|Homelessness in Korea|
It can’t always be about yourself. I’ve always had a heart and calling for the homeless no matter where I was. Not only are we commanded to care for the poor, but it is also a growing experience as well. It is difficult to walk away from a day with those who are truly in need, and not feel more grateful for everything you have. Not just money and material possessions, but also a sound body and mind. Everyone is just a few bad situations away from facing similar fates. You just don’t know sometimes in life what direction you’ll be pulled in – good or bad.
|One of our regular friends in need|
I briefly attended a church that didn’t even have a homeless outreach. I don’t really get the sense that the culture and community here have the same level of concern for homeless as back home in America. I first set out randomly with an American family stationed here for business to look for homeless people. Our goal was to give them some sort of physical necessity (a bit of food, clothes, etc) and treat them like humans. It’s hard to imagine what it like to be in their shoes. If we could say a prayer for them, we would (if a translator was available).
|Local TV station at the soup kitchen|
After doing this for 3 or 4 months I heard of a large feeding ministry located outside a nearby subway station, Busanjin. When I finally found it I was amazed at the volume of people being fed there. What I had been doing up to this point was very low key, kind of guerrilla-like where I would speak with one person at a time. This, however, was a very organized, well funded effort. It’s actually a joint effort among several local churches headed up primarily by one outstanding gentleman and his wife. They give a sermon as people come, then volunteers distribute the hot meals (see the video here). I began contacting people to come out weekly to be part of it. This type of volunteering is not for everybody, that’s for sure. Probably why there aren’t a lot of repeat volunteers. It’s gritty and a bit thankless. It’s what you make of it. Nonetheless, people have volunteered and been blessed, as well as being a blessing to those they are serving.
Whether in Korea or America or wherever, it’s good to remind ourselves that it can’t always be about ourselves. If you travel abroad to teach English, volunteering will definitely enrich your experience and make you think in different ways. If you’re ever in Busan, come by the Busanjin feeding ministry and grab a plate.