Do you hear the loneliness?
SuHan Park, an eager, intense first-year MBA student did.
Looking out the bus window during his commute into New York City every day, he saw scores of young immigrant men standing around on the streets, hoping to be offered day-labor jobs. So one Saturday morning in winter, SuHan grabbed a $12 container of coffee from Dunkin Donuts and went to talk to them.
As he handed over the steaming cups, he asked about their lives. When he discovered that most of the men were from Guatemala, he started singing their national anthem and showing them his Guatemalan driver’s license. This earned some surprised laughs. You see, SuHan, a Korean-American, had spent his childhood in Guatemala, where his dad ran an apparel factory. He began to visit the men Saturday after Saturday.
A recent “revert” to Christianity, SuHan felt called to do more. He wanted to help these young men fill the long hours of waiting. He asked his friends to donate iPods and mp3 players. They did. He loaded the devices with free music, praise and worship songs and a Spanish audio version of the Bible.
SuHan started to wake up before 6 a.m. on workdays. He would get off the bus early and invite one of the laborers to breakfast. Over pancakes and eggs in a nearby diner, he would listen to a man’s story and share his own. Often, he heard of hardship, of a wife or child far away, and grief. One man, who happened to be wearing a Notre Dame sweatshirt, told him that his daughter had been murdered the week before back home. As they finished breakfast, SuHan took out an mp3 player and handed it to him.
Last spring and summer, SuHan gave out 120 mp3 players. His ministry is very personal, he says, because Christ’s love is personal. “They touch it in their hands; some guys break down and cry,” he recalls.
SuHan hopes to combine his tech background (bachelor’s degree in management information systems from Notre Dame) and his MBA to start businesses in Central America to bring desperately needed jobs there. In the meanwhile, if he gets an internship in New York this summer, he plans to continue distributing his mp3 players one at a time.
In this uneven recovery, I am wondering who I see out my car window each day.
SuHan told me that his prayer to God every morning is, “Please make me not lazy.”
An interesting thought.