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Inathi, I love you!!

Inathi is a very independent and capable child.  However, she is also known in the community as the trouble maker.  After the meeting with her mother and separately with her father, we came to the conclusion that the relationship with her mother needed much improvement.  Inathi was confrontational with her mother with reasons.  Often she refused to go home with her mother after school was  over.  This is what happened with them today during the OLIA Lifestyle ECD Centre monthly seminar.

Update: Now Inathi runs to her mother with smile when her mother comes to  pick her up after school.

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Sometime they just need hugs

Likuye is quiet and reserved to the point that she would pee on her pants unless the teacher sat her on the toilet periodically.

This scared child was dancing along by mid-day after a long hug. Her heart was beating rapidly and Helen held her until she was calm.  There were two sighs of relief from this little one.

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It came at a great cost

For the past six months, we have worked in the Nkanini area planting Righteous Men Assembly (RMA).  We were gaining hundreds of supporters without being able to mobilize them.

The 5 year old girl Anovuyo went missing on Sunday.  4 days later her chopped up and burnt body was found in a refuse bag.  It happened across the road from where we were and we had a children’s march in 2013.  The prime suspect was a neighbor. The witnesses said he was an ordinary looking men in his thirties.  Upon arrest at his work, he demanded to be sent to the police station immediately fearing community members’ retaliation.

Community members requested us to help.  We don’t get involved in the punishment process (due to the violent nature), but many women expressed their fear and wanted us to help them.

It was something that we must do.  Without a plan or understanding the consequences, we decided go around the community and talked to men.  We contacted the people who we knew and talked to anyone that we ran into.  People were angry and suggested to go to the court on Monday to protest.  Our aim wasn’t to fuel the anger, but to focus their attention to Anovuyo’s family and the community that was was deeply troubled.  Slowly, people started to agree to join us.  Some men told us that it was not only women are afraid of men, but also children were expressing their fears towards men candidly.

As we approached at the empty field near the house, we saw politicians and a couple of hundreds of people gathered to discuss the matter.  They were taking turns sharing about the housing problems and other issues.  Every time they came back to the issue of rape, they shouted, “We must kill him.  We must kill him.”

Soon, one of our team members, Mthandazo, took a platform and started speaking boldly.  By then, the crowd grew to a few hundreds of people.  He said, “It is beautiful that we gathered here to discuss this urgent matter.  However, we have 1,5 million victims each year and what is it worth if we only meet after someone was raped and killed?  We have worked in the Nkanini area with the I’m Precious to Jesus Campaign to raise up good men…”  People think the only solution to rape is mob justice but empowering good men such as themselves to prevent things from happening in the first place was a shocking and mind-altering proposition.  When he finished his speech, there was a long silence in the crowd.  As people gathered to get more information, we handed out the leaflets and soon the 500 bracelets we had were not enough.

At the end of the day, Mthandazo said, “Mr, Jung.  It was an amazing day, but why is my heart is so heavy.”  I answered him, “Mthandazo, it was a day which couldn’t have been any better.  God has helped us and it was a great success.  However, any success that came by what happened today, we know it came at a great cost – the young girl’s life.  That is why our work is heavy.  Just as the work of Christ, all the victories we have come from the blood and tears that were shed.”

May you have peace and comfort in His arms, Anovuyo.  You are precious to Jesus.

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The day we went on the permanent mission trip!

It has been 5 years since we left Vancouver.  Sometimes, it feels much longer than 5 years, but this picture was taken on the 10th of August, 2009 at the airport to mark our departure from our home and Abohna’s birth place.  Many things have changed since then.  The changes are not for the better or worse, but they are for being closer to the will of our lord, Jesus Christ.  I am sure our friends in the picture are praying HARD for us, because they are still very close to our hearts.  🙂

Many things have happened in our 5th year in South Africa.

OLIA – Our lives in Africa was registered as an NPO (Non Profit Organization) in South Africa. We have 8 members (Mthandazo, Siyacela, Zuksani, Rev. Kim, Rev. Lim and Rev. Jun) in the management team.  Its ministry includes the “I’m Precious to Jesus Campaign (www.precioustojesus.org)“ and the “Liyabona Montessori Teacher Training”.

The “I’m Precious to Jesus Campaign” was introduced in S. Korea (KookMin Newspaper), at the BTCL (Satellite Bible Classes) Alumni Conference, Sanco (Western Cape civil governing body), World Vision in Lesotho, and the churches around the country.  We held children’s marches in Makhaza in Khayeltisha and Qutubeni in Transkei.  The RMA (Righteous Men Assembly) was held in Mkahaza, Nkanini, Bloemfontein, Gansbaai and in Hermanus.

Liyabona Montessori Preschool has survived through the toughest year financially, but the teachers and children had a wonderful year together creating sweet memories and sharing great love.

Abohna is finishing Grade 1 at Somerset College and Papama is finishing Grade 9.  We had an awesome year.

Thank you for being with us.  We love you and may God bless you.

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I don’t blame those young men who do bad things

Mthandazo’s day starts around 10 am.  He heads down to Nkanini, Khayelitsha, and starts knocking on the shack doors.  Surely the spring is here, but the violently unpredictable weather proves to him again that the only power he possesses is the message that was given to us.  Over and over again he hears that the biggest problem is rape from the community members, which he already knows.  What strikes him is how the community has been dealing with perpetrators.  Over the years, they have resulted to two seemingly satisfying methods, burning or cutting off.  There is no evidence that those proven to be ineffective methods should be considered otherwise there, but some people were placing strong trust in those ways.  Mthandazo has been winning over many people, yet some can’t imagine that there is a better way.

At the end of the day, Mthandazo strolled down to the edge of the town.  There was an older man at one of the mini-braai shops.  He introduced himself as Nqwathi (his clan name).  He was frying cow guts which is an unusual job for a man and can be considered demeaning for many.  Mthandazo decided to share the campaign message and add him to his list of Reached-Outs.  With the end of the day enthusiasm, Mthandazo went on. In the middle of the mini-speech, he stopped Mthandazo and started saying, “You know, I don’t hate them and especially I don’t blame them, the rapists or even other robbers.”  Mthandazo asked, “What do you mean?”  He went on to share the following.

“I know what you are talking about.  I was born in Transkei and raised by my father and he was raised by his father.  As I look back, we have taught our young ones to be that way.  For them, they have no choice, but to be that way.  Think about it, in Nkanini when we catch a rapist, we burn them to death or cut their penis off.  That is the message we are giving to our young ones.  They will grow up with such violence and they will do the same thing, and their children will do the same thing.”

We seek to empower those who are righteous and humble as Jesus have said theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven.

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One More Thing…

We don’t often think about what it means to be a family. Sometimes the aspiration to define the family happens by necessity to cope with changes that we face such as a loss or gain of a family member.

I am facing one of those instances. Nobody has passed away and ‘no’ Helen is not pregnant, but we are about to gain a new family member. Fortunately, we can ease ourselves into it, but the twist is that the new family member is a teenage girl. We don’t know how it will it work or if it would work at all, but we wanted to share with you so you can walk with us in this journey.

Papama (fore mentioned girl) has no biological parents and has two younger half-brothers. Helen and I have been her parental guardians for her school for the past two years and we have been growing closer since.

Recently, Helen and I have deeply considered to have her stay with us permanently. Even though she has been spending weekends and school breaks with us, there will be many things that we need to sort out. Especially accepting each other as family. To tell you the truth, we don’t know how it works. A Korean-Canadian missionary family adopting a South African teenage daughter living in a predominantly white SA neighborhood cannot be one of the titles we can find in a Self-help section.

So there you have it. Despite all other things that has happened in the last few months, this is the one thing that we would like you to pray for us.  Special thanks to those who started and supported this ministry, Josh Min, Issac Jeon, Paul Kim, Rachel and Dennis Yoo, Jiyeon and Gary Wong.

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Sharing lives

“Praise be to the God and Faith of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of compassion and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves received from God”

It is a blessing to share our lives with people we care for. As a missionary, I started to understand how beautiful it is to witness them grow in Christ.

Today, teacher Wendy came with teary eyes and wanted to consult with Jung. I have to admit her reactions to whatever she is going through have gotten much better. She doesn’t sob uncontrollably as she used to and she doesn’t faint and lie down for hours as she used to. I was overwhelmed as it is and she constantly brought something to add on every week, no, almost every day. I used to get really depressed in the first year swamped in Wendy’s problems. When my husband did his best for Wendy’s family with their problems, all I could do to help was not to interfere. Since I was constantly in my own crisis, I didn’t have any room to help others.

It has been five years since we opened the Montessori ministry. The ministry has grown a lot and God has granted us a land to build the township preschool as well. Since last year, in partnership with missionary Jaemin Kim, we started Montessori training with teachers in Khayelitsha preschools. The building of the township preschool, where Wendy will be guiding children, is being delayed beyond our control, but the training in Khayelitsha gave me new insights and helped me realize what God has been doing in me through the ministry. God used the 5 years I had spent working with Wendy as a strong foundation to open my heart towards the Khayelitsha teachers with confidence. Xhosa people are twice as big as I am and often rigid faced with loud voices. I had gone through numerous trials and errors working with Wendy and Pinky, and many times I felt like giving up. I blamed God and my life more often than I’d like to admit. However, He comforted me every single time in the right ways and blessed me with wisdom and renewed hope. It slowly changed me to confess that He is the lord of my life and surrendered myself into the simple idea that the life of a missionary is the life in Christ.

When challenges came, we sat around and opened the Bible together. We simply shared the presence of God and laid down our burdens before Him like a bride awaits for the groom. We practiced together.

Once again, Wendy brought us news that burdened our hearts. Her sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. Her denial and refusal to get it checked out made the condition very dangerous. Her father passed away with lung cancer last year and her daughter, Lisa, battles with critical asthma attacks and gets hospitalized almost every other week. Since her father passed away, Wendy is the breadwinner of the family of 8. These days she doesn’t faint, get drunk and disappear, nor fight with people every time something bad happens as she used to. She just comes to school as a loving and kind teacher serving children and living the life God has given her.

When I wanted to break down and cry, she encouraged me by saying, “Thank you Ms. Helen, we are nothing without you. Because of you, we can do nice and meaningful work.” Today, I want to encourage Wendy in the same way that I am nothing without her and I can do so much in God because of her.

For the past five years, I have received God’s comfort and realized that He is commanding me to share His comfort with others who are hurting and struggling.

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A beginning of a precious life

This baby girl was born on 16th of April, 20014. I was the last stranger she met (besides the medical workers), before she was force-delivered due to the life threatening seizure attacks the mother was having that morning. My phone rang around 4:30 a.m. with her father’s desperate plead. They are expected to just sit and wait until I can get to them (it takes me more than 20 minutes to Khayelitsha on an empty highway), but they had no choice because even ambulances won’t come into the township at night. The father didn’t ask me to come, but the situation was obvious what I had to do.

I met her father for the first time during the first Righteous Men Assembly as part of the I’m Precious to Jesus Campaign early this year. He gave us a very hard time by opposing us every step of the way during the presentation. In the end, he contested us with his questionable, illegal sexual activities that contradicted the campaign message. We all suspected it, but it was only after a few months of his soul searching that he shared with us that he was a victim of sexual abuse as early as 8 years of age for many years to come. It confirmed many things that we believed about sexual violence in SA and it broke our hearts to face it personally.

He became a transformed man. He paid attention to the bible studies and he became one of the most active advocates of the Campaign. His faith for the campaign was there. However, his past of promiscuity and all the events that shaped him that way for many years wasn’t something that he could simply switch off. He had a son that he had out of wedlock and his current girlfriend was 8 months pregnant. He was still lost in the idea of marriage and, refusing to make any commitment until he is confident and ready, which he didn’t see coming anytime soon.

Wondrous things went into high gear just a few days before Indalo was born. I was sitting with him in my car and talking about marriage while we were waiting for the staff meeting. He said he was still heart-broken from losing his true love. The conversation went to what God had intended in a marriage and what to look for in a spouse to build it. That it is about how much can we treasure and respect our spouses and not our infatuations. Then he started to share about how his pregnant girlfriend had stuck through his many serious mistakes and still had been there for him. How she is respectable and forgiving towards incidents that should have hurt her severely. Especially, how much she loves him without verbalizing it once. Even though she was pregnant with his baby, they had never seriously discussed about their relationship. When we finished and walked in to the meeting, I realized my phone accidently dialled his phone, which he left at home, and was left on for 15 minutes. I simply dismissed it.

That evening, I got a message from him that his pregnant girlfriend did answer the phone (she was home) and listened in to our conversation. If it was 15 minutes, it had been during the time he was talking about her. How respectful he was towards her and it would be her that he could cherish and honour. I thought it was an incredible coincidence, which isn’t incredible at all in God’s perspective. With a single blow, God had their relationship grow deeper and more meaningful in an unimaginable way.

In the early morning of 16th of April, I walked into his shack and saw Indalo’s mother having multiple seizures with her inside the womb. I quickly prayed for her and took her to the emergency room. It was due to the high blood pressure that the baby’s life was in danger, so they performed an emergency caesarean section. The doctors said if she was left untreated any longer with more seizures, the baby could have died.

It was the Easter weekend and the baby and her mother were in the hospital and the father was home alone. The following week during the staff meeting he shared that he was struggling. He tried to drink, but he was not comfortable. He tried to hang out in his usual places, but he was not comfortable. He just stayed in bed all day, but on Saturday evening, he walked into a church. It was a life-changing experience for him. Other people’s passionate prayers didn’t intimidate him and the words from the preacher were encouraging to him. He even shared a Bible passage that inspired him.

It was only on the 24th that I got to meet Indalo personally. I am not a stranger to infants, but she was surprisingly small. I couldn’t take my eyes off the thin Q-tip sized fingers. As I was praying for her with my hand on her head, God spoke to me and gave me a conviction that everything that was happening in her parents’ lives was to prepare for Indalo and that she was truly precious. It started to make sense to me. Indalo could have been born into just another family with a father with drinking and commitment issues and a mother who lives with a broken heart. God had done many things to give her a loving family. Still, there will be serious challenges ahead, but I had faith that the family was under God’s grace. I found great peace while I was praying for her. I didn’t have much to offer to this new born baby, but God showed me a glimpse of the great Hope of the redemption to the struggles that we have in serving in South Africa.

Children (0-17) living with:
Mother only : 40%
Father only : 3%
Neither: 23%
Children with absent, living fathers: up from 42%(1996) to 48%(2009)
(SAIRR 2011)

South Africa ranks highest in the world for single-parent households.

The problems in South Africa are multi-faceted, but there seems to be conclusive evidence that one of the largest problems is with South African men.“The failure of men to acknowledge and/or support their children, together with high rates of sexual and physical abuse, which is perpetrated mainly by men, points to a situation of ‘crisis of men’in South Africa.”(Eddy and Holborn 2011)

– From Missionary Elliot Suhr’s Report on Youth in SA.

Many have lost hope, but we can write a new song for our future

Pastor Obey contacted us after Makhaza children’s march (March of the Young Ones) we had with Burnett Fellowship Mission team from Vancouver. He said that one of the congregation members brought her daughter to him and shared about the campaign. The mother and daughter told him about the campaign with such excitement and testified that they felt like Jesus was with them and felt much safer (Makhaza is an exceptionally dangerous area).

We invited Pastor Obey to attend ‘Righteous Assembly’ and after the presentation he praised the campaign and said, “Many have lost hope, but we can write a new song for our future.”

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Trip to Lesotho for I’m Precious to Jesus Campaign

I had nose bleed every morning.  It was the gushing kind.  Abohna looked into the toilet bowl and said “Wow! Too much blood daddy.”  Helen got violently ill in the middle of the night.  Abohna suddenly refused to go to school.  He ended up missing one day and went late the next day.  All that drama abruptly ended when Pastor Jun and I drove off to the airport to fly to Lesotho.  Pastor Jun also shared that it also was an eventful week leading up to the trip.  We were in agreement that “S*omebody (*atan)” doesn’t want I’m Precious to Jesus Campaign to happen in Lesotho.

As soon as we got on the plane, everything went as smooth as a well edited movie.  We could see God had prepared it for us.  Pastor Jun had arranged a meeting with Integrated Programmes Director, Mafupu Mokoena, of World Vision Lesotho to implement the campaign in Lesotho.  Pastor Jun and I had decided to focus on the impacts the rape has on children and how to protect them through empowering men (Righteous Assembly) during the presentation.  Ms. Mokoena and her team were very impressed and asked us to draw up a detailed proposal.

We spent the rest of the time with missionary Uksu Kim’s family.  Oh, the lovely children he had.

It was another big step in Lesotho after the children’s march last November.