TWO ROADS, ONE SAVIOR
by: Jackson Ethier
When I think about how deep some of my closest relationships are, I often think of my friendship with Jong as one of the deepest and richest. Jong and I met in 2009 at a Bible study that he led for my younger brother and some of his friends. As I sat in and listened to him speak and I saw his deep love for the Lord and his people. After that Bible study, I struck up a conversation with him about his life and he shared his story as to how he got here. As he began to dive into his history, I felt it as though it were my own. I mean, I’m from here, but I was so entranced by the concept of a different culture that I wanted to know more. His parents brought him and the rest of his family (mom, older brother, and sister) over from South Korea after Jong was born. His parents were pretty strict and tended to consider order and obedience as a highly valued quality in their children. With that strictness, unfortunately, came physical abuse when that order they desired was ever broken. My own father was emotionally abusive to me as a child, so hearing these details about his life, I could totally relate to him. Having broken relationships with fathers draws us near to significant males figures to help us navigate our way through the depths of our brokenness.
Some may see that we are bound to each other by our brokenness, but I would say we are bound to each other by the victory of Christ in us. We have fought and sought to be the truest of friends, brothers, and Christ-followers; walking shoulder to shoulder the whole way. I have seen his relationship with his father blossom into a beautiful flower of redemption. I have seen God make the way for him to go to Biola University (roughly $130,000) based almost solely on donation, for the most part, from people he doesn’t even know. It’s crazy.
I am a naturally stubborn and independent person so putting down walls to let God heal and change me was more than difficult, at times, I even thought it impossible. Jong has an enormous heart for the Lord. He is patient and understanding with those who need it as well as wise with those who need wisdom. He exudes vulnerability in seemingly everything he does and in doing so also teaches me to humble myself and relent; to come to the Lord with open palms instead of clinched fists; instead of saying, “Let me just hold on to this” like I normally would, I open up and say, ”Lord you hold onto this”.
Our most memorable conversations have happened driving to and from places. Whether it is to hang with friends and laugh or share comfort in sorrowful and solemn times, the constant is the road. On the road, we discuss, argue, debate with, listen to, and encourage each other to become the men God has created us to be. There have been many road trips, both short and long, and there will be many to come. Our roads are always merging. Sure, sometimes we have spells where we don’t see each other for a while. That’s natural. Yet his road from South Korea and mine from Ventura, California collide and we merge into brothers who not only love each other deeply, but, furthermore love our Savior deeply. Although we travel two different difficult roads, yet one unconditionally vulnerable, loving and Almighty Savior.
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