My Heart for the Orphanage in Korea
Although I did not know it, God has been making a special place in my heart for orphans in Korea. Before this realization, I would always say to myself that one day I would do something with orphanages in Korea. I didn’t know anything about Korean orphanages nor had I ever visited one. However, every time I would go visit Korea, I would always think I should visit an orphanage while I was there. It was, however, just a thought and I never followed through. But all the while, God was making a special place in my heart for orphans in Korea.
After graduating from college and starting work as a teacher for five years, I lost the intimate relationship I had with Christ. I tried to spend time with God, but I was too caught up with my life and wasn’t concerned with what God wanted me to do. I was more and more focused on what my needs were. My quiet time with God became ritual and wasn’t going anywhere. Months would go by without me spending time with God. Even when I felt a desperate need for God’s presence, I would substitute it with comfort from other people. I did not think about this longing in my heart at all the summer of 2007. In the summer of 2008, I felt that it was time for me to put into action what was in my heart. In God’s amazing way, He led me to discover an organization called Jerusalem Ministry, a nonprofit organization in Seoul that endeavors to fill orphanages with loving, committed Christian volunteers.
Myeong Jin Orphanage
Through Jerusalem Ministry, I was connected to Myeong Jin Orphanage. I spent the summer of 2008 working there as a volunteer. Although I struggled doing quiet time in the States, I knew the importance of consistent quiet time with Him -that it would make the whole difference in my staying in the orphanage. My teammate and I committed to study Romans. We read it separately then came together to share. This accountability helped me to have consistent quiet time. During my quiet times, God was leading me to repentance with my past sins as well as present sins. Also, God was re-teaching me how to meditate on His word, reminding me of His promises for His people and for myself. He was revealing His heart to me and His love for His people -for Myeong Jin children.
During my stay at Myeong Jin Orphanage, I learned that it is extremely hard to reach the hearts of the children. They have deep scars in their hearts. Although I had worked with children for five years in a regular classroom, I had never experienced rejection from children as I did at Myeong Jin. Although children of different age groups had various ways of accepting volunteers, many showed coldness toward my teammates and me. One of the middle school girls shared much later how she hated me at first. She hated the fact that I asked too many questions and was trying so hard to get to know her better. She didn’t see the point of getting personal with volunteers since they come and go without developing any real relationships. Another middle school girl shared that she normally is very mean to volunteers as well. One of the high school girls expressed that she wished she had one person who would push her to strive harder for her dreams.
Approximately 5 % of the children in any given Korean orphanage are true orphans, without parents. The remaining 95% have their biological parents still living, yet they are in an orphanage. Many of these children keep in touch with their biological parents. Each child has his or her story of how he/ she ended up at the orphanage. Throughout my stay at Myeong Jin I kept praying to God that, although their stories might be sappy sounding at the moment, they would not end here. I prayed that every story will have a turning point and will finish as a story of hope with the love of God. That was my prayer for each of the Myeong Jin children.
With only three more weeks left to go, I couldn’t believe that it was almost time for me to think about leaving. Even before I came, I was aware that this was a sowing ministry and that I would not see any fruits within the two months. Still, I got frustrated at times for not seeing any changes in these children. I got to know them better, but was I making any impact in their lives? I was pondering about why God has sent me to Korea if I wasn’t making any significant difference in these children’s lives.
With frustration, a broken heart, and many other factors, my teammates and I went to the Friday Fire (the church prayer meeting). We were supposed to have a guest speaker who had the gift of prophecy. I was ready to hear what God had in mind for me through the guest speaker. With great disappointment, the guest speaker was unable to attend that night. I began to pour my heart out to God. I laid down all my frustrations, questions, everything in me, to God. Then suddenly, I heard God’s audible voice saying, “You thought this adventure was over, but this summer is just the beginning of the adventure. Now is the time. Surrender everything to me.” Suddenly, all my fears swamped over me. “God! What about my job? God, what about my parents? They will never understand. Good luck with convincing them, Lord! What about my age (not too young like other volunteers), my future, and financial needs? I was afraid to be alone in Seoul- far away from my family, my friends, and my comfort zone. Even with my fears, I told God that I was going to surrender and obey Him, knowing that He would be here with me. However, I told God that I would need some confirmations. About an hour later, when everyone was singing the last few songs, I started praying by myself. Suddenly, I heard someone praying for me. At first, I thought it was one of my teammates who was praying for me, but it wasn’t. It was a stranger’s voice. The person was praying that God has started the fire in me and he is going to consume me with this fire. She told me not to be fearful and that God is the one who has given me this passion and He is going to guide me through everything. God is going to comfort me so that I can comfort others. I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. It surely was a confirmation from God. After that person had prayed for me, she apologized for coming and praying for me even though she didn’t know me. She said that she normally doesn’t go to strangers and pray for them but the urge from God was so strong that she couldn’t disobey it. Also, she mentioned that she could sense that Holy Spirit was all over me and she was empowered by the spirit while she was praying for me. In addition, she gave me a verse that came to her mind while she was praying for me. It was John 16:33- I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” God told me these things so that I could have peace.
Confirmations from God
Even after God had confirmed his plan for me with a sister, my faith was too small. I had to ask God for more confirmations. Two days later, during Sunday service, God spoke to me through the pastor’s message. The title of the sermon was The Perfect Will of God. The pastor said that God has the perfect will for each one of us. Some people do not want to obey and make their own decision. God is still gracious and uses our choices, and redeems the choices, which makes it the permissible will of God. Many people try to know God’s perfect will for them through others who might have the gift of prophecy. However, God wants us to hear God’s perfect will for our lives directly from Him. After that, God might confirm it through others. Wasn’t that what happen to me two days ago? God was telling that this is the perfect will for me.
Throughout the following week, God used my quiet time to speak from the Bible. He gave me verses like 1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm, let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” He was telling me to be strong and let nothing hinder me from coming back to Myeong Jin and that I will be doing the work of the Lord. He also gave me 1Corinthians 16:10, “If Timothy comes, see to it that he has nothing to fear while he is with you, for he is carrying on the work of the Lord, just as I am.” Timothy was without fear because he was doing the work of the Lord. God was telling me not to fear.
I am so awed by how God has changed me. He took someone who was struggling to do a daily quiet time and turned her into one who holds on to the passage from her quiet time as confirmation from God. Slowly, little by little, God was teaching me how to surrender myself to Him. Everything I thought was important in my life back in the States was not a big deal anymore. As I was surrendering daily to Him, He brought back my passion and my longing from years ago. God was just waiting for me to have total surrender to Him once again.
I told one of the high school girls, Jung Kyung, that I have resigned from my teaching position in the states and I will be returning back to them. She was shocked to know that anyone is giving up something because of them and told me that I must really love them. However, I told her that, “It is God who really loves you!”
There is one tough high school girl named Hyo Jin. She is the one high school girl that middle school girls fear to approach. She can be demanding and rough on the people who are younger than her. (There is an unspoken hierarchy rule that Korean people follow). However, Hyo Jin just acts tough on the outside but really is a tender hearted girl. She never learned how to show others love because she never received the love herself. You can only show what you learned. One day, Hyo Jin came over to our room right before we were about to sleep. She just made herself comfortable and lay down next to me. I was just started to pat her head. She told me that I felt like her mom although she can’t quite remember her since she died when she was young. Ever since then Hyo Jin started calling me “mommy”. The tough older sister to the younger girls just needed to be loved as much as younger ones. After that night, Hyo Jin came over to our room regularly and poured out her heart to me like any other teenager girls would do with her mom.
Many of the high school girls were timid to learn English when my team and I first came to Myeong Jin. They were embarrassed by the fact that their skills were very low for their grade level and they refused to learn English from us. Now that they know that I have returned, many girls have pick up learning English. As I am working with them, I see how their confident has been rising.
Now that I’ve been living in Korea for awhile working with Myeong Jin children, sometimes it is not easy to see too much changes in the children. However, I wonder what would have happened to some of these children if I wasn’t there for in the moments that I was there to comfort and encourage them. Although I might not see too much of tangible fruits of my ministry, but every day God is the one who will complete the work that He had began in me and through me. He is also reminding me to seek Him only and He does only good for those who love Him. God is good!