We had our 6th annual soccer camp on July 22-24th. 47 boys from six different homes participated this year. This camp was so special. Although it was my 11th camp (soccer and arts & crafts camps combined) over 5 years, this camp helped me to reflect back on what God had done through these camps.
In Summer 2008, I came as one of summer interns and participated the very first camp of the ministry without thinking too much about the camp or knowing the purpose behind the camp. I remember the camp being kind of ghetto having children wearing pennies, the kind that we used to wear in physical education class back in the days. My role was very simple. I just brought Myeong Jin children back and forth and my main job was filling up the water bottles for the boys. The volunteers weren’t even assigned to teams. But I remember how God has used that camp to bless the boys so much.
( 2008 Soccer Camp)
I got to see all the improvement over the years has been awesome! On the second camp, we had nice uniform shirts with better lunches. One of Myeong Jin boy’s shorts ripped in the middle of the camp. I remember I had to drive him back to Myeong Jin to get different pair of shorts. God knew this can not happen again so he got us the full uniform the following year. When we had the boys changed into their new full uniforms (shirt, shorts and socks), they were just filled with joy just by changing into their new uniforms. Fourth year, we had a huge sponsor who had paid for most of our expanses. We even rented a commercial bus for one of the homes. Also, I feel like God was starting to build relationship with different homes that year. By our fifth year, God had moved us to a better location. We were able to get US Army base for nice turf soccer fields. God’s grace was all over the past camps!
(2010 Soccer Camp, first year to have full uniforms)
(2010 Soccer Camp- We were in dirt fields)
One of the best thing about the past camps was the weather. We always held our camps during monsoon season. However, God would totally dry out the land for us to have the soccer camp. We would literally experience God clearing out the sky right before the starting of the camp. And it would stay clear until the moment we were done with our last activity on the last day of the camp. This pattern continued for the last five years. I totally thought this pattern will continue on as long as we have the camp. But I was wrong…
I woke up 6 a.m. in the morning of our first day of camp. It was pouring outside, and it didn’t look like it was going to stop. But I wasn’t worried since I knew that God did it before, He will surely do it again. I keep praying, “Lord, I do have faith to move the mountain. I do believe that you can move the rain to another day!” But the rain continued on….7 a.m……8 a.m… in the midst of all this, I was late getting to the camp. I woke up extra early, but I took the subway train going to the opposite direction. How could this happen? I take this route so often that I should be able to get there even with my eyes closed. Out of all the odds, I was late. But I wasn’t the only one who was late. The camp head director, John-Michael, and the other director, Larry and our staff, Mijeong were all stuck in traffic. We were all late. And I don’t think it was coincidence. Us four were the only ones who had attend soccer camp for all five years, and He purposely had us be late so that we can watch and see what God can do. By the time I got there, 8:30 ish and still raining hard outside, all the volunteers were in the lobby of a hotel waiting for us. Calvin, our contact to US Army base, got us a temporary place for the boys to stay inside 9-10a.m.
Without any clear alternative plans, the boys started to arrive to the camp in the pouring rain. They were all drenched in rain. Then and there, I asked God, “What’s going on, God? Didn’t you show us so much favor? I know that you want this camp for these boys so what’s going on?”
(As you can see, the boys were soak and wet when they first arrived. These are my Myeong Jin boys chilling in the lobby of a hotel before they walked over to a gym.)
As the boys arrive to the camp, we all took them over to the gym that Calvin got us in the pouring rain. The rain looked like it will continue on for another few hours. The boys all sat in the bleachers. As I was walking towards them, my mind was running a thousand miles/an hour at this point yet I didn’t know what to tell them. As soon as I stood before them, I felt like God was telling me to have the boys pray for the weather. I told the boys that God wants to hear their prayers and I prayed a very simple prayer out loud on their behalf. Larry went on with orientation with the boys. As I was standing facing the boys, Jimmy, one of our JM interns, was waving to get my attention. He motioned that the rain completely stopped. This was only within a couple minutes after the prayer. I couldn’t see clearly through the window so I ran outside to check.
I kid you not, the rain that was pouring like it wouldn’t stop for another couple hours has stopped completely. It wasn’t even raining lightly, it completely stopped. I was so excited to tell the boys! I ran over to Larry and whispered in his ear that rain stopped. He made me repeat it a couple of times to trying to fully comprehend and process what he had just heard. We told the boys that God answered their prayers and the rain stopped!!
For the remaining of the first day, the weather was perfect! Not a drop of rain came down that day! The boys looked awesome in their new uniforms and they were all filled with joy! I was really sensing God’s goodness towards these boys!
Later on I was talking to Sky, one of our staff, she woke up that morning sensing that God wanted the boys to pray for the weather! I sensed that God wanted to reveal more of himself to these boys than our previous camps. I knew this was just the beginning…but didn’t know what to expect next~
(a few minutes after the prayer, boys started to walk to a soccer field without needing their umbrellas!)
(Deacon Jung helping a boy gearing up with his new uniform)
(one of our newest additions to this camp was these amazingly nice shoes! God connected us to Diakonia through our sister, Kate Kwon! The camp gets better and better each year! )
(Coach Larry with his team, Real Madrid~)
One thing that I forgot to mention. When we came to the soccer field, there were ton of dragonflies. It was really weird since we used the same field around the same time last year but I couldn’t recall seeing any dragonflies. Larry told me that dragonflies represents God’s favor! Indeed, God’s favor was all over this camp!
Before we went home that day, we made sure to tell the boys to pray for the weather before they go to sleep. 🙂
(Chelsea team praying…)
The second day of the camp, it wasn’t even raining when I woke up. I didn’t even bother to take my umbrella with me. Why bother? I thought! As soon as I walked onto the US Army Base, rain drops started to fall from the skyh. I was like , “God..what’s going on? Do you want me to have the boys pray again?” As soon as the boys got to the camp, we had them pray multiple times, but the rain continued. But it wasn’t pouring like the previous day, but it was just good enough of rain for the boys to play soccer outside. The boys and even volunteers were having so much fun in the rain. Some boys said that God gave them rain so that they can stay cool!
(Min Jun hiding(?) behind Ha Neul)
When the lunch time came around, this was when the whole chaos started. We got a public open area inside a hotel where we got permission for the boys to have lunch. Since it wasn’t a big place to fit all 47 boys, we had them come by team by team. But the problem was the place was heavily air conditioned and all the boys were coming in in their wet uniforms. As the first team came in, all the boys were shivering in cold. I knew if we continue to have the boys come in, they would all catch a cold. To make it worse, it started pouring down outside. It was pouring so much to the point, we felt like we couldn’t continue with the camp. We were planning to just have the boys eat lunch and send them home after changing them into their dried clothes. We had boys move in a van or a car to different places. We had some boys eating hamburgers outside of the hotel at least to keep them warm, and we had some boys just waiting in the tent waiting to eat. When we decided to just divide the kids into two to stay in two different fields until the boys are all fed, we found out that two tents in our small field have collapsed due to heavy rain. Good thing that we didn’t have any boys under the tent. We had no choice but to have everyone under two tents in the bigger field. We had the boys rotate and get dressed into their regular clothes. I was really frustrated at this point. I was wondering what God is thinking at this point. I was like, “God, didn’t you show us so much favor for this camp? Are you going to disregard what you have done yesterday? What happened to your goodness?” I seriously going to have long conversation with God that night!
However, God’s goodness continued on…..
As soon as we had everyone have their lunch, and had all the boys changed into their regular clothes, the rain stopped! The whole field looked very misty looking like we weren’t part of this world. Thank God that we were able to continue on with the camp. We had a penalty shoot out to end the day. Dragonflies were flying around the field as the boys had their penalty shoot out. By end of the second day, it was very hard to think that we had a horrible lunch time! The kids were all smiling as they went home on time that day.
Due to our chaotic lunch time, we had the boys remain with us until 1:15ish when the rain finally cleared out for the day. Therefore we were able to continue with the day. But if we didn’t have that chaotic lunch time, we would have sent the boys home way early. God sure knew what He was doing. I heard later on that night, other parts of Seoul(one source from the east side of Seoul(Hong Dae) and one from the west side of Seoul) stopped raining around 3! No wonder it didn’t feel like we were part of this world!
( We hung the wet clothes on the tent while the boys played in their uniforms)
( Although the staff were all stress our of the rain, it didn’t stop boys to have fun!)
(And it sure didn’t stop the boys receiving love from the volunteers!^^)
(Han Bin rejoicing after he scored for the penalty shoot out)
(Another boy, Hyun Bin, rejoining~)
On the last day, right before the children came to the camp, a couple of rain drops did fall, but we all rebuke them! As soon as we did that, the rain drops stopped!!
When all the children got to the camp, they were all sharing how they all prayed the night before or that morning for the perfect weather for the camp! (and here comes my favorite part of the camp)…..When the boys were all gathered before we started the day, I shared about how God stopped the rain for us a couple hours earlier thatn other places in Seoul on the previous day, they were all amazed!! The boys were all attentive and they were all listening as I was sharing the testimony! I knew God truly revealed himself much more to these boys through this camp than they had ever experienced him in their lives! God is so good!! The last day of the camp was just too perfect! The morning was so nice and cool with overcast skies and the sun even came out when we went swimming! God surely loves these children and His goodness over them is so wonderful!
(They all came to this camp as strangers, but they left this camp as fellow teammates! Manchester United team stretching before they have their game.)
(This boy, Seung Hyok, waited five years to come to this camp. He saw older boys from my home having so much fun in the years past, he always asked me when he gets to go. He finally got his chance this year and had a blast at the camp!)
(Yoon Ki having fun)
(Min Joon going into the pool with his soccer uniform)
Penalty Shoot Out winners!- Team Chelsea
Champions!! Team Barcelona with Coach Calvin!
(Group Picture) The 6th Annual Jerusalem Ministry Soccer Camp
God is shifting things from the past into a new season for these camps. I can’t wait to see how things will change for the better for these camps to come in the future! God surely proved His Love for His Children is amazing and more than what we can ever imagine! His goodness endures forever!!