Dr. Rodney T. Hard

Korean women worshiping statue of Buddha.

A small stream crossing like this could swell into a raging river during rainy season.

Gravel roads through the mountains had no railings.

Swollen river during rainy season in Korea much like the one in this story.


By:  Dr. Rodney T. Hard

Korea was a nation of people who were mostly Buddhists.  They bowed down to statues of Buddha and worshipped them.  They prayed to their ancestors.  They were very superstitious and always afraid of evil spirits bringing them illness and bad luck.  They did have very strong family values and bonds with reverence and respect for their elders.  These ideas came from the strong influences of the teachings of Confucius.

As a young boy, one night I peered over our wall to see who was chanting and pleading in the alley behind our house.  It was a full moon out and a Korean woman was bowing to the moon and praying to it out loud.

To this backdrop of paganism, fear and superstition, my father arrived with the family to preach the gospel of the saving grace of Jesus Christ.  The people were thirsty for the good news, and through the work of the many Christian missionaries that came to Korea, this nation went on to become the most Christianized country in the Orient.  Korea now sends missionaries all over the world.

As part of his mission work, my father taught in Christian colleges, Christian Theological Seminaries, built and helped stock libraries for these schools, taught and preached at leper colonies, distributed food to orphanages and old folks homes, among many other things.  He was often invited to preach in small, struggling, fledgling churches way out in the country side.  Often these churches were hours away and sometimes close to inaccessible.  My brothers, my sister, and I often went along on these trips and helped pass out Christian tracts, Bibles, and other reading material.

On one particular trip to a far off country church, my brother Sterling and I got up with Dad at about 4:00 a.m. on a Sunday morning to start out on our journey so that we could get there in time for Dad to preach.  I was about nine years old at the time.  It was rainy season in Korea and it had been raining already for many days. 

Our Land Rover made it out of Pusan City onto a narrow mountain road.  The gravel road with numerous pot holes had no railings and there were quite a few partially washed out areas.  One driving mistake or a land slide out from under us and we would have fallen hundreds of feet to our death.  There was enough room for one vehicle so when we came upon a bus coming the other direction, we had to stop.  My father got out in the rain and in the headlights of both vehicles, I could see my father having a heated discussion with the bus driver as to who was going to back up.  My father evidently convinced him that the last place that we could have squeezed past each other on the road was much farther back on our side than theirs.  So the bus backed up in the dark in the rain and we followed until we came to a place that was barely wide enough for us to get past each other.

When we finally made it down into the valley, we came upon a greatly swollen river much like the one in the picture below.  There was no bridge, and during the rest of the year, you could drive through the shallow water and make it to the other side with no problem.

But, now there was no choice but to gun the engine, and plow through the water hoping the four wheel drive would get us through to the road on the other side.  It had worked before.

Well, the engine got flooded half way across and we were stuck in the middle with the water in the car all the way up to our waists.

Dad put the car into first gear and turned the starter key so that when the battery turned the engine over, it would move us a little ways forward.  He did this quite a few times and we did make some headway so that we were about two thirds of the way across when the battery finally gave out.

Sterling and I got out of the car and, with water up to our chests, tried to push the vehicle while Dad pushed and steered from the driver's side of the car.  Well, with too little man power and rushing water upsetting our footing and pounding the side of our vehicle we did not make any headway. 

So, Dad told Sterling and me to wade (and that is using the word very loosely) across to the far side and find a farmer that could bring a cow and a rope to tow us out.  In the dark, fighting the current, we made it to the other side without being washed away.  We had to walk up the road about a quarter of a mile or more in the near total darkness because of the clouds and rain until we found a farmer's house.  We knocked and knocked until the farmer woke up and came to the door.   He was not happy to be woken up at 5:00 in the morning, but his dour glare turned immediately into bewildered astonishment at the sight of two little American boys at his doorstep.  We spoke good Korean and explained the situation to him.  He graciously got his cow and some rope made out of straw and followed us back to the river. 

With the help of the farmer and a strong cow that was used to pulling a plow, we made it to the other shore. 

‚ÄčWe pushed the car and Dad popped it into first gear, jump starting the car.

We thanked the farmer and headed on our way. 

When we finally made it to the country church, soaking wet and two hours late, the whole congregation was still there waiting for us, singing and praying.

Farmer's wife leading a cow with a straw rope.

Reverend Theodore Hard preaching at a country church in Korea.

Reverend Theodore Hard street preaching in Korean village.