206. The Story of Choon-Mi: a Remarkable 35-day Tale of Despair, Recovery, and Hope
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  Name : durihana Date : 2017-06-08 오후 3:04:43
On Friday, April 21st, instead of attending Friday night worship, Choon-Mi, who is known to be extremely introverted, went back home to talk with her mom. After an exhausting day at work and returning home at 1 a. m ., Choon-Mi’s mom asked Choon-Mi to wait until the next morning to chat. Haunted by loneliness, Choon-Mi disappeared at 1:12 a. m., leaving only a text message saying “May we see each other again in heaven.”

At 1:30 a.m., Choon-Mi’s mother, woken by a sense of foreboding, strolled out to the living room to discover Choon-Mi’s cell phone in front of 9th floor balcony window. At 10 a.m., after a long and anxious wait, she was heartbroken by tragic news that Choon-Mi had entered surgery at the Korea University hospital.

Like most North Korean parents who are defectors, Choon-Mi’s mom had suffered from starvation and the lack of basic freedoms in North Korea. She was traumatized by both her escape from North Korea and stay in China, where she was subject to from human trafficking and forced marriage. Fear of domestic abuse and arrest by the secret police to be sent back to North Korea left permanent scars in her heart.

Because her time in China was painted with anxiety and horror, she arrived in South Korea filled with hopeful dreams, even though she had neither any relations or resources to rely on. To sustain themselves had too many circumstantial, cultural, and economic problems. She even suffered from severe stress and homesickness. Yet, she prevailed.

Such difficult reality is the life of North Korean refugees. At “Durihana” students live in a community where they are not with their parents but with their host moms and host dads. They share their life with their peers while they study and live together in the community, dissolving their pain.

In school, students of North Korean heritage are often bullied because of differences in their culture and language. At home, they are emotionally hurt and prone to stress because of frequent conflicts between their mother and adoptive father. The burden they carry in too heavy, and the barriers they must overcome are too high for their young souls.

Choon-Mi’s mom had been waiting in front of the surgery room since Ten o’clock that morning; the doctor came out at 5:40 p. m. after finishing the seven-hour surgery. The doctor said, “The surgery went on longer tan expected because we were trying to straighten out each and every spine that was broken so that Choon-Mi can sleep lying down straight. We tried our best, but Choon-Mi’s spinal cords were totally disconnected and she will have to live the rest of her life lying on the bed. She has been paralyzed below the waist.” At this, Choon-Mi’s mom collapsed into a bellowing cry, and we embraced her and tried to comfort her by saying that “Even if it is not possible through man, God will heal Choon-Mi if we pray.” She still could not stop crying because the pain was breaking her heart.

Eight hours later, Choon-Mi barely opened her eyes when I called her name. She replied, “It hurts very much.” I uttered, “Why did you do it? I thought you were a good kid. Why did you do it?” Choon-Mi asked, “Was I really a good kid?” “Of course. You are a compassionate and diligent child. You were supposed to study abroad in America soon,” I answered. Choon-Mi seemed to want to say all that she could not before. She went on to say, “Was I really a good kid? I don’t know. I thought all my friends hated me.” She even told her mom “Mom, don’t cry. I will be better. Please cheer up!” lifting up her arm holding her fist high. She then chattered on as if she were not aware that she was a severe patient.

After the short meeting, we were told that we would not be able to visit her room for a week because her condition was so severe. Even darker was the fact that a 15year-old girl had to live the rest of her life disabled, paralyzed below the waist.

Early morning on Sunday, I knelt on the bed and prayed. She had suffered life in North Korea through no choice of her own, and risked everything to begin a new life of freedom at a tender age of sixteen, only to live the rest of her life on a bed, disabled. It was all too unfair, but only for a moment-I remembered that our God was kind and just, and took faith in that he will not ignore Choon-Mi’s suffering. Therefore, I continued to share her story and ask for prayers around the world. Hoping for a miracle, all of us at Durihana also prayed for Choon-Mi’s recovery from the moment we woke up to the last minute before we fell asleep.

Our collective prayers had an immediate response. In just three days, she was transferred from the intensive care unit to the normal hospital ward. Choon-Mi was still in critical condition-she had mental trauma, amnesia, and loss of sensation below the waist; her feet were ice-cold. Despite her pain, she greeted us every time with a smile and never lost her faith in God’s ability to heal when she prayed with us.

The miracle began nine days after the accident when her memory returned, and made a remarkable confession: “Pastor, I can remember Hebrews 11:6- ‘And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.’ So, I believe God will heal my legs.”

A month ago during worship, we had offered a 50,000 won (~$50 USD) reward to the student who could learn Hebrews 11:6 the quickest both in English and in Korean, and Choon-Mi was the first to confidently raise her hand a mere week after the challenge was issued. She claimed that the verse came back to memory and that night she had met Jesus in her dreams, and that Jesus was very much real and praying for her.

The story was so incredible that I asked, “Where did you see Jesus?” “I met him in the desert. There were many people praying there.” “Really? They must have been all praying for you.” “No, there weren’t many people praying for me. But, Jesus was right next to me and praying for me very sincerely.” “Ah, I see. What did Jesus look like?” “He was wearing a hat.” I laughed, “Jesus? Wearing a hat? Was it a baseball hat?” “No,” she replied, “the hat was yellow and sparkling.” I had chills as soon as she described him. Choon-Mi only began her religious life at Durihana so she had never seen Jesus’ likeness in paintings or on the Internet-how did she see him as he appears in Revelation 14:14?

Choon-Mi’s illustration of Jesus praying next to her

The doctor who said “She will have to live the rest of her life lying in bed with her body paralyzed below waist” came back in eleven days, bewildered because her right ankle was twitching. In thirteen days, she moved around using the wheel chair, and in just fifteen days she walked by herself a little to the doctor’s great surprise. While they were discussing when to check out from the hospital, the doctor became skeptical of his own diagnosis, saying, “Maybe the spinal cord wasn’t severed?” We were again reminded that Jesus heals those who pray and have faith; as the Bible says, “All things are possible for the one who believes”(Mark 9:23). For those who do not believe that God is the author of life, such a miracle would be unfathomable.

The greatest miracle, however, was that Choon-Mi was born again in Spirit and became a new creation. As the Bible verse and Durihana school’s motto says, “For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in the place of two, so making peace”(Ephesians 2:14-15). God said, “create one new man.” Here the new man is “Kairos Anthropos.” The word “Kairos” does not indicate a change in physical substance or amount. It means a qualitative and fundamental regeneration. It is not simply the change from yesterday to today due to the lapse of time. It is the newness in a fundamental or a existential level where a person is born again. Nothing on earth can become anew without the miracle of heaven.

The miracle was not that Choon-Mi could rise and walk again after the accident. Choon-Mi, who was filled with grievances, who could not put any smile on her face and who did not get along with her friends, thereby building a wall between her and the world, left Durihana prior to the Friday night worship on April 21st but came back to the Friday night worship in just 35 days on May 26th after gaining an understanding by the Word. The miracle we gladly witnessed is that Choon-Mi has been transformed into a new person testifying, “I am not the same grumpy Choon-Mi who did not talk to anyone. I have decided to live happily, always smiling and loving my neighbor like Jesus did. I am now a new person.”

We give thanks to all of God’s people and their love and service. We give special thanks to those who were concerned about Choon-Mi and supported her through prayers and gifts. The prayer, that we prayed to experience power and grace of Jehovah Rapha who heals our bodies, as written in Exodus 15:26, and to testify that our God is alive, has been answered with Choon-Mi being discharged from the hospital with good health in just 35 days. Choon-Mi will live to help the poor, serve others in love, and reach for even greater dreams.

The Durihana community sincerely welcomes Choon-Mi’s return and sends her our love.