Finding God In
Dr. Il-Su Kim (Law Professor)
Dr. Il-Su Kim’s testimony
It has been 40 years since I have accepted Jesus Christ on this campus (KU) in 1969 April. Since then, I have never rejected Him or regretted my calling. Instead, in Christ I was able to find a direction for my life and my continuing studies in Christ. Even when I pursued my own plan, He has led me to His way that is far better than mine, which is teaching, researching, and sharing lives with students in Christ at KU. Because of the experience of my struggle in the early days of my Christian life, I have a compassion for young students who are struggling with their lives.
When I was a student at Korea U, I desired to bring lost souls at the campus to Christ with the Gospel. Then I prayed that I would pass the bar exam with an excellent score so that it may be a sign from God that I should teach at universities. I reasoned that evangelizing students at campus would not be effective if I was not an elite in my field of teaching. I passed the bar exam with the 7th highest score. It was very good, but I thought it was not good enough for me to be a scholar. So I decided to pursue practicing law as a judge. However, since my father had a record of participating in communist government affairs, I was banned from pursuing a career as a judge working for the government. Therefore, I decided to practice law as a lawyer for 3 years, though I was still searching for a breakthrough in direction, yet without any insights. During those struggling years, I also studied under the guidance of some of my previous professors at Korea U. They advised me that I should pursue studying law, and arranged for me to secure a scholarship in Germany. I was a 30-year old man with a wife and 3 kids, but headed to Germany in 1977 by myself. It was lonely and strenuous for 5 ½ years until I graduated with a Doctoral degree in law. I experienced what it was like to depend on the Lord every moment as a foreign student. It was in this struggle that I experienced a deeper trust in the Lord and, through intense prayer, a deeper renewal of my soul.
In 1983, I came back to Korea U as a law professor, and started my first hour of teaching with great anticipation. I shared my life and vision with students. Even though there were ways to attain great wealth as a lawyer, I chose to teach students at campus since God opened a way to share the life of Christ at campus with students. I introduced God who renewed my life and guided me in the midst of my struggles and will complete my life for the future. The impact of my first lecture was so strong that some Christian students wanted to form a ‘Christian Students group’ to share my vision. In 1983, a small prayer group was formed to evangelize Korea U and Korean people. That was the beginning of Korea U chapel. The prayer meeting was started from the Law school, but its influence was not just in the Law campus, but also on other university campuses. They started forming a collaborative effort with numerous other prayer groups. They overcame and tore down the walls separating the different mission organizations in KU. In 1987, some students started a movement of renewing Korea U campus with public confession and proclamation with phrase of ‘the head of Korea U is Jesus Christ’ and ‘Korea U in Christ’. God empowered me so that I could serve these students in Christ with joy.
In 1987 fall, right before the “Korea U in Christ”, I was challenged greatly. While I was testifying and sharing the gospel for a short time during a law lecture, one of the students protested that he was in my class to learn law, not religion. He was especially irritated by me professing Christianity over other faiths. Frankly speaking, his protest was fair and just since I was hired by Korea U to teach law and to expand knowledge and understanding of the law by students. I was like a smuggler of the Gospel and it was not in line with my contract with Korea U. The point of the student was right, so I was puzzled. However, I told him that you were right, but understand me why I did it. I did it for you because I really love you and I dismissed the class. From the next early morning, I prayed to God and asked ‘for the past years, I shared the Gospel at Korea U during the class, and it was against the law school teaching. Now I have a reasonable complain from my student, then what should I do? Should I quit teaching and then should I enroll in seminary school, become a pastor and return to Korea U to share the Gospel? Or should I abandon sharing the Gospel and limit my teaching to law as a professor?’ God was silent during my search for an answer for long time. However, in 1988 Feb 17th, 2 weeks before spring semester, God revealed to me a Bible passage John 1:4 ‘In Him was life, and that life, was the light of men’. During the meditation of the scripture, God gave me an insight of the “life.” God showed me a form of tree of life and I could see how my teaching – criminal law was placed in the middle of the tree of life. I deeply understood. Since then I asked God, through prayer, for a definition of criminal offense, punishment, justification, and excuse in criminal law, with insight to all these definitions from a Christian perspective. He gave me the ability to put these together to build a framework of criminal law in 2 weeks. It was a departure from all my understanding of criminal law that I studied and researched in Germany to the Gospel of Christ life.
Since then I was able to integrate the life and light of Jesus and criminal law. It has resonated in my teaching and my papers I’ve published. I began to notice the changes in students’ facial expression and attitudes during my lecture. Some would come and ask ‘How can I know Jesus?’ Or ‘Do you have extra copy of the Bible for me to read?’ I did not have to allocate time for sharing my testimony and Gospel during my lecture. Jesus’ life and light, integrated in criminal law, naturally brought students to the light. This led me to formalize my understanding of criminal law in Christ and publish papers on ‘Life in Criminal Law’, love in criminal Law and hope in Criminal Law. This fusion of my research, lecture, knowledge and the Gospel resulted in revealing the love of Christ and re-socialization of criminals. I was able to find Christ hidden in criminal law. This work led to evangelism effort among Christians for prisoners. It also led to new efforts of ‘Agape prison’ and ‘Hope in prison’ movements among Christians. My view of the Law has been approved in this effort and even got official support from our government. I don’t have a complete version of love in criminal law, but my dream is to complete the criminal law in Christ as much as he reveals to me until my days end as I ask and pray to God.