The story is about a sad situation on 1/25/74 and how God intervened
earlier -- on 8/12/73, to address the situation.
Such a story is, of course, "private knowledge." Only my wife and I can
attest to it. If I had no other experience of the hand of God, this would
be sufficient to assure and reassure me of his existence and love.
I write the story in a "talk" format; I've given the talk to two
audiences. Obviously, it could be rewritten in a less dramatic form;
someday I may do that.
These are the notes for a talk I gave
at an Emmaus gathering 11/11/97 in Durango, Colorado.
January is a cold month in the north.
A downtown street, Seoul, Korea
Friday, January 25, 1974.
Snow -- ice -- slush -- maybe freezing rain.
An unpleasant time of year.
Two small children, ages 4 & 2, walking along that street.
The boy's right hand holding on tightly to little sister's left.
And hers to his.
It's a lousy day to be out in the cold.
It's a miserable day to be alone.
It's a rotten day to be homeless.
It's a ghastly day to be orphans,
-- in a culture where orphans are "nobodies."
1973 has been a disaster.
Sister had been badly burned.
Mother died of "the sickness" last spring.
The boy's left hand mutilated in a farm accident.
The worse of all came, however,
in the car crash,
when dad died.
The boy had seen it happen.
Their home was a rental,
their possessions few.
A neighbor took then in for awhile.
But he couldn't keep them.
Now they are walking along this dismal city street
-- to an orphanage.
They'll be looked after there, more or less,
raised to adulthood, if they live;
the mortality rate is said to be 50%.
No family to love and nurture them;
adoption is not part of the Korean culture.
Their future is this institution;
the only love they will experience
is that which they have for each other.
It's cold in the city.
Two small children trudge up the dirty steps
of an impersonal, poorly-funded, overcrowded
their lives shattered.
Hand in hand they go.
Holding ever so tight to each other.
It's a dreadful day. Nobody cares.
He had already been at work
Come back five months in time with me to Sunday, August 12, 1973.
Faced with a growing family, we had bought an unfinished house, and were
spending nearly every available hour working on it, keeping just ahead of
the city building inspector! It was a bigger job than we had imagined!
That Sunday we decided to skip our own church for one down the block
where we could "sneak in/out" easily and get back to the job early. The
kids settled in Sunday School, we walked into the only adult class.
Oh no! A retired missionary is going to lecture on a Psalm!
What have we done? Will we be able to stay awake?
I don't remember the guy's name --
Don't remember his message!
But, oh my! I do remember the Scripture passage!
God's word. It burned!
Psalm 127: (Berkeley version)
Unless the Lord builds the house,
their labor is futile who build it.
It is useless for you to be early in rising
while being late in sitting up,
eating the bread of toil;
for he gives to His loved ones sleep.
Behold, children are a legacy from the Lord;
the fruit of the womb is His reward.
As arrows in the hand of a mighty man,
so are the children of one's youth.
Blessed is the man who has his quiver full of them.
Back home, Carol went for a walk, the kids to whatever activities kids
do, on a warm Sunday afternoon when house-building chores have
mysteriously stopped. I sat at the table and pondered the message so
clearly heard. We had six children already, one adopted. Resources were
at the limit. All the practical reasons in the world to ignore this word
from the Lord.
That wasn't possible. I drafted a letter to the adoption agency, asking
them for -- specifically -- a brother/sister pair; I could "see" them as
I wrote. Carol came in -- "We need to write for a brother/sister pair,"
she said. I showed her the letter. Family council. Unanimous consent. The
letter, signed by all the family, down to the youngest, was mailed the
The Lord had a test for us.
Monday, January 21, 1974. (Note the date)
A letter from the agency; we were approved!
Praise the Lord! (Bureaucracies don't generally move that fast!).
Then, page 2.
They had no brother/sister pair to fit our family!
They were suggesting a single adoption.
But this was wrong! The Lord had told us differently!
On Wednesday, January 23rd, after considerable prayer,
we wrote back.
In essence, we said:
The Lord had promised us. He enabled.
Two days later our beloved son and daughter,
David and Mary Lee, came into the orphanage;
shortly after (in bureaucratic terms),
they arrived into our home,
as permanent family members.
God's plan. Not ours.
We just did the physical stuff.
Today, David and Mary Lee are happy, healthy, gainfully employed
U.S. citizens, living in Texas. We are looking forward to seeing them
One more thing, then I'm done.
When I was a boy in Sunday School,
there was a hymn we sang. I did not appreciate it then.
I believe it -- really believe it -- now:
When you walk with the Lord,
In the light of His word,
What a GLORY he shines on your way...
Mine eyes have seen that glory...
de Colores John Burgeson, November 1997