How can South Korea be so rich as a nation yet have so many who are poor, especially the elderly? Nearly 50% of South Korea’s elderly live in poverty. Centuries-old traditions of children looking after parents delayed the emergence of Medicare and Social Security options. Non-profits and churches often fill the gap between family and government to provide a helping hand for the poorest of the poor.
“And all of you must put on the apron of humility, to serve one another; for the scripture says, “God resists the proud, but shows favor to the humble.” Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time.” — 1 Peter 5:5-6 (Good News Bible)
Wearing an apron is a practical symbol of service. Jesus wrapped a towel around him similar to an apron to wash the disciples’ feet. If you want to truly be humble, put on an apron and serve.
I learned something about aprons and service, volunteering for DAIL Community near Seoul. During the orientation we were given a bright orange apron by the founder, Rev. Choi. Full of energy and enthusiasm, Choi is known as the “Babfor” Pastor which means “pastor who scoops rice.”
We soon had our own “scoop rice” experience as hundreds of hungry people gathered, to receive a meal. Quickly, we took our stations and went to work. Every fifteen minutes, we shifted to another task. filling the tray with rice or soup, seating people, bringing food, cleaning tables or washing dishes. The work was tedious but gratifying. Very few knew English, but it didn’t stop them from smiling and bowing to express appreciation. This experience of serving others at DAIL was a highlight of my trip.
Serving others can seem tedious and frustrating but the joy of helping others, more than compensates. The spirit of DAIL Community motto is “to practice God’s commandment to love each other, spread the Good News to others and to live our lives like Jesus stretching out our hands to our abandoned neighbors thus creating a more beautiful world. It starts with anything; it starts with me; it starts now.”
“It starts with anything; it starts with me; it starts now.”
DAIL started with Rev. Choi serving soup and noodles to one person on the street who was hungry. Now the Community feeds thousands of people daily and offers free medical services at 17 branches in 10 countries throughout Asia. The Korean word “DA-IL” means “pursuit of unity within diversity.” A diverse group of people working towards unity in the name of Jesus by leading a spiritual life and being in service to others. The Apron has become a symbol of their love and service.
At one point the DAIL Community was in deep financial distress. Food supplies were critically low while the number of people standing in line to receive the meals grew substantially. Pastor Choi calculated and purchased enough Ramen Noodles to last a month or more but within two weeks the noodles would be gone and there were no funds to purchase more. Without the noodles, Pastor Choi would no longer be able to serve the poor and the DAIL Community would collapse.
That day, a large delivery truck pulled up in front of the center. The driver informed Pastor Choi that the company producing the noodles had experienced a recall that made it impossible for their company to sell an entire production run of noodles. They had no choice but to discard literally tons of their noodles. The truck driver was told to deliver the entire quantity of recalled noodles to DAIL.
“God resists the proud but shows favor to the humble.” – 1 Peter 5:6
So, grab an apron and remember the words and lessons of Rev. Choi and the DAIL Community: “It starts with anything; it starts with me; it starts now.”