A Lunar New Year’s Feast for the Homeless in Busan

Back home in Florida I would often volunteer at homeless outreaches that my church supported. There was a large one in Ft. Lauderdale that was jointly supported by the city and our church. Reaching out to those in need or even homeless is a rewarding and humbling experience. It helps me to reflect on the issues in my life and immediately see them in a different light. I think King Solomon put it best when he said,

I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless (vanity), a chasing after the wind. (Ecclesiastes 1:14)


20150219_121154When I came to Korea I knew that being involved in a ministry like this would be helpful for me in planting my feet and keeping me sane during the readjustment phase of being in another country.

I actually teamed up with a family from America and headed aimlessly into Busan streets looking for homeless people. It was a completely random effort as we had no familiarity with Busan and also no idea where to find the homeless. Common sense told us that a good place to start would be near bus or train stations and lower income districts. We were right and we eventually stumbled upon some folks sleeping out near Busan Station that told us of a large soup kitchen a couple subway stops down from us.

20150219_121342They were right in directing us to this facility as there were hundreds of people lining up to hear the Word and have their stomachs filled at this location. At Busanjin Station is a complex that is funded and supported by local churches and City Hall that provides multiple meals throughout the week, each week, all year for the thousands in need in Busan.

Ever since those days I’ve attended periodically to lend a hand with handing out food and even speaking at times (with a translator).  It’s a great and blessed place. Even though we may not speak the language, just being there is a welcome gesture to the team as well as the people coming to dine.

20150219_122405It’s Lunar New Year in this part of the world and it’s a big holiday. Everything is shut down here in Busan at least for the first part of the day in celebration of the new year. At this soup kitchen was also a special effort. The meals served were great, and there were 7 served in total in recognition of the new year.

20150219_121109I attended this time, lent a hand, and went away feeling blessed as usual. With a slight re-calibration of my mind and heart that the things I stress over are generally a figment of my imagination.

And temporary.







  1. Hi Tom…thank you for your post…it truly is a blessing to serve others, during their time of need…I did volunteer work, as a photographer, in the past, for a local Rescue Mission ( that is Christian based & provides housing/meals & various resources to the needy…unfortunately, I’ve not volunteered in a few years because my health has been unpredictable; but your last sentence said it all…all trials are temporary…I just need to remember that, & even though I may be unwell health wise, the reward of giving of oneself to others is invaluable…it truly is a gift…may God bless you, abundantly for all your work…


    “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:35

    P.S. Thank you for all the great images!!! Oh, & before I forget…I’m confused because you stated that you had a translator…do you not speak Korean?

    • Dolores,

      That’s an awesome site. It’s amazing and encouraging to see those lives completely turned around. Thank God for that organization.

      I don’t speak Korean. I grew up in New Hampshire so noone to practice with. lol

      • Thank you, Tom, for taking a look at the site. I was introduced to the organization while doing volunteer work at a local Christian radio station. They sometimes featured graduates of the recovery programs. Their stories were always very touching, heartwarming & inspiring. It is God’s mercy & grace that transforms their lives through their dedication to make a change.

        You sure fooled me. I honestly thought that you spoke Korean. In your Korean greetings, your pronunciation sounds good to me. I suppose it’s kind of like my non-Spanish speaking friends assuming that I am fluent in Spanish, when truthfully, my Spanish is mostly conversational. When you don’t have anyone to practice with, it certainly makes it difficult to learn a language. That’s my excuse for not mastering my native tongue & not learning Korean. Plus, I suppose it doesn’t help that I am sooo not disciplined.

        Take wonderful care, & God bless you! 🙂

  2. Avatar world vagabond says:

    Thank you for the posting. I can feel the holiday spirit through the photos.

    King Solomon’s saying you mentioned is also in line with the core teachings of Buddhism.^^

  3. Hi, Tom! Thank you for sharing your experiences volunteering at the homeless shelter! 🙂

    I’m also seriously thinking about and preparing to go teach in Korea within this year or by no later than early next year, so your post is very encouraging for me. My parents are Korean and I am fairly well aware of Korean culture and the language. Even so, I am really nervous because for me, it really will be a new place and in many ways, a new culture. I often wonder if I’ll be able to settle in okay and if I’ll like it. I think I will, but I completely understand when you say that you thought finding a ministry to volunteer at would help keep you sane during the whole adjustment process. I am a Christian, too, and I hope to find at least one regular ministry that I could volunteer with often. Your experiences inspire me to try and step out of my comfort zones and just go volunteer! Thank you again for sharing! Hope it’s not too cold there in Busan! 🙂

    With regards,

    • Diana,

      I hope you do find the chance to make it here. Will you be teaching while you’re here?
      Depending on where you end up, you shouldn’t have an issue finding places to volunteer – all you have to do is ask around and show up.

      I’ve learned through all of this (and am still learning) that one of the things in my own life that hurt me the most was seeking comfort zones. It’s so important to break the mold from time to time to allow yourself to grow, improve, and/or heal.

      Good luck.

  4. Hi Tom,
    I also live in Busan and would like to serve with the ministry you wrote about in this post. Do they have a website? Or do you have an email address I can contact to get more information and set something up?


    • Hi, Todd,

      It’s at Busanjin Station. I believe it’s exit #8 off the orange line, but I’m not certain off hand. It’s on the main street across from the Lotteria and a Pizza Hut. It’s hard to miss.

      Essentially what you’ll do is show up and serve some trays of food and that’s it. You can have a meal as well. It’s like school food.

      That said, your value there isn’t necessarily to serve the food. It’s being there and showing your interest, both to the patrons and the ministry folks. Most don’t speak English, but they’ll be glad you’re there. You just have to jump in. Offer to help moving the food containers and things like that. Over time, they’ve asked me and other foreigners to speak. You don’t have to do that, but it’s just an example of things you can do. It doesn’t matter that they don’t understand you. Just being there is all that matters.


Share Your Thoughts


Loading Facebook Comments ...