Jacob's Adoption Story

On Valentine's Day last week, Stephen and Joy Yoon, received a huge blessing of love in the form of a child named Jacob. After years of wanting to adopt a son, the day finally arrived for the Yoons to bring in the newest addition of their family. Three year old Jacob from China was born with cerebral palsy and though that may seem like a difficult obstacle for most families,  Stephen & Joy have been treating North Korean children with cerebral palsy for the past several years. It really speaks volume for a family to put their faith into action by not only committing to the children of North Korea, but to bring a child with CP into their home and love him as their very own. Through their work with special needs children in North Korea, God had been preparing their lives for something far beyond their expectations. And with that, our Ignis team has been ecstatic to see the new Yoon family become a family of six in the past week and we wanted to share their story with our community.

A short Q A with Joy Yoon:

When did you guys first decide to adopt a child? And what was the process like?
Joy: We have been wanting to adopt a child for over 4 years now. I have dreamed of adopting a child ever since I was young because I knew many adopted families growing up. We at first tried several other agencies, but since we live and work overseas, none of our previous adoption agencies worked out. We gave up the hope of adopting which is when Anna began praying for a younger brother. Then we met our social worker from our current adoption agency by chance during our family vacation at a likeminded facility. She enabled us to adopt. And since we adopted a child with special needs, the process only took about a year.

Were you guys specifically looking for a child with disabilities?
Joy: Yes. We wanted to adopt a child with CP since we have experience working with children who have CP.

How has your work in North Korea helped prepare you as parents for Jacob?
Joy: Our experience in the field has taught us patience and how to work with children who have special needs. If we did not have this experience, I don't think we would be prepared to adopt a child like this.

What was your biggest fear as you guys waited to bring Jacob into your family?
Joy: Our biggest fear about adoption was that our son would not be able to attach with us.

Describe your first moments with Jacob. How were they in comparison to your anticipation?
Joy: When we received Jacob, he bonded with us much faster than we had anticipated. His disabilities were also much milder than we were prepared for. In fact, he has surpassed our expectations and cried very little.

Any prayer requests?
Joy: Please continue to pray for Jacob's adjustment. He is having to learn a new language, and he has some minor behavioral issues to overcome. Pray for good attachment and bonding with our family.

Ignis China: Sarang House Update

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Since our first visit in 2005, Sarang House Orphanage has left an unmistakable imprint in our hearts and in the DNA of our organization. Summer after summer, we watched the children grow from toddlers to teens, loved them through their endearing youngster days, as well as through their rebellious teenage angst. To put it simply, we became family—in every sense of the word. 

Crazy how quickly children grow up!

During the last 11 years of ministry at Sarang House Orphanage, we have sent hundreds of short-term volunteers from across California. Many of our first-time volunteers would go in thinking: “I am going on this mission trip and I will bless those kids through my service.” Humbly we went, but with a sense that we have something to give to children who are in need. However, ask any of one of them and you’ll hear that all expectation was turned on its head. The day the bus pulled out the gates of Sarang House, it was not us who gave, but received.

Our ultimate goal was always to share the love of Jesus with the children, who seemed to lack any understanding of it in their earthly families. Surprisingly, each year, it was actually the children who taught us how to love. Sarang House was a sacred place, where children, abandoned and outcast, were welcomed in and embraced. And within this embrace, we saw beauty and strength rise up from what the rest of the world had deemed unworthy and unlovable. We are grateful for each moment we were able to witness this deep richness in the heart of each child. Though they seemed to have so little, they were so rich.

Sure, we helped them build new dormitories, raised funding for monthly food costs and winter coals, and brought volunteers from across the state; but, none of that compares to gift each child gave us: the gift of themselves. So openly they welcomed us into their home and into their hearts, challenging and shifting our worldview in the best of ways. They reminded us of the potential and strength that lives in each of God’s children, and the power a nurturing and loving community has to unlock and grow that potential.

Years of positive success stories, however, were met with just as many obstacles, ranging from internal political issues to government resistance that have subsequently led us to a place of letting go and offering up the orphanage and the lives of the children to the One who holds it all in His hands. It was not an easy decision, as we fought tirelessly for months to keep the orphanage operating under Ignis, dealing with licensing issues and internal turmoil with faculty and staff. However, the Lord has led us to a place of surrender—and with faith, we are offering up to God what always belonged to Him.

Goodbyes are difficult. Though under different leadership, we know Sarang House will always, ultimately, be built up by Lord. We believe that the He will continue to care for His children, whom he loves so much. We are grateful for the memories and relationships that were fostered within the walls of Sarang House. And all we experienced and learned through the children there continues to stretch beyond the gates of Sarang House in strong currents of positive change.

This past summer, Ignis was blessed with the opportunity to visit and meet with 3 organizations impacting the lives of orphans in China. With these newly formed relationships, Ignis’ desire is to support like-minded groups and continue to be an advocate for change. We are excited to partner with and journey alongside other Kingdom workers and we want to give you the chance to learn and share in the incredible work they are doing across the nation of China.

Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the past 11 years of support and love for Sarang House Orphanage. Many lives were transformed for the better because of your partnership. We do not believe that anything ends here, but that God is making room for new and exciting things to come in the future. Stay tuned!

Ignis in Zengzhou

The Ignis team just wrapped up their travels to Zhengzhou, China where we had the amazing opportunity to visit various child centers that are impacting lives of orphans in China. As we begin to plan for new project initiatives in China, this was a valuable time of witnessing how other groups are operating and the impact they are having in their respective communities.

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It was beyond a blessing to see every child's life being cared for with such deep love and compassion. At the same time, it was a stark reminder of how great the need is and how there is still so much work to be done. There are still so many children who are in need of care, love and attention.

Take a look at our recap video here:

It is our hope that our Ignis family would come alongside all the groups we met and continue to be a source of refuge and hope for more children in China. Stay tuned!

Special thanks to New Hope Foundation, Swallow's Nest Children's Home, Home of Hope and Bring Me Hope for opening your doors & hearts to our team and to Sias International University for hosting our stay!

March Prayer Focus: Cerebral Palsy

March 1st marks the beginning of National Cerebral Palsy Awareness month. We are blessed to be able to care for several children suffering from CP in our rehabilitation center in Pyong Yang; however, there are still many children waiting to be treated and several hundreds more who are still untouched and hidden away in their homes. Families often times lack the general awareness that although there is not a cure, CP can be treated so that the child can live a happy, full life. Most believe the disease is untreatable and leave their children in debilitating circumstances; however with simple physical therapy treatments like the kinds practiced at our rehab center, major improvements can be seen in children's range of motion and quality of life.

We want to bring awareness to families about this disorder that affects so many children not only in our own homes but also abroad in North Korea and China and start the conversation on how we can be more proactive in tackling this issue. With funds continuing to come in for our Pyong Yang Spine Rehabilitation Center (PYSRC), we will continue to press forward towards providing an amazing space where Dr. Stephen and Joy Yoon can continue their work and treat the hundreds of children waiting to be taken in.

We are praying for all of our children in our rehabilitation center and for their families as well as all of those untouched children waiting to be seen and given a second chance at life.

For more information on how you can be a part of this movement, visit our North Korea page or email info@igniscommunity.org