Mission life: THE KUKMIN DAILY

Children's Prayer Book With Korean Feeling: “I’m growing in God’s Word, day by day”

2018-01-04 15:38

While the Korean churches clamor about “the next generation,” in fact they have neglected children’s faith education. It is difficult for parents to find good children’s Bibles or prayers to read with their youngsters at bedtime. Most children’s books in the market are translations, and it is hard for Korean children to empathize with their blond-haired, blue-eyed, pointed-nose heroes.

In this respect, the new book “I’m growing in God’s Word, day by day” (published by Ddaseuhan Iyagi) is a gift to the Korean church. Rev. Kim Hyeon-tae (52) and artists Kim Eun-gi (46) and Lee Su-hui (43) have worked together for three years on this project. On January 2, I met them at the Kukmin Daily Building in Yeouido, Seoul. (Photo, from left: artists Kim and Lee, and Rev. Kim.)

Feeling sad about the Korean church’s lack of a decent nighttime prayer book or Bible specifically for children, Rev. Kim decided to write one himself. First he chose key Bible verses, from Genesis to Revelation. Then he wrote prayer texts for 365 days, at a level easily understandable to children.

Kim thought back to when he was five years old and went to church for the first time. There he heard the fascinating story of David and Goliath, and came to believe in Jesus. “That story is still very alive for me even after 40 years,” he said. “This shows the importance and strength of the Bible’s storytelling, and I think that if we tell Bible stories to children from early on, their faith will put down deep roots and continue life-long.”

Kim has been lecturing for a long time on the Bible’s truths and core values, from the standpoint of spirituality, but he confessed that this project for children was not easy. He said, “The Bible often talks about sin, but I had to come up with ways to make this meaningful for children. I tried to use a lot of vocabulary familiar to children, such as Avengers, Spiderman, pizza, and hamburger.”

Different from books structured around well-known events in the Bible, this one focuses on various Biblical texts including passages from Leviticus, Chronicles, and Revelation. Each day’s selection ends with two or three sentences of prayer related to the main text.

Another benefit of this book is the beautiful drawings, filled with warm feeling. Artist Kim Eun-gi explained, “I made the children the heroes and heroines in the pictures, so that child readers can feel friendly towards them.”

As a painter, Kim had been drawing the Annunciation and other scenes from the Bible, when a senior acquaintance encouraged her, saying, “Why don’t you extend yourself and paint the Bible from beginning to end?” Those words remained in her heart. “I thought, ‘Although I have lived in the faith since I was in my mother’s womb, and have continuously attended church, my faith is still weak.’ As a mother myself, I wanted to make a book through which mothers, too, could feel God’s grace. That’s when I met Rev. Kim and we came to plan this book together.” Drawing 365 scenes, however, was a big challenge. So she and Rev. Kim looked for another artist and found the perfect one, Lee Su-hui, at the on-line creative contents platform “Grafolio.”

Kim planned and structured the scenes, and Lee drew all the individual pictures and colored them with colored pencils. Lee had gone through hard times in the past: when she was in her 30s, her parents went bankrupt, which was a financial crisis for the whole family. Together with her two children, then two and five years old, and her parents, she moved into a prayer house in Hwacheon, Gangwon-do, where they lived a communal life for eight years.

Their livelihood was so poor that they had to survive the winters with one small heater. But there was no restriction on worshipping or praising. There Lee met God again. She said, “I was not able to paint at the time. I prayed that if I could paint again, I would draw Bible stories… When I was contacted by Rev. Kim and artist Kim, I remembered my prayer and decided right away to do the project.” The title of the book was made together by Lee, her husband, and their children.

Lee said, “I think that making this precious book is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and throughout the project I have considered it a gift to myself… I hope the readers, children as well as their parents, will feel God’s love through this book.”

Reporter Narae Kim (narae@kmib.co.kr), with Yeara Ahn-Park (yap@kmib.co.kr)
Photo by intern reporter Shin Hyeon Ga
Illustrations from the book provided by Ddaseuhan Iyagi

Original Article in Korean:
한국적 정서 담아 어린이들에게 친숙한 기도책: ‘날마다 말씀으로 자라요’ 펴낸 김현태 목사, 김은기-이수희 작가

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