In the Cerritos School there’s a personal library of Christian resources that was left behind by another missionary family. All the books are stamped with, “Library of Isaac Hwang”. I’m very thankful they’re here. On Saturday mornings, the pastoral team uses that room to have meetings. Usually, my eyes are roving all the titles and looking for what to read next.
Today I’m just a few pages away from finishing a book called, “On Being a Missionary” by Thomas Hale. (I like how straightforward the title is). That book has been a gracious provision from God. I didn’t read it all at once. I read little by little for the last few months. As a result, the topics tended to coincide comically with the stages I was going through, like the chapters on stress, depression, interpersonal conflicts, etc. I laughed a lot while reading that book because of the humorous perspective of the author, but also because I’m such a typical case study. What I was going through mentally and emotionally was so normal- it was a great encouragement.
Although we’re here teaching others, we’ve been gaining such valuable training; directly through God from the Bible, through experiences, and through training sessions which they generally call, “Capacitacion”.
The Sunday School Director highly recommended us to go to a seminar on how to teach Sunday School. It was held at a presbyterian seminary this past Saturday. We arrived at eight in the morning and there were a bunch of Korean pastors! Maybe I shouldn’t have been surprised 🙂 They were visiting from Korea and the next 7 hours were translated by two Korean-South Americans. I actually understood better in Spanish- my Spanish has officially surpassed my Korean language skills.
The seminar was actually addressed to seminary students. The first pastor opened his talk with an impacting guilt trip. He asked by raise of hands, how many times we had read the Bible. (I have never read the entire Bible once.) He asked, how can we teach others if we don’t know anything? But most importantly, he talked about the absolute necessity to pray for spiritual eyes to read the Bible.
Everybody received a free Spanish Sunday school book that was produced by the Korean Sunday School Association. He demonstrated how to teach Bible stories creatively using our own visuals. The visuals he showed were all made by teachers in his church. Here are a few pictures.
As he was showing them, the Marangatu people in my pew exchanged excited glances and nudges. The Sunday School director said something like, “I’m going to put you in charge of making these.” Currently, here are some of the materials they are using right now. They’re effective, but maybe a little outdated.
The third speaker, was an elder. Briefly, this is how he came to believe in God. The first twenty years of his life he had lung problems. He had never believed God existed. Then he ended up in the emergency room for his breathing problems. He needed to remove a lung. But his other lung needed to function at least 60%. So he prayed to a God he didn’t know. Two weeks later his second diagnostic revealed his lung was functioning at 62%. He said that for a believer this would seem possible. But for someone who had never seen answered prayer, this was amazing.
But the other major obstacle was the steep cost of surgery. Economically, the country was recovering from the Korean War; Everyone was poor. He wrote a 7 page letter to the Korean president asking for help. He even offered the doctor to take out one of his good eyes to pay for the surgery. He was desperate and could only ask God again. God provided through the American soldiers stationed in Korea. They made a donation to the hospital to allow 40 patients to receive surgery. However, he was not on that list. So he prayed again and he was somehow moved to second place on the list.
Afterwards, he determined to thank God for whatever God gave. God also showed him that he shouldn’t love material things of the world. Third, was that God gives the grace to have true faith. Before he received that grace, he had what he called a “sickness of faith.” He was in the church but, for example, he had no joy when he sang hymns. On the contrary, he would grumble that they needed 5 stanzas just to say the same thing. Even as a deacon he would listen to the pastors’ sermons and criticize them in his heart.
After he received the grace of faith, he was a new person. When he read the Bible, he once literally had the taste of honey. He must be in his sixties but he has been living all this time with one lung. He ended by saying that in life we will lose valuable things. He lost a lung, and a rib in the surgery. But in exchange, he gained Christ.
I learned so much in that seminar. And I also gained a fire in my heart to work on producing new Sunday school materials. A few years ago, I went to Mexico with wlakc to help present the Bible to children. Shin put me in charge of making crafts based on Bible stories like Noah’s Ark, Jonah, and Abraham. I came up with a craft idea, drew characters, made them fun and easy to cut and assemble. It was so enjoyable I said to Shin afterwards, “I would love to make VBS materials for a living.” I forgot about that until now.
Thankfully, I’ve developed a lot since then. Maybe this is God giving me an opportunity. If so, it’ll be a blessed endeavor. My prayer request for this project is that God’s hand would be on it from beginning to end.