My Pastor’s Story of the Orphanage

Soo Yeong - Ames, Iowa
Entered on January 5, 2009
Age Group: 18 - 30

“I visited an orphanage when I traveled to Korea several years ago,” my Pastor said. Sunday sermons didn’t usually grab my attention. My Pastor has a rather soft-spoken voice with no highs and lows in his sermons. For some reason, this time, his words made me listen.

“Some children at the orphanage were as old as my son,” my Pastor continued, pointing to his twelve-year-old son. “Some were just born—infants growing up without parental love. No matter their ages, they all had the same look in their eyes. Instead of the twinkling pairs of eyes that indicated innocence, curiosity, and excitement, I saw in the orphaned children pairs of already matured eyes. You see, because of the hardship they had been put through, they were already emotionally adults. They skipped a part of their life, their childhood.

“They didn’t like to make eye contact at first. There was one little girl in particular. She cast her eyes down on the ground when she first met me. But I talked with her. I looked at her in the eyes. I showed my interest in all the things she had to tell me. Very soon, she met my gaze. She looked up at me and wouldn’t look anywhere else. In her eyes, that twinkle of childhood came back. She sat on my lap and just talked and talked.

“When I finally had to leave, I said good-bye to her. Disappointment filled her eyes. She clung to me and gave me a big hug that I can still remember. Then she called me softly, ‘Daddy.’ ‘Daddy,’ she said—over and over.”

Tears trickled down my cheeks. My Pastor’s story of the orphanage had ended, and he moved onto quote some passages in the Bible and connect them to the topic of the sermon, God’s Love. In my head, however, the scene of the little girl remained. I played it like a movie clip—rewinding and playing again and again. All that those orphaned children wanted was someone to look them in the eyes and listen to their stories. A story of the time they found a four-leaf clover in the backyard. A story of the time they had chickenpox and got scolded for scratching. A story of the time they wrote a letter to Santa, wishing not for a Transformers toy or a Barbie doll but for a loving family this Christmas.

Right then, I realized that I had the power to spread God’s love merely by using my eyes. I realized that a look from me can brighten a child’s day. Surely, God’s love is greater than any other form of love, but I now know that mine might come close.

I now believe in the power of a look. I believe in the power of an interested look, a loving gaze that says, “Yes, I am here for you. Yes, your very existence matters to me. Yes, you have every right to be loved.”