Friday, August 18, 2017
The Happiest Girl in Korea - the Story of Anna Song (OK Pun ie) of Korea – 18 August 2017, Anno Domini
I don't often write about things like this, but considering the times of materialism in which we live, I thought it might be fitting to remember a brave girl who found beauty and comfort in a cold harsh world.
During the late Choson era many of the Korean people lived in abject poverty, subsisting on the crops they were able to harvest each year and having little money for anything else. If they did manage to save a little money they were often quickly relieved of it through the squeezing taxes of the Yangban (nobility). Often the harvests failed and as a result, many people starved to death. Others, out of desperation, sold themselves or members of their family as slaves. It is difficult for us to understand but sometimes slavery in Korea was preferable to freedom. A slave was fed, clothed and sheltered by the slave's owner, but a free person was often left to fend for himself and sometimes starved to death during years of famine.
Ok Pun-ie was born in 1892. Her family, most likely farmers, was extremely poor, who barely eked out a living. They tried to provide for Pun-ie and her younger siblings the best that they could, but despite their best efforts; the children's lives were filled with hunger and cold. As time went by, the family's situation became more desperate until it probably climaxed in the great famine of 1901. Food was scarce and to the distraught parents it soon became obvious that unless something drastic was done, they would all perish. As was all too common in the past, the parents, in great sorrow, sold Pun-ie into slavery to a wealthy family for a quantity of food which they used to feed Pun-ie's siblings. She never saw her family again.
It is tragic to note that slavery had actually been abolished several times in the past. The last time slavery was abolished was during constitutional changes in the Korean government in the fall of 1895. According to Resolution 9, “male and female slavery, whether private or official, was to be abolished.'' However, laws are useless unless enforced, and the law that was designed to protect Puni-ie, failed her.
Pun-ie's life as a slave was not a good one. Even though she was a small girl she was forced to work long hours in the elements, fed too little and beat too often. This continued until the winter of 1905 when on one cold day her life changed. For hours she had been exposed to the cold with little clothing and her hands and feet became frostbitten, yet she was given no medical attention. Days passed into weeks and the condition of her hands and feet grew worse, the pain intensified and eventually developed into gangrene, and though she tried, she was no longer able to work.
Her owners took her to one of the foreign hospitals in Seoul and explained to her that the foreign doctor would make her ``well as soon as possible so that you can be of some use.'' The prognosis was bad, and the owners left her, no longer concerned about her fate. For eight months the young girl fought for her life, her days passed in fever induced states of delirium broken only by the horrific pain in her limbs, or after being anesthetized for surgery, sleeping in relative comfort. Remarkably Pun-ie often asked about her owners during her lucid moments but she was always told that they would not come and get her for a long time.
Pun-ie's final operation was completed in September 1906. The gangrene had been so severe the doctors had no other choice but to amputate both of her hands and one foot. Over the next months she was left to recuperate and become accustomed to her new life. Though she had only been a slave in the eyes of many, to the Western doctors and nurses of the hospital she soon became an inspiration.
During the Christmas season of 1906, Pun-ie noticed Minerva Guthapfel (a nurse) writing a letter to her friends in the United States. Pun-ie asked the nurse to please include a greeting from her: ``the happiest girl in Korea.'' Nurse Guthapfel could not believe that this poor child could possibly think of herself as ``the happiest girl in Korea,'' and asked her to explain why she felt that way.
Pun-ie gave six reasons. First, the doctors had taken away all of her pain. Second, she had not been beaten once since she had arrived at the hospital. Third, she no longer felt the pangs of intense hunger. Fourth, she was never going back to her owners but was instead to live the rest of her life in the hospital. Fifth, the small Christmas tree in the hospital was the first that she had ever seen, and she thought it was beautiful though it was nearly bare of ornaments. Finally, she had found God.
Over the next couple of years Pun-ie improved and always maintained her insistence that she was the happiest girl in Korea. Many people could not understand how she could remain so cheerful. One Korean woman even wondered why the doctors ``didn't take the knife they used to cut off her hands, and put it through her heart.'' It would have saved ``lots of trouble and lots of expense.'' They couldn't understand that Pun-ie gave something back in return _ she gave inspiration.
She became baptized and was no longer known as Pun-ie but as Anna Song. She learned to write with a pencil tied to the stumps of her hands, and though it was a laborious process, she wrote letters to the nurses that had befriended her and returned to the United States. Her story became known in the States and one woman, whose daughter had recovered from a severe illness, sent a wheelchair to Korea for Anna's use. She also served as an interpreter for the hospital and reminded others that their pains and sorrows were not as bad as they believed. There is always hope.
After 1910, the story of Anna Song faded from history (perhaps some of the religious libraries or archives in Korea might be able to add to this story) but she left us her legacy. During this holiday season I think it's important that we think about those around us and the trials they face, and not concentrate so much upon our own, because often ours pale in comparison.
Wednesday, August 16, 2017
|If you prefer, there is an easy to read and print READER version RIGHT HERE!|
have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith
(2 Tim 4:6-7)
I am serving Christ when shooting a buffalo for my men or taking an observation, even if some will consider it not sufficiently, or even at all, missionary. David Livingstone
David Livingstone was a man of unusual spiritual fortitude and Christian character. His life spanned only sixty years (1813-1873), but Dr. Livingstone packed a lot of living and service into those sixty years. His view of the people of Africa was in complete contrast to that of the colonial governments and settlers. He treated them with the respect owed an equal – and they responded warmly to him; but Livingstone had nothing but contempt for the usual attitude of westerners toward the indigenous peoples of Africa. He got along far better with African natives than he had done with his fellow Europeans.
While in Africa, he lived a life of personal deprivation and isolation. At one point in his exploration of Africa, he disappeared from all outside communications for a period of two years. The New York Herald commissioned Henry Morton Stanley to discover the whereabouts of Dr. Livingstone in 1869. After traveling more than 700 miles into the interior of the ‘Dark Continent’ Stanley met up with David Livingstone on November 10, 1871. As he approached the frail Livingstone, Stanley asked, “Dr. Livingstone, I presume?” Livingstone’s response to the inquiry – “Yes, and I feel thankful that I am here to welcome you." I learned of this exchange while in the sixth grade of Eastside Elementary School. I wonder at what level young people today learn of Dr. Livingstone. Stanley traveled with Livingstone for five months, and then returned to write his book on his experiences.
There was once an old friend of Livingstone’s who caught up with him on one of his forays into the bush country. Dr. Livingstone made his guest comfortable as a visitor for several weeks. But there was a black porter who served meals for the group whom the visitor disdained. One day, the visitor missed a personal article from his room. When the porter came into his room, the visitor scolded him with curses and coarse language. The porter ran from the cottage. When Livingstone found out about this exchange, he became livid with his guest. “You do not understand, friend! My porter was once one of the meanest and cruelest of all of my porters, and it has taken me many years to slowly teach him the Gospel which has born amazing results. But you have destroyed those many years of efforts with one outburst of cursing’s and violent language!” Livingstone was patient with the natives, but saw no need for such patience with his fellow countrymen.
Throughout his travels in Africa, it was Livingstone’s intention to open a Missionary Road, or as he called, “God’s Highway” extending 1500 miles into the interior of Africa. In the process, he mapped much of Africa, discovered Victoria Falls, the Zambezi River, and interdicted much of the slave trade, which he detested and worked, with great success, to Central Africa eradicate.
About one and a half years after the departure of Henry Stanley, Dr. David Livingstone was found dead by his bedside, kneeling in prayer, in his hut of mud and straw. Word of his death, once discovered by the outside world, spread like wildfire around the world. The heart of the gallant Livingstone was buried under a Mpunda tree in the center of the African continent. Despite fears and superstitions, the natives embalmed his body and carried it the many months to the coast where they mounted a ship and returned it to England.
Livingstone was given a hero’s funeral at Westminster Abbey on April 18, 1874, and a 21-gun salute. His porter who had been so rudely scolded by Livingstone’s guest had to be restrained from jumping into the grave when the coffin was lowered. A wreath, given by Queen Victoria, covered his casket and was buried with it. But Livingstone’s heart had been joined with the great heart of Africa where it is buried even at this day under the Mpunda tree. His epitaph reads:
Brought by faithful hands over land and sea here rests David Livingstone, missionary, traveller, philanthropist, born March 19. 1813 at Blantyre, Lancarshire, died May 1, 1873 at Chitambo's Village, Ulala. For 30 years his life was spent in an unwearied effort to evangelize the native races, to explore the undiscovered secrets, to abolish the desolating slave trade, of, where with his last words he wrote, "All I can add in my solitude, is, may Heaven's rich blessing come down on every one, American, English, or Turk, who will help to heal this open sore of the world"
Tuesday, August 15, 2017
|If you prefer, there is an easy to read and print|
READER version RIGHT HERE!
nd when the chief priests and scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying in the temple, and saying, Hosanna to the Son of David; they were sore displeased, 16 And said unto him, Hearest thou what these say? And Jesus saith unto them, Yea; have ye never read, Out of the mouth of babes and sucklings thou hast perfected praise? (Matt 21:15-16)
An old hymn that reminds us of the voice of children singing praises to our Lord in the very perfection of praise. Is it still so? The lyrics were composed by John Henley in 1841, and the music is the composition taken from Curwen’s Tune Book of 1842. The children of the lesser Temple in Jerusalem sang “Hosanna to the Son of David” but will our children sing the same in the Holy Temple of New Jerusalem? Unfortunately, the modern churches believe the only way to attract the children of the world is to imitate the worlds songs and music. It is often more worldly and sensual than it is spiritual and biblically sound.
Children of Jerusalem
Children of Jerusalem
Sang the praise of Jesus’ Name:
Children, too, of modern days
Join to sing the Savior’s praise.
Hark, hark, hark!
While infant voices sing,
Hark, hark, hark!
While infant voices sing
Loud hosannas, loud hosannas,
Loud hosannas to our King.
We are taught to love the Lord,
We are taught to read His Word;
We are taught the way to Heav’n:
Praise for all to God be giv’n.
Parents, teachers, old and young,
All unite to swell the song;
Higher and yet higher rise,
’Til hosannas fill the skies.
Children of Jerusalem Sang the praise of Jesus’ Name: Children, too, of modern days Join to sing the Savior’s praise. I hope the children of our churches today can become like unto the Children of Jerusalem in the day they sang simple praises to our Lord untainted by modern vulgarity. But I believe the hymn writer may have been overly optimistic in the future purity of the churches to teach the young people Godliness and reverence. Innocent children have a unique talent, given by the Holy Ghost, to find innocence and joy wherever it can be found. These children of Christian antiquity were overwhelmed with joy at the words and works of Christ in the Temple. God put an immediate song in their hearts as He does for all who are touched by His Word. They did not refrain from expressing their joy in song.
We are taught to love the Lord, We are taught to read His Word; We are taught the way to Heav’n Praise to all for God be giv’n In the day that this hymn was written, it was a common practice to teach them Bible stories and hymns at their mother’s knee. Even as late as my childhood, my mother taught me simple lessons of Jesus at her knee. Though there was much labor to be performed in those days, there also were fewer distractions to the moral mind. Honesty was more a common characteristic of the general population. Today, many parents haul their children off to Sunday School and Church, and leave them there at the door. But the most important teachers in the life of the child returns home and leaves all teaching to the Sunday School teacher, and the public educators who often teach error and corrupt morals. The practice of Old Time Religion was to teach the child to love the Lord; to read His Word; to live morally sound lives; and to praise God for every blessing. Honestly, how many children in our culture are so taught in our day?
Parents, teachers, old and young, All unite to swell the song; Higher and yet higher rise, ‘Til hosannas fill the skies. Hosanna means “Save us, Lord” in its ancient origin, but came to mean a prayer of praise to God. It has the connotation of the Latin, EXCELSIOR, meaning ever upward, and is the motto of the State of New York. Of course, the Narrow Way described by our Lord leads ever upward as Hosanna suggests. Do parents, teachers, old and young, join their voices to swell the heavens with Hosannas? Shouldn’t we? If we do not do so, does this not point to a Laodicean characteristic in the modern church? If we are disturbed by this fact, we needn’t be since we have it in our power to belatedly join our voices in Hosannas to the Son of David!
Hark, hark, hark! While infant voices sing, Hark, hark, hark! While infant voices sing Loud hosannas, loud hosannas, Loud hosannas to our King. In the imperative sense, HARK means to ‘listen’ with intense focus of thought. Often, we consider that children should be seen and not heard; however, children can teach us great lessons. Perhaps we should HEAR the children. The innocence of the infant should be nurtured by good and Holy teaching, example in living, and service to God. If the parents fail in that enterprise, what shall the children do?
In the coarser years of a man life, after traveling a road of sin and wickedness for many years, it is not impossible for him to regain that innocence of childhood in the call of the Holy Ghost to his heart. Such coarse men may show the sweetest and most endearing livelihood once they have answered that call. John Newton (Amazing Grace) is a perfect example of that change. 3 Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven. 4 Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven. 5 And whoso shall receive one such little child in my name receiveth me. 6 But whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he were drowned in the depth of the sea. (Matt 18:3-6)