One that is long overdue

April 17, 2007 at 12:11 am 5 comments

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.

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Entry filed under: Living.

The untold story Seoul Land….

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mom & Debi  |  April 17, 2007 at 6:32 am

    We are at Panera for our weekly “prayer partner” meeting and reading your blog to help us get ready to come see you. What a perfect topic this entry was to tenderize our hearts today! We will pray for you and your small friends.

  • 2. rachelle  |  April 19, 2007 at 3:37 pm

    wow.. austin.. that was a good one…. i’m really glad you guys prayed with them.. it makes me happy..
    -r

  • 3. Rachell  |  April 20, 2007 at 10:58 pm

    Hey~ That sounds….beautiful.

    I just finished looking at your pictures. Some made me gasp. Amazing. Some made me giggle.

    A lot helped me to process and experience my experience.

    Does that make sense? Okay.

    I’m happy I met you! See you again.

  • 4. liz  |  April 30, 2007 at 11:12 pm

    Austin,
    man, that was really powerful. Praise God for all the ways He works…all in ways He glorifies Himself! Thanks for sharing about the prayer time at Myungjin. Being there for the first time today made reading your essay more meaningful..I could actually picture the kids waiting for their turns to pray. Keep writing and keep being impacted. By the way, I got to your blog by way of Rachelle’s!

    ~liz

  • 5. a  |  June 14, 2007 at 8:16 am

    i question whether they really understand and put such meaning to the praying that you describe(especially if they can’t understand dwhat you are saying, could it be that they just really enjoy and relish the one on one individual time as it makes them feel special/loved that you have this tradition with them?

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