<Art activity done with the people at Gabriel's House>
Every year, *THEIA Missions, a student club in Asia Pacific International School (APIS), organizes various fundraising activities to provide donations to the Philippines and embarks on a one-week missionary trip to the country. With help from a Korean missionary residing in the Philippines and a school instructor, the students themselves plan a week's worth of various lessons, activities and skits to share with the local people during the trip.
However, this year’s trip was cancelled due to a concern over the safety of the members. Many members, including myself, who has long waited and planned the trip, were disappointed. As Lynn Kim, senior vice president of THEIA Missions, expressed, “It was very unexpected and I couldn't do anything else but to wonder why God would put me and my members to this incomprehensible situation.”
Fundraising continued, but that wasn’t enough to fill the emptiness in the members’ hearts. Then came the idea, ‘what if we serve other people in need here in Korea?’
Consequently, during the week that we were originally planned to stay in the Philippines, members divided into two groups and each group went to a designated place for service learning. I decided to help out in Gabriel's House - a place that provides basic life training and special education for disabled people.
As any individual would say after a service trip, I realized how gifted I am with a plethora of privileges that some people can only imagine to have. Yet, it wasn’t just merely the emotion of feeling sympathy for those who lack privileges that I was thankful to have. Rather, I felt a bit guilty and embarrassed after meeting the teachers who devoted all their time and effort to serve others.
The teachers in Gabriel’s House, upon achieving a 4-year degree in education, come to Gabriel's’ House and go through strenuous labor on a daily basis simply to serve under the name of God. Because the place only takes care of people who are ineligible to receive support from the government, Gabriel’s House solely depends on private funds to meet needs. Luckily, such funds allowed the place to be up and running for two decades. On the other hand, people nowadays are reluctant to donate money due to fear that it will be used for purposes other than helping people; thus, teachers seldom get paid for all the hard work they put into serving others. The head of Gabriel’s House wants to change this – she wants to make sure the place receives enough financial support to pay the teachers at least to a minimal degree.
I understand that donating money to any group, even if the organization claims to help those in need, is challenging in today’s society. Yet, I also have the confidence to state that Gabriel’s House is a place one can donate money without a bit of concern and skepticism.
*THEIA means divine in Greek.
Byoung Joon Bae
Asia Pacific International School
Byoung Joon Bae firstname.lastname@example.org
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