A week ago today, I traversed the streets of Seoul, South Korea, on a shopping expedition with my youngest daughter Courtney. We conversed with street vendors and warehouse merchants on the exact opposite side of the world from our home in Ohio.
Our lives intersected ever so briefly with people who spend their days in a world totally different than our Americana existence. In the shoulder-rubbing-shoulder chaos of that Asian metropolis, we jostled and bumped against hundreds of people on the streets. Or passed by, quite literally, thousands of fellow travelers as we risked life and limb in our numerous taxi rides. For those short moments, we shared life with these strangers.
In the Lord's providence, there have been a few occasions when similar chance encounters developed into lifelong friendships. Pastor Hong, Song-ho is one of those Providential friends. Shortly after we moved to Korea as missionaries in 1989, while in the overwhelming days of language study, my husband prayed for a friend--just one friend in all of Korea who might relieve some of his deep loneliness.
On a whim, after language school one day, we decided to take our family for a hike up the mountain of Keadeyansan outside of the city of Taejon, where we lived. Courtney was just three years old at that time, and her little legs gave out before we'd hiked past the souvenir stands at the base of the trail, so Daddy David hoisted her onto his shoulders.
As we made our way up the mountain, a Korean man approached David and exclaimed in English, "You look like Jesus!" My husband must have looked puzzled, as the man went on to explain, "Jesus is the Great Shepherd and you look like you're carrying a little lamb."
That brief encounter led to an abiding friendship between my husband and the man whom we soon learned was a pastor of a Methodist congregation. Pastor Hong taught David the idiosyncracies of Korean CHURCH language as no one else could (or took the time to try.) It was in Pastor Hong's church that David preached his first sermon in Korean. And the two have shared the ups and downs of life--on both side of the world--ever since.
We were able to share several days of adventure with Pastor Hong during our Korea trip, and he and David picked up their friendship as though they'd never been separated by fifteen years of time and a distance of thousands of miles.(Pastor Hong and David--proving true friends are friends forever!)
As authors, our lives intersect with thousands of readers through the printed page. We may never realize the individuals whose life-paths have crossed our own. There are those special times, however, when God choses to connect our lives with another through a Providential Encounter, which transcends mere happenstance.
Last week, we discussed those nasty negative comments that come our way as authors. Today, I'd like to hear about those special encounters with your readers that spur you on and keep you writing. As I sign off for this week (and continue to recover from jet lag!) let me share a few other photos that capture our reconnections with Korea friends. . .
(Reconnecting with our Korean language teacher and life-long friend, Mrs. Ei, Kyung-Lim)
(Courtney's Foster Mother, Mrs. Ahn, Kee-Young)
(This gentleman owns the small store located next to our Seoul apartment. He still remembers our family well--especially Courtney!)
(A "chance" encounter with elderly rice-farming Korean villagers in the deep countryside near the South China Sea.)
(David preaches in three worship services while good friend, Rev. Shin, Min-Gyu, translates)