may have been the first Korean hippie in North America because I never met anyone. I stopped cutting my hair for three and a half years. And my dad is freaking out. He doesn't know what's going on. And by the time I'm 15, I'm doing everything under the sun. Heavy drug user, cocaine, heroin, LSD. And then by the time I'm 17, I'm pushing drugs to support my habit. And so I was totally out of control. But one thing my parents did was pray for me. And I really want to encourage people not to stop praying no matter how bad it looks. Because the Bible says in Acts 16 31, believe on the Lord Jesus and you and your family will be saved. And so my parents prayed me into the Kingdom. And so I'm here by the grace of God. I got radically saved at a Deep Purple concert. So that gives you a little clue where I was at. Wait a minute. You got saved at a Deep Purple concert? Yeah, in May 1973. They were just touring with Smoke on the Water, a new song that came out in 1972. And they were touring in 1973. And it was at the Baltimore Civic Center. I made a concert, 15 ,000 tickets sold out in two hours. They were the number one band in America at that time. And during the intermission I had an encounter with God where the Lord spoke to me for the first time. I'm not talking about audibly in the small still voice. Because I was having this for two weeks, this visitation from the Lord Jesus. Without anyone witnessing to me. That's why I'm saying the power of... Now when you say that because people are listening and I'm really one of them. Like you're thinking, what do you mean by that? I mean here you are, you know, you're a teenager, right? Right. You are big time into drugs and you're selling drugs. You go to a Deep Purple concert. Now you say that for two weeks up to that, God had been somehow communicating with you or visiting you. What do you mean specifically? Okay, so two weeks before I'm at my friend Sal's. We're at a party. Just guys bonging on marijuana and smoking and drinking beer. Nothing heavy. It wasn't like we were tripping on acid or anything. But I was just bored because I was just doing that every day. It was just so monotonous. You know, day in, day out, just getting high. So I went to another room and I was into Zen Buddhism at that time. Just experimenting with Eastern religion. So I went to the room just to go through my chant and after saying the stupid chant, I was saying it incessantly for almost a year. And finally I just said, you know what, this is the stupidest thing I've ever done. I said that to myself. I got nothing out of it, Eric. And you just said, duh. Yeah, right. No, but this is how he said that. So I said God, I said this audibly by the way, no one was in the room. I said, God, I don't even know if you exist, but if you do exist, if my parents, what they told me is true, that there's a heaven and a hell. Well, I don't want to go to hell if there is a hell, but I don't know. So reveal yourself to me. So I was expecting him to show me if he does exist in the days ahead. But as soon as I prayed that right there in the party, the presence of God came all over me and I started to weep because I felt so much love and peace about me. Alone in the room. Alone in my room. And I was sobbing and I knew, I knew it was Jesus. I just knew because I just prayed if what my parents told me as a Christian pastor, if Jesus is the way, if there is a heaven and a hell. And so I thought I was having some kind of emotional breakdown, but it lasted for three days. Every day that presence came on me and I would just start weeping. And I said, what is going on? No one witnessed to me. Are you kidding? Now hold on because we're going to go to a break. Jay on is my guest. It's Miracle Monday. I love these kind of stories. We'll be right back with the rest of the story. And there's plenty more. It's the air from Texas show.