Love in Action
Report from Korea
God’s Mercy Provides a Warm Current in the Cold of Winter
By the Seoul News Group (Originally in Korean)
On November 22 and 26, 2005, Seoul initiates visited their city’s Poi-dong and Gaepo-dong districts to deliver Master’s love and much needed aid in the form of special Christmas gifts. In these areas the power supply to many homes had been limited and so the residents were in dire need of assistance during the cold winter season. Each family received 200,000Won (200 US$) and two bags of rice (10kg per bag).
Both Poi and Gaepo have low-income neighborhoods where the residents make their living by pushing bicycle-drawn carts and picking up litter, scrap metal, glass bottles and other refuse for recycling. With the help of the Korea Electric Power Company, the fellow initiates were able to locate thirteen destitute local households whose power had been limited due to inability to pay their electric bills.
Moreover, most of the families the initiates visited were ineligible for social welfare benefits and so had never received any. Thus, when the practitioners contacted them they were surprised, and all asked the same question: “How did you find us?” In South Korea, those classified as welfare beneficiaries are often provided with support and services from charitable organizations. By contrast, many households that cannot afford to pay their electric bills and are in extreme need of assistance are not on the social welfare register because they fail to fit the criteria set by the government. In fact, one disabled resident from the Gaepo area complained to the initiates, “Society helps only visibly unfortunate families while many more desperate people remain in need.” So when the sisters and brothers told him they were helping local residents whose power supply had been diminished, he praised and thanked them repeatedly, saying, “You’re doing good things that should absolutely be done.”
Virtually every household that the initiates helped had heart-breaking stories to tell. Most consisted of single elderly women raising their grandchildren alone who could not receive benefits because they did not meet the above-mentioned government requirements. Thus it is extremely difficult for them to live without external support. For example, one old woman raising her grandson on her own had been unable to pay the boy’s school tuition so the brothers and sisters provided the tuition money and the grandmother was deeply grateful.
In another household, the occupants were undergoing extreme hardship because the uncle was trying to help raise his nephew but had difficulty finding work after being released from prison. And in a different case, a single mother who had been hit by a series of financial misfortunes was struggling to raise her son and pay off her debts. So when the initiates gave the desperate woman Master’s gifts, she was overwhelmed and burst into tears, thanking them profusely and expressing her interest in Master’s teachings by saying, “I want to know more about Her.”
Also among the families visited were two that refused to take the initiates’ offerings of aid and said, “There are even poorer people than us. Please help them instead.” So as they suggested, the initiates revisited one of the most needy families in the area and conveyed the neighbor’s concern along with their gifts.
Thus, despite the heavy snow and severity of the coldest Korean winter in thirty years, which caused great suffering for the poor, the Seoul initiates consistently felt the warmth of the people they helped through the Poi-dong/Gaepo-dong aid project, as God bestowed Hiers love, grace and much-needed material aid. So the sisters and brothers thank Master for allowing them to help their less fortunate compatriots, and pray that all who are in pain can gain peace and happiness. ♥
Experiencing the Essence of Christmas by Serving the Needy
By the Busan News Group (Originally in Korean)
On Christmas Eve 2005, fellow initiates from the Busan Center prepared delicious vegetarian food and gifts of warm clothing for the homeless at a shelter in the area around Busan Station, the southern terminus of the train line linking Busan with Seoul.
Most shelters around Busan Station receive support from private donations and the local government, but this aid is not always sufficient to meet their needs, especially during the holiday season. Furthermore, this year one of the shelters would have been unable to provide food for the needy on December 24 and 25 because the nearby church, which normally contributes the food, was unable to offer its usual amount. So, at lunch time on Christmas Eve, the initiates provided approximately forty homeless guests with traditional rice-cake soup, fruit and warm underclothes for their underprivileged friends.
Before long, representatives of another local facility, the Blue Cross Shelter, also asked for help because they normally serve needy people breakfast and supper but not lunch. So since the practitioners had prepared extra food, they happily went to the facility and served rice-cake soup to about eighty people, who were all deeply moved and greatly appreciative of the treat. All of the guests also received warm winter underclothes as wintertime in Korea is generally severe, and during this season undergarments are essential for everyone. Upon receiving their food and gifts the gratitude that emanated from deep within the recipients’ hearts was obvious, giving the initiates the best reward they could ever obtain. Besides helping the homeless, the initiates also gave thirty boxes of vegetarian noodles to elderly people living alone in Bugok-dong.
The Busan practitioners are sincerely thankful to our dear Master for giving them the chance to help the needy, and they will forever remember Master’s words: “At Christmas, instead of waiting to get presents, buy presents for people that you know, on the street even, or people you don’t know. If you go out and seek out the homeless, give them presents. That’s the best Christmas.” Thus, ever since the initiates conducted the Christmas Eve 2005 gift-sharing activities, the inner joy and true happiness of the experience lives on within their hearts. ♥
Offering Timely Food to the Disabled
By the Gwangju News Group (Originally in Korean)
Gwangju’s Milal House (meaning ‘kernel of wheat house’) and Naju’s House of Resurrection are social service facilities for the mentally disabled run by a local Protestant pastor. The House of Resurrection houses sixty residents and each month since November 2004 has received daily necessities such as rice, kimchi (spicy pickled cabbage), adult diapers and other items from Gwangju Center initiates, who have built a close relationship with the staff and even laid a new floor for the building. And currently, seven residents live at Milal House, which the initiates first learned of during a 2005 vegetarian festival.
In December 2005, the sisters and brothers promised the staffs of the two facilities that they would provide them with Kimchi and celery cabbage but had to postpone delivery of the food due to heavy snows in the area that lasted for three weeks. The initiates had bought over four hundred heads of celery cabbage from nearby farmers, but were unable to dig them up because the cabbage gardens remained covered with heavy snow during the period. And then, since most of cabbage dug up after three weeks was frozen or shriveled, the sisters and brothers had to purchase more at a price three times higher than normal.
Next, after many twists and turns, beginning on January 1, 2006, the initiates spent three days diligently making kimchi, and on January 6 and 7 delivered 150 heads of cabbage to Milal House and 150 kilograms of kimchi to the House of Resurrection.
Since they had been concerned about the rising price of cabbage, representatives of the two facilities deeply thanked the initiates for the kimchi and cabbage they provided. Thus, in the end, the delay in the delivery became a timely and precious form of aid to the institutions. And the fellow initiates were pleased when the residents happily ate the vegetarian kimchi and many commented, “It’s delicious!”
Through their food-sharing effort with the Milal House and House of Resurrection, the Gwangju initiates came to realize that God always comforts us through our neighbors’ hands after a disaster. And now they are more determined than ever to help restore well-being to their region, which recently suffered from a spate of heavy snows. ♥