At the end of our summer retreat for the children in our network, a young man 17 years of age sat weeping in the back of a van headed back to his orphanage.
"Sung" would always volunteer to help out with whatever the counselors needed help with. He always eagerly rallied the rest of the kids and gently scolded them when they fell out of line. He organized the younger kids in skits and other activities.
Sung is an excellent student and, unlike many of the other kids in our network, will be going to an academic college to further his studies. He stands about 6 feet tall, almost a head above the rest of the children. His posture is always impeccable.
But behind his kind and capable exterior is a world of pain. Unlike so many of the orphans in our network, Sung knew his mother well. She was a North Korean refugee who was sold to his father in 1999. She is often described by Sung and those who knew her as smart and loving. When he was in grade school, she was diagnosed with liver cancer and died shortly thereafter. He has a lot of good memories of his mother.
After his mother died, things went downhill for Sung and his father. Things got so bad that his father had to send him to an orphanage. That's how we met him.
Though his life and academics turned around, Sung never fully recovered emotionally from the trauma of losing his mother. We do not know exactly why he was crying as he was leaving the retreat for the last time. But we think it was because he felt loved by the counselors and staff who took the time to visit him every year.
Though we cannot quantify this statistically or measure it in some formula, we know that children like Sung deserve the best love we can give. We pride ourselves on our ability to prepare our orphans for adulthood but we know that this means nothing if they don’t feel loved. This is our job, to prepare them and love them. We will do this for as long as God allows.