[Interview]Pastor seeks re-migrant center for needy: Non-existence of gov't agency is “nonsense”
[Interview]Pastor seeks re-migrant center for needy: Non-existence of gov't agency is “nonsense”
  • Kyoum Hur
  • 승인 2015.04.03 15:36
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▲ Pastor Kwon Tae-il poses for a photograph at Sa-rang-bat church in Incheon.(Photo by Kyoum Hur)
  “It is nonsense that there are no free remigrant organizations funded by the government despite the existence of over seven million Korean compatriots throughout the world.”

  “There are so many overseas Koreans whose illnesses are not taken care of. Everyday they are struggling with severe poverty and hunger,” Pastor Kwon Tae-il said in an interview with The Overseas Koreans Newspaper at “Sa-rang-bat” church in Bupyeong-gu, Incheon.

  The number of overseas Koreans has exceeded seven-point-two million for the first time last October. Korean nationals abroad are playing a critical role as a bridge between Korea and the nations where they reside and work.

  While ethnic Koreans' role is being expanded on the global stage, Some, however, have been placed in a dead zone in terms of the standard for minimum living cost. It is estimated that over 100,000 Korean nationals get in trouble all over the world.

  Illegal and undocumented immigrants among them are banned from the public health care unless they paid into a private health insurance. Not to mention the fact they don‘t have private health cover, they wouldn’t dream of going back to hometown due to lack of money.

  Pastor Kwon was stirred by the news that such people were abandoned by community and also shocked that some of them sleep on the streets, inside underpasses with newspaper.

  “Homelessness is one of the greatest challenges facing overseas Korean community,” he said, noting that Some often starve and freeze to death in a foreign country where they once dreamed of becoming successful life.

  Rev. Kwon, the founder of the twenty-nine-year-old Sa-rang-bat Community, has dedicated himself to saving the lives of alienated overseas Koreans. His motive for befriending them was “God”'s will. He has been striving for sharing God's love with people in the worst part of overseas Korean community.

  His fate was overturned in 1989, when Kwon met a homeless woman, whose face had been severely disfigured by fire after she with epilepsy suddenly fell her face down to the furnace.

  She was unfortunately deserted by her husband and made desperate efforts to find a job in order to survive but to no avail. she was forced to rely on begging an overpass near Chungmuro.

  Kwon, then a sales person, came to take the woman and her two children to his house for newlyweds. This experience led him to continue to bring homeless to home in spite of his extremely meager income.

  “It seemed like I was addicted to charity work,” he recalled. He built a community shelter near his house and continued to focuse his evangelical activities on community services such as aid activities for the poor and disabled.

  However, it did not take long for the pastor to realize that he had too little money to treat the homeless in a cramped home, and he started to collect donations to operate the shelter for the needy.

  When the family members kept getting bigger, he finally decided to quit his sales job and began concentrating on the Sa-rang-bat Community in Bupyeong-gu slum area.

  Sa-rang-bat church has recently transplanted their sharing community to the poorest neighborhood in Beijing, China, where Korean alcohol or drug addicts living. It is the first time Protestant Christianity has initiated such a systematic effort in its entire history.

  Through donations received mostly from domestic individuals and groups, Sa-rang-bat shelter has sent nearly 40 Korean nationals living in metro Beijing back to Seoul while at the same time cooperating with World share. 

From their modest shelter, they are not only feeding the deserted, but they are also providing them flight tickets. All of these services are free of charge.

  The pastor of the “Sa-rang-bat,” which literally means “(unwatered) farm filled with love,” will intensify collaboration in all divisions of domestic and overseas Korean communities.

  Meanwhile, Rescue service for overseas Koreans was officially launched on April 3 at Sa-rang-bat community hall in Bupyeong.

▲ Pastor Kwon delivers a speech at the founding ceremony in Bupyeong on April 3.(Photo by Kim Young-ki)
  The service will be jointly led by Rev. Kwon Tae-il and Kim Seong-hak, vice president of the Koean society of Beijing, who is now a deacon at the church in China.

  Also attending the founding ceremony were former lawmaker Yoo Jay-kun, and about 100 members. All participants expressed complete support for the rescue plan to help the needy.

  At the ceremony, Pastor Kwon, the key operator of the newly-formed rescue service, said that they will further establish its affiliated shelters extensively around the world, including the United States, Asia, Africa, Australia, Europe, the Middle East and the South America. 

  “We tend to focus on the mega success stories outside Korea. On the contrary, a large number of the poorest residents are struggling with their reality without any local friends or relatives. I am hoping to people sharing their love for the needy especially in this time of the global economic downturn.” 

  For more information on Pastor Kwon and “Sa-rang-bat” Church, please call 032-502-7770, Rescue service for overseas Koreans, call 02-2612-4400. 

  By Kyoum Hur    khur@dongponews.net