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Robert Jermain Thomas

Elise Wixtrom writes reviews of VOM resources for readers of kidsofcourage.com. Enter “Elise” in the search box to read about Elise and to find more of her reviews. Read below her review of the Torchlighters DVD, The Robert Jermain Thomas Story. Find out more about Torchlighters DVDs here.

Robert Jermain Thomas, a Welshman living in the 1800s, felt called to become a missionary. However, the Protestant church at the time did not want him to go down that path. Instead, they wanted him to become a pastor and teach Christianity in Wales. He decided to go against their wishes and move to China. He learned Chinese so that he could teach the people in their own language. While learning Chinese, he realized that he had a true knack for languages.

[See a story here about children in Wales today watching a Torchlighters DVD.]

Robert Jermain Thomas’ wife died soon after their arrival in Shanghai. Thomas felt like he could no longer clearly see his purpose. So he took a job at a port-of-entry, taking passports from people traveling into China. While at that job, he discovered that the nation of Korea, very close to China, was closed off to any foreign influence, including religious influence. Here he saw an opportunity to bring the gospel to a people who would never otherwise hear it. There was a problem, though — travel into Korea as a foreigner was illegal. Thomas would have to sneak in.

He eventually made it into Korea, though the journey was difficult. While there, he began to preach the gospel with fervor, even though the introduction of new religion was illegal. Through him, Christ affected many lives for the better.

But the Korean authorities shot the ship he was on with flaming arrows and burned it down. It is unknown how the missionary aboard died — scholars debate whether by fire, drowning, or if he was killed onshore.

But we do know that the authorities killed him with the intent to stop the spread of the message of Jesus Christ in Korea. This did not work, though, because even today there is a thriving community of believers, stretching back all the way to the time when Robert Jermain Thomas originally brought the gospel. There is a story that says that the pages of the Bible that washed up onshore after Thomas’ death were used to wallpaper a Korean man’s home. When a small Christian community grew in the region, they came to read the Bible from the walls.

Though Robert Jermain Thomas’ time in Korea was short, God used his time there to change the lives of many generations of Koreans. Robert Jermain Thomas did what he could, but he let God do the rest.

*See a clip from The Robert Jermain Thomas Story DVD and links to other resources here.