A letter from Choon Lim in South Korea (Regional Liaison for East Asia)
“Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.” (Matthew 25:40)
One day I saw a movie about how table tennis played a major role in a temporary unification of North and South Korea. It is based on a true story about Hyun Jung Hwa from South Korea and Lee Bun Hee from North Korea in the memorable World Table Tennis Championships in Chiba, Japan, where both countries were addressed as one in 1991. The North and South Korean female teams came together to form a unified team for the first time in history and ended up winning against the formidable Chinese team to become the 41st World Table Tennis champions. The two Korean peninsulas were unified even for just a short time.
On August 26, 2013, I met Lee Bun Hee in Pyongyang. Now she is married and has a son. But I was surprised to hear that she is an executive secretary of the National Paralympic Committee of the Democratic People Republic of Korea (DPRK). Now the proud athlete in North Korea is working for disabled people. It wasn’t easy for her to make a decision to do it. Now she trains only the disabled. But there was a hidden secret that made her decision to work for them. The secret was that her only son has cerebral palsy. I had an opportunity to see her work at Kim Chaec Technical University’s gymnasium in Pyongyang. About 500 players from the country and abroad participated in the table tennis competition among the disabled. With her well-known name it became a very successful event. (I won a gold medal for national college table tennis competition in South Korea in 1973.)
I often saw and heard this kind of story and found out why we might have pain in our lives. God even uses our pains, vulnerability and losses to do God’s mission. The fruits of our lives are often born in them. Sue Kinsler, our leader of this (Green Tree) mission trip has the same pain. Her daughter is also disabled. Out of her tragedy she has worked for the disabled for more than 30 years in South and North Korea.
I don’t have to use the example of other persons. I have all that pain, loss and vulnerability in my body as well. Due to the Korean War (I was born in 1949; the war broke out in 1950) our family was separated. My father lived in North Korea and my mother, elder brother and I lived in South Korea. I presumed my father passed away during the Korean War, but later I found out he had lived in North Korea until 1992. He remarried and has five children who live in Pyongyang now. Before seeing my father’s tomb, my father was my Heavenly Father, my spiritual father, but seeing the tomb, I accepted my physical father and also accepted my siblings. Since I became the PC(USA) regional liaison for East Asia I have had an opportunity to see them often.
I believe God will use my pain, vulnerability and loss for God’s glory. I believe that God will use me for mission in North Korea in God’s way, not my way. So I am humbly seeking God’s will about what to do and how to do it for the people of North Korea who are in poverty and need reconciliation between North and South Korea and the Good News. But I also truly believe that God will use you as individuals or supporting churches for God’s mission. Please join our ministry and help those who are in hunger and need Good News and reconciliation. I deeply beseech you for financial help for our PC(USA) world mission. Your help helps us help.
Together in Mission,