Seoul (AsiaNews) - No legs and no arms, but with an enormous will to live and a lot of gratitude to the Lord for a life full of meaning. This could summarize the life of Br. Gu-Won Lee, now a lay missionary of the Society of Saint Luke Hwang. Despite being abandoned at birth because of serious birth defects, he has survived and has chosen to devote his life to God and proclaiming the Gospel of hope for the disabled in South Korea.
An encounter with a priest, his adoptive father, and the support of the missionary community in which he grew up has made him one of the most active members of the community. Br. Lee will have a personal meeting with the Pope during his visit to the "Village of Flowers" in Kkottongnae on August 16th: immediately after, the Pope will pray at the "Taeahdongsan" cemetery for aborted babies.
Brother Lee Gu-won (which in Korean means "salvation") was born May 9, 1990 with no legs and no arms. He has never had any contact with his parents and does not know where he was given birth: the only thing certain is that it was abandoned at the Seoul's Holy Family adoption center. On 12 July the same year, Fr. John Bosco Kim Dong-il went to visit young Lee at the orphanage: He knows that no one will ever choose the boy, and so asks his bishop to allow him to become his father. Permission was granted and he brought the baby to the St. Luke Missionary Society Hwang, in the diocese of Chenogju: Here they lived together in the community.
His adoptive father explains his choice in simple words: "If I had not taken him with me, it would have been like killing him. I realize that a child with these problems represents a huge sacrifice financial and time wise, but we can not base everything on money. Korean society needs to understand that every life is precious, even one that may seem more complicated. "His brothers became missionaries of St. Luke, who will accompany him on his journey.
Aided by many benefactors and missionaries, in March 2008 young Lee manages to get into the Catholic University of Daejeon. Both he and his father point out that these results were not given away, but are the result of study and hard work: in the meantime, a missionary vocation began to mature in the young man which on January 31, 2011 leads him - with the permission of the bishop - to pronounce the first votes of the novitiate: "My brothers told me about our society's 'Centre for Life', and I decided to commit my life to this purpose. My dream is to proclaim the Gospel of life and love for human beings".
In March 2013 he finally graduated, and his dream became a reality. He now works at the Centre, where he comforts the sick and the abandoned, and writes a monthly newsletter that his readers call "inspiration." For his part, Br. Lee today says: "Fr. Bosco Kim asked me to proclaim the Gospel to people with disabilities. I pray to God and thank him for his blessings, including the ability to work in favor of life in the missionary field. I want to communicate to the world and Korea, which has the highest rate of youth suicide in the world, the message of hope in our Lord".