One that is long overdue
I dont know why I haven’t posted this note before, but I guess now is as good a time as any.
As some of you may know, I spend much of my free time at an orphanage on the east side of Seoul. It is quite an experience, and I could proabably write a blog devoted exclusively to what goes on there. But one thing does stand out:
My friend Josh introduced me to the kids there. Incidentially, he and I worked together at a summer camp in Pennsylania a few years ago. I had been in Seoul for about 5 months before I managed to go with him to the orphanage. Josh came to Korea over a year before I did, and started hanging out at Myungjin (the orphanage’s name) then. He had developed deep relationships with those kids.
After I had started going there for a few weeks, I had one of those lasting experiences – the kind that life lessons are really built on. The boys were going to bed, and they started pleading with me “기도!” (Ki-do). I wasn’t sure what they were talking about, but a hand guesture went a long to teaching me a new word. One boy held is hands together – and it hit me: 기도 means “to pray.” Soon, more than one boy was chanting it over and over again. It wasn’t a complete surprise. The orphanage is conected to a smal Christian organization. The kids have chapel every Wedensday and go to church Sunday mornings. And as a camp counsellor for a Christian camp, I have prayed with alot of kids before bed. I was pretty sure I knew how to handle it.
My plan was to get all the boys (there were maybe 10 in the room) to get on their mats. Side note: Beds are not all that common for Koreans. Many people sleep on a mat, directly on the floor. Once everyone was under the covers and quiet, I was going to begin a simple, genaral prayer.
That wasn’t what they expected. Each boy wanted me to pray with them individually. So I did. And then I went home musing over that experience….
Prayer is one of those things that is really hard to understand fully. There is a journey in learning about what it is and why we do it. But that night, those boys showed me something remarkable. Not many children are all that keen on praying unless they are raised with it being a habit. I was struck that these kids who really are rasing each other felt such a burning desire to pray. Not only were they DEMANDING that I pray with them, but they entered into it knowing full well that they weren’t going to understand a word of what I said. That is what really impacted me. I can’t imagine many situations where someone would intentionally thrust themselves into a language situation where there was zero chance of comprehension. Not understanding a language can be a frustrating and overwhelming experiece – that I know! Yet these kids were willing. I think they understand something about the power of prayer that I was missing.
If they didn’t feel like the prayers of me or Josh (who I later found out had started this tradition) could be effective, then they wouldn’t ask for them. The point is they knew that they needed prayer-that it was important. They knew that despite the language barier, God still heard the prayers, and it mattered for them. They knew that God answers prayer. They simply trust in the power of prayer in a way only children can, completely removed of all the chaff that adults build up around things like that.
So – pray for those kids at Myungjin. Pray that they can see God’s hand at work in their lives each day. Pray that they would be able to develop high quality relationships with others in spite fo the abandonment that hangs over their lives. Pray that they can learn to see God as their Abba, Father.
Entry filed under: Living.