How Beautiful...

As I begin to write this, Pastor Steve is conked out on the settee in the downstairs private dining room of Viccollo restaurant which doubles as our Discipleship class meeting place. He has already taught a Bible class this morning at Yeomyung school. 


This is a school begun by a pastor to educate North Korean refugees. I read some articles about the school (National Public Radio did a piece on the school in 2010 - http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=130330223) and learned a little about the hardships the students have faced in the North and the challenges they are facing in the South. Pastor Steve's class is attended by students with English language skills enough to be taught in English. We were escorted to the art classroom where there is a long table with enough chairs for her and all the students. The girls were quiet and the guys more outspoken. It was the first class after the summer vacation, so Pastor Steve asked them what they remembered from their previous studies together. He has been teaching from Genesis about who God is and how He created all that is. Today's topic was "the most important thing God created." One of the bolder boys said that it was him, that he was the most important creation of God. I had to smile at his bravado. He was very close to the answer Pastor Steve was looking for. 

The review revealed that the students remembered a lot of what they had been taught, even after over two months. One student called out "trinity" and another "God is Spirit." Pastor Steve nodded and reviewed what they'd learned about God and then moved on to the days of Creation. One guy was very pleased that he remembered so much with accuracy. He beamed and laughed at his perfect recall. Pastor Steve asked students to name things in English that God created - plants and animals - and then demonstrated how to make the sound of an elephant, which  made everyone laugh. The atmosphere in the classroom was warm and nervously cheerful, as the students reacclimated to their Bible teacher, tested out their memories, and dared to use their fledgling Engkish skills. I sensed a desire to learn and yet a hesitance to believe everything they were being told. God made man? In God's image? We are not like animals? Our souls are like God's soul? We are made from the dust - the elements - of the earth, and this was known thousands of years before scientists discovered the elements? God breathed the spirit of life into man? There was a little skepticism in the air, but when the words, "Your soul is more precious, more valuable than all the wealth of all the cities of the world," we're spoken, it seemed as though a few moments of stillness filled the room as we all pondered this. "My soul is more valuable than the combined wealth of the entire world?" 

When Pastor Steve followed this with the thinking of the world, I held my breath as he told us that the world looks upon war, disease, starvation, disasters, as good things that decrease surplus population, that human life is not so precious in the eyes of the world at times and that this thinking is evil. What were these students thinking having left a country that does not place much if any value on individual human lives? When asked how this knowing that God views their souls as precious made them feel, a young man responded, "I am thankful." Oh, to be so thankful! I found myself wishing I could have understood all the things the students had spoken among themselves in Korean. My heart goes out to young people. It is the teacher in me, I suppose. 

Pastor Steve has awakened and it is time to begin our weekly Discipleship class. The room is filling up and I see some new faces in our midst. God, bless our class, our gracious host, Paul, Your Word, and those young people who heard of their value in God's heart for the first time. Amen. 

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