College can be a stressful time for any student,
but for many orphans who attend college in South Korea, it is a time of utter exhaustion and isolation. At age 18, after graduating high school, South Korean orphans must move out of the orphanage where they grew up and are left to make it on their own. Aged out orphans are easy prey for sex traffickers, cults, and gangs. For those who manage to get into college, many of them struggle with drop out and debt due to tuition costs and living expenses
Perhaps most distressing is the fact that these young adults are left alone in the world without a reliable support system or family who loves them unconditionally.
Oak Tree Project, our partner ministry in South Korea, supports and mentors orphans attending college. As the young adults we serve experience a tangible representation of God’s love through their mentors, they grow from timid, self-reliant individuals into confident, connected men and women of faith.
Every March, Oak Tree Project conducts exit interviews with graduates to ensure they are doing everything they can to meet the needs of students.
Based on these interviews, we want to share some of the amazing life changes God has made possible through your generosity—
In South Korea, God is working in the lives of college-age orphans to…
…overcome depression with love.
“I was depressed. I blamed others for many circumstances, and I didn’t have any confidence in myself. But after being a part of Oak Tree Project, I realized I had many people who were willing to help me. That led me to understand I am able to do many things, and confidence began to grow within me. Their love helped me overcome my depression.”
…demonstrate His dependable presence.
“My mentor influenced my life a lot. She really helped me see things from a positive point of view. She taught me to see how God has given me different opportunities and that He is with me each step of the way.”
…increase motivation in school and life.
“I used to not be a great student, but thanks to Oak Tree Project’s 3.0 GPA requirement, I was motivated to study well during college, and I gained confidence with each year. The motivation I had to study began to extend to other areas of life as well.”
…shine a light on discouragement.
“When I would get discouraged and become negative, I felt like my mentor could just walk by and turn the lights on for me. Her brightness influenced me.”
…provide belonging that feels like family.
“The fun I had in Oak Tree Project cannot be compared to other programs. I didn’t feel like Oak Tree Project was a scholarship program; it felt more like somewhere I belong, like a family.”
…teach reliance on God over worldly things.
“I became more sincere in my relationship with God, and my attitude toward life changed a lot through this program. My mentor has had a big impact on my life! He kept telling me that God loves me unconditionally. He also taught me practical things in life too, while continually encouraging me to rely on God rather than worldly things.”
…equip students to build healthy relationships.
“I was very lonely my first year in college before applying for Oak Tree Project, but I became a totally different person my second year after joining the program and loving it. In the past, I always had a hard time getting along with older people, but through my mentor’s dedicated love, I was able to build comfortable relationships with adults.”
The graduates who shared these words are soon-to-be alumni of Oak Tree Project.
Unlike the days following their high school graduations, they now have a community that has invested in their lives and cares to see them succeed in the future.
Alumni of Oak Tree Project frequently return to spend time with staff and mentors, even after graduation. Recently, six alumni attended a reunion where they played games and talked with staff late into the night.
God cares deeply for orphans, whether young children or college graduates. May our hearts also be stirred to love and care for orphans through every stage of life.