The other side of failure

"The other side of failure" Continued...

Issue: "2013 Daniel of the Year," Dec. 14, 2013

The younger refugees, particularly, lack mentors to guide them through the drastically different South Korean culture, no parent to admonish them when they make mistakes. Many of these youngsters, disillusioned by South Korean society and unfettered by parental authority, slip back into the same rambunctious, streetwise lifestyle they once led in North Korea and China. 

They frequently asked Shin, “We experienced so many miracles in China. So why aren’t there any here in South Korea?” Shin said it’s because they lost their sincere desperation for God. They may still lack peace and stability in their hearts, but all their basic needs are met. They no longer have to worry about being deported or fight over food. They stopped praying.

BEFORE THE MISSIONARIES traveled with the last nine orphans to Laos, they offered a different prayer to God: “Lord, You know what happened to Your children. When they got too comfortable with their lifestyle, they lost their faith and forgot You. Please, don’t let these kids become that way this time round. ... If You really have a purpose for them, allow some challenges in their life.”

But the couple admitted that after the nine orphans’ deportation, they couldn’t accept that incident as an answer to that prayer. They wept, wailed at God, and pounded their chests in anguish. Why, when God had performed so many miraculous accomplishments, would He allow such devastating “failure”? 

For months, they read the Scriptures, prayed, and finally listened, Jang said. Now, he says he believes “God delivered them to North Korea as martyrs and missionaries … and when God has called them for that purpose, who am I to say no? Who am I to cry, ‘No, not my children! You can’t use my children!’ So I’ve come to accept God’s heart.” 

Shin said the nine youngsters’ faith is stronger than the other refugees she’s rescued. This fact gave the couple assurance that the orphans are “Josephs who can implant the foundation of a gospel in a spiritually barren land.” 

“Living comfortably in South Korea is a blessing. But the biggest blessing is being able to maintain your faith and fulfill God’s purpose in your life,” said Jang. “These kids may be in North Korea. I know they will suffer there. My human heart is tearing apart at that thought. But I also believe that God has a huge award ready for them.” 

SO THE COUPLE reshaped their prayer: “We pray that [the children] never forget that they are no longer slaves to sin. That even when imprisoned in darkness, the word of life that’s been seeded inside their hearts will help them overcome all hardships and fears. … We hope that one day, when we reunite, they can share many testimonies of how they guarded their faith.”

Through a secular viewpoint, the orphans’ sufferings seem senseless and devastating, and questions arise: Did the missionaries make a mistake? What went wrong? But a Bible-believing Christian can gain peace and comfort in the faith that the Christ who has risen makes no failure. 

Sophia Lee
Sophia Lee

Sophia is a features reporter for WORLD Magazine. She graduated from the University of Southern California with degrees in print journalism and East Asian language and culture. She lives in Los Angeles with her cat, Shalom. Follow Sophia on Twitter @SophiaLeeHyun.


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