Korean Treasure



We celebrated our youngest son’s birthday this past week as he just turned 19.  My wife had been cleaning out some old pictures and going through some shoeboxes of keepsakes when she found this article she wrote almost 18 years ago.  I would like to share it with you.

March 1991,                                                                                                                         

                It had come.  The report of 14-month old Jung Woo Lee, born in Korea was in our hands, complete with pictures.  The report described him as “bright and active.”  That sounded good.  “He is pacified easily if only soothed, and tends to adjust to new places soon.”  That was also good considering his age and all he had been through.  Then came the unsettling part.  “He is hot-tempered and stubborn so that he must needs do what he wants to do.”  A stubborn temperament, several disruptions in his young life, and now the prospect of a new culture and language at a time when language development was critical were real concerns.

                We considered our circumstances for the thousandth time.  Keith and I were both nearing 40.  This would be our third adoption, and the second of Korean origin.  We were well aware of our weaknesses as parents.  Did we want to disrupt the settled condition of our nice little family?  We could refuse the referral, of course.  But his little face looked back at us in his pictures with a look that was sadly endearing and seemed to say, “I am the one you have been praying for.”  And there are simply times in your life, as you know, when you are certain God has spoken and asked you to join Him in His work, and this was one of those times.  Keith phrased our decision well.  He said, “When do we step out in faith to face the Goliaths in our lives?”

                Three months later, I flew to Korea to bring home Jung Woo, whom we had named Timothy.  The first day I saw Timothy at the Eastern Child Welfare Office in Seoul, I fell in love with him, no exaggeration.  While his foster mother held him, I handed her a gift. It was a tile trivet with Texas wildflowers painted on it.  Timothy reached out his little hand for it, and I grabbed the other corner of it to take it out of his grasp.  Mrs. Kim, the foster mother, gently pushed my hand away and let Timothy have the tile.  In a flash, he had taken the tile and thrown it across the room.  Only a corner had broken off, and as Mrs. Kim, with not a word of reprimand, showed him how the edge was now rough and broken, I realized with a sinking feeling that some “Goliaths” are only two feet tall.

                Through the adjustment period over the next two years, I learned an incredible number of things.  I learned that a little child has the amazing power to alter completely the lives of everyone around him. I learned that I could not move as fast as he could.  I learned that I was not nearly as patient or wise as I thought.  I learned that interrupting a person’s sleep with screaming three or four times a night is a very effective way of destroying physical and mental capabilities.  I learned the meaning of perseverance, and that obedience to God does not always look like success.  And, finally, I learned that whether our giants are nine feet tall or only two, they are not overcome with strength or superior weaponry, but with small stones of faith in a mighty, promise-keeping God.


  1. Tim is now a student in a college on a music scholarship.  We have great joy in seeing his jazz concerts.  I do not possess the gift of music he has been blessed with and love to see it in others much less mine own son (he is the one we have been praying for). 
  2. He does well academically and has many friends (he is bright and active).
  3. He is enjoying his college days (tends to adjust to new places soon).
  4. He still sometimes acts impulsively (he must needs do want he wants to do).  I am hopeful this will improve with age but he still upsets easily (hot tempered) if he does not get what he wants quickly.
  5. He still has a look of annoyance when we try to offer guidelines for his life (stubborn).  I’m sure none of the rest of you as parents have ever felt this way.
  6. Some days I envy King David who slew his giant while mine seems to be an ongoing struggle.  Then I remember King David had some real issues with his children.  Talk about rebellion.
  7. He has accepted the Lord as his Savior and continues to grow in that journey. (Small stones of faith).
  8. Jung Woo losely  translated means “right happy” according to our adoption paperwork from Korea.
  9. Timothy means “honoring God.”


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