As you know, we live in a big world with equally big needs. So it’s our joy and privilege to partner with existing ministries where God is already at work reaching the most vulnerable.
Today, Lifesong partners around the world include fellow organizations, local churches, and courageous individuals who are working and serving in neighborhoods and communities to bring joy and purpose where it is needed most.
Today, we’re excited to introduce you to our newest ministry partner—
We’re now partnering with a ministry in South Korea!
Seoul, the capital of South Korea has an estimated population of 10.29 million people (roughly the population of North Carolina). Surrounding communities raise that number to 25.6 million—making Seoul the second largest metropolitan area in the world.
So it’s not a surprise that Seoul is also home to many orphaned children and young adults.
According to Holt International, during the past 70 years, over 1 million children have grown up in orphanages in Korea, with 6,000 young adults aging out every year.
In 2012, the South Korean government passed a law making it harder for children to be adopted (and especially to be adopted internationally). So that number continues to grow.
What happens when Korean orphans age out?
Korean orphans must move out of the orphanage within two weeks of graduating from high school.
No doubt, you can remember the fears, insecurities, and unknowns that you felt as a brand new high school graduate with your whole future ahead of you. Now imagine navigating your next steps without any family members to guide or encourage you.
The Korean government issues each orphan grad $5,000, and then sends them out into the world.
In Korea—with the high cost of living (average rent of a one-bedroom apartment in Seoul is roughly $850 USD)—this means a brand new high school graduate must essentially work full-time immediately after leaving the orphanage just to pay for tuition and living expenses.
This, as you can imagine, is often a recipe for burnout.
So why reach orphan grads in Korea?
Since 2013, Oak Tree Project—has been absolutely committed to reaching orphan grads and helping them navigate adulthood.
John-Michael Becker, one of the ministry’s founders, explained it this way—
“Korean orphans go from living in the children’s home with 40–100 kids and workers to suddenly living on their own. The lack of emotional support has led to some students falling into depression and even committing suicide.”
And if that isn’t bad enough, orphans remain an ongoing target for sex trafficking and for gangs.
This is not God’s heart for fatherless children. The Bible tells us repeatedly to, “Give justice to the weak and the fatherless; maintain the right of the afflicted and the destitute” (Psalm 82:3).
Korean orphan grads need help and compassion in order to succeed.
So how can we help orphan grads in Korea?
For many students, the rigorous demands of a full-time job right out of high school means they struggle with their school work and/or drop out of university or college classes entirely.
This is understandable.
But this decision leads to higher rates of depression, debt, and poverty. And the orphan cycle continues.
So Oak Tree Project is committed to helping grads in two specific ways—
1. Scholarship program
Each student receives $500 a month to help with living expenses. With finances provided, students are able to dedicate time to their studies. This allows them to earn high grades and scholarships for tuition which sets them up for success with school.
Each student is paired with a caring mentor who is committed to the student until they graduate. Mentors call the students weekly and see them monthly. This relationship puts them on a path for connection and growth.
The Oak Tree Project has already helped many students. But it is their prayer—and ours—that this is only the beginning.
With this program, many orphan grads are now at the top of their class, and many have gone on to pursue dignified careers and impact their communities. And many of these students are breaking the orphan cycle that brought them so much pain.
This exciting partnership has been in the works for the past year, and we look forward to sharing amazing stories of redemption as God works through you to reach more kids and young adults in Korea for His glory!
EMPOWER ORPHAN GRADS IN KOREA.
All photos are courtesy of Oak Tree Project.