| ASIAN BEACON에 |
“I Was Once a Sponsored Child, But Now I Am a Sponsor!”
란 제목으로 오성삼 (전)회장에 대한 소개가 되었습니다.
이에 회원 여러분에게 소개 드리고자 합니다.
Audio Version: “I Was Once a Sponsored Child, But Now I Am a Sponsor!”
Note: This article was written from a sharing by Mr. Oh Sung-Sam during World Vision’s 70th Anniversary Celebration in Malaysia.
As a child during the Korean War, Oh Sung-Sam lost his father, causing his family to plunge into poverty. But that didn’t stop him from hoping for a better life. Sung-Sam shared about his incredible life journey, how World Vision helped him, and his promise to pay it forward as we celebrated World Vision’s 70th Anniversary in January this year.
After the Korean War in the 1950s, countless orphans and widows struggled to survive. Hungry children scavenged for food; mothers worked 15-hour days in factories or peddled wares on the streets to make ends meet.
Sung-Sam was one of the many children affected by the War. His father tragically drowned trying to save a child. His mother sewed clothes in a factory, but she didn’t earn enough to support Sung-Sam and his two younger brothers. When he was nine, he went to live in an orphanage to ease his family’s burden.
Sung-Sam, now 73, vividly recalls his childhood: “I was a naughty and mischievous child. When my classmates were out, I used to steal their lunches and eat them.”
When Sung-Sam was ten, he was sponsored by the Gustafson family from the United States through World Vision’s Child Sponsorship Programme. The support he received would help him through many difficult moments.
A Young Life Fraught With Setbacks
At 15, Sung-Sam started thinking about his future. “I didn’t want to spend the rest of my life working in a factory, earning barely enough money to keep food in my belly.”
“I decided to study hard because I knew it was the only way I could really survive without wealth or connections.” He attended Kon Kuk University in Seoul with a scholarship jointly funded by the University and World Vision, but the scholarship did not cover food and lodging.
Sung-Sam was given permission to sleep on the floor of his professor’s office. But the building had no proper heating for wintry nights. In summer, he slept at the top of the building under starry skies. To fill his stomach, Sung-Sam gave tuition, sold Christmas cards, and worked at construction sites.
Besides studying, Sung-Sam attended the Reserve Officer Training Corps and trained as a high school teacher. But things took a turn for the worse when he fell ill with pleurisy. “I was very weak after four years of college life, with too many nights sleeping on the cold floor. I was hospitalised for two years when I graduated.” Although he was fortunate to be alive, his dream of becoming an officer was shattered. “I saw joining the army as a once-and-for-all solution to poverty and hunger.”
A Life-Changing Cheque
After recovering, Sung-Sam performed his mandatory military service and decided to continue his studies in the United States. But he didn’t have the funds to purchase a flight ticket. He was reminded of Matthew 7:7 – “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” – and finally found a way by escorting children adoptees to the US. He went on to earn a master’s degree and pursue a doctoral degree at Florida State University. But in 1985, with just one semester left, he was stripped of his scholarship due to a State policy. “I ran everywhere seeking help, but no one was willing to lend USD1,000 to a poor student like me.” Desperate, Sung-Sam wrote a letter to World Vision International asking for help. He could do nothing but wait.
Just when payment was due, Sung-Sam was overjoyed to receive a personal letter and a cheque for USD1,000 from World Vision. “With the cheque in my hands, I knelt down and thanked God, promising to repay the kindness. I made a copy of the cheque as a reminder of His goodness.” Sung-Sam went on to say: “This experience could be said to be a real turning point in my life. If I hadn’t received that cheque, I don’t know what would have happened to me. I was determined that I would repay this debt of love.”
After graduating, Sung-Sam returned to Korea to serve as a professor at his alma mater, before becoming the Dean of the Graduate School of Education.
Passing On The Love
Having been blessed by others, Sung-Sam believes strongly in passing on the love and opportunities he received to others in need. “The first thing I did after getting a job was to pay it forward. I thought hard about how much to give back and recalled the number 7 in the Bible. So, I sent USD7,000 to World Vision Korea. It was a large amount of money to me at that time, but I was filled with joy and happiness because I was finally able to pay it forward.”
As a former sponsored child, Sung-Sam firmly believes in child sponsorship. “I started with three children and increased the number to 68.” Even now in retirement, he still sponsors ten children. He also continues to stay in contact with his sponsors, the Gustafsons and their family, and the friendship now spans three generations.
Reflecting on his half-century-long journey with World Vision, Sung Sam said with emotion: “I was once a sponsored child, but now I have become a sponsor. When facing difficulties in life, we may feel like the hardships never end. We need to tell people in despair that there is no ordeal too severe to overcome. It is my sincere hope that World Vision will keep walking with children for whom dreams are just a luxury, so that one day they can realise their dreams.”
Sung-Sam’s story of hope and transformation is one of many in the 70 years since World Vision was founded. We are grateful that many former sponsored children like Sung-Sam who have been empowered by hope are now passing on hope to the children who need it most.
If you’re keen to join Sung-Sam in giving hope to those who need it most, log on to worldvision.com.my to find out more.
World Vision Malaysia is part of the global Christian humanitarian organization, World Vision International, dedicated to working with children and families to overcome extreme poverty and injustice. They work to promote human transformation, seek justice for the oppressed, and demonstrate the love of God for all people. World Vision serves all people regardless of religion, race, ethnicity, or gender. With staff and programmes in nearly 100 countries, World Vision has impacted the lives of over 200 million vulnerable children.