Shortly after moving to Korea with her husband in 2003, Min Hwang began to mentor young college women. It was then that she was connected to a university student in another city. This young girl was pregnant, scared, depressed, suicidal, and trying to save up for an abortion. Throughout the night, Min listened and counseled over the phone, but mostly, she simply prayed as she listened. After the conversation ended, she did not feel she had helped in any way. But God intervened. He worked in that young woman’s heart. A few hours later plans were underway for her to come and be cared for by Min and her church throughout her pregnancy. A beautiful, perfect baby girl was born. That was a happy beginning.
But more often than not, many women in Korea have a different story to tell.
It was through that first experience with the courageous young mother that God opened Min’s eyes to the painful reality in which many of Korea’s young women live. Many are alone and abandoned by family and boyfriends. Many are enslaved in the sex industry with personal debt bondage or even because of a loyalty to support and pay off her parent’s debts.
Discovering that a Gospel-centered, practical, holistic care center for women and their pre-born babies in these situations was non-existent in Korea, the Women’s Hope Center (WHC) was born in September of 2010.
The steering committee was composed of kindred spirits, mostly mothers, both Korean nationals and foreign nationals like Min, living and serving in Korea in the trenches with girls in crisis. The first several months were spent doing field research, learning from other existing organizations who cared for unwed mothers, adoptees, Korean women in the sex industry, runaway teenagers, and victims of rape and sexual abuse, including domestic violence.
Seeing a gap between the time at which girls were first devastated by sexual abuse/rape/the realization of pregnancy and when they choose to give birth to the baby, Min and her newly called Board of Directors and Executive Officers pressed on to become approved as a registered nonprofit in Korea in January of 2012. Volunteer lay counselors were trained and miraculously God provided the perfect headquarters in Pohang, Korea. During this time, the Executive Officers also had the privilege to provide free seminars on natural childbirth, fertility awareness, sexual integrity, abortion and the sanctity of life at the largest obstetrical hospital in Pohang, at local church youth groups and at a shelter for runaway teenage girls. In addition, a shop with donated new and gently used baby and maternity items was established in donated space next to a local cafe.
Then in May of 2012, WHC opened the first Crisis Pregnancy Center in Korea with the dual purpose of saving the lives of pre-born babies and caring for their scared and abused mothers.
WHC set up a simple, un-overwhelming website with an anonymous online chat feature. Girls who would never reach the point of being seen by the existing pregnancy help centers (often associated with adoption agencies) began to reach out for help and get the information and care they needed.
Not too long after the site was launched, God began to bring girls trapped in the sex industry to WHC’s attention and care. It became clear that when the girls discover that she is pregnant she would gain just enough courage to reach out for help.
Still, more often than not, the counselors would not hear from the girl again, but for every single baby saved and every young woman’s life freed and transformed, all those hours of prayers and tears were and continue to be worth it.
By God’s power and leading, as the support network of prayer warriors and people who have been called to be the Boazes of WHC have increased, WHC has expanded to include hidden and safe, long-term housing with vocational options counseling/training and educational opportunities (HOUSE OF HOPE). In addition, WHC is working to establish a social enterprise that will empower both formerly sexually exploited or trafficked Korean nationals and foreign nationals in Korea, and girls at high risk thereof (SANCTUARY RESTORED).
WHC desires to be able to help these women to claim a new life of freedom, dignity and living hope.
And so, with the life-saving, transformative love of Christ, WHC is here for the long-haul to be a strong, loving voice for the voiceless in Korea.