Tuesday, December 24, 2013

The First Christmas Memory

The First Christmas Memory

The two boys huddled to warm themselves before a small fire burning inside a makeshift tent-like hut. The hut was so small that a grown up man could not stand. The boys ages must have been around five and the younger one around 3 ½. The night was dark and cold with knee-deep snow outside.  The boys had barely eaten anything all day long and they were hungry. 

All day long they walked the streets looking for food and rummaged through the discarded trash, and they walked the streets in hopes of finding a coin or two to buy something to eat, but the snow made it hard for them.  So it was going to be another night of going to sleep with hunger.  Their bodies itched with lice, and they would take their clothes off and heat it on the flame without burning, and would watch the lice crawl out of the seams and the boys would kill them off one by one. In a shiver they would quickly put their clothes back on.

Then out of the darkness and into the hut came in their father, with a big smile on his face, and he was in a good mood.  The boys thought something was unusual with their father, who would usually come home drunk and often beat their mother and the boys.  A few months earlier the mother, who could not stand getting beaten every day, ran away from home.   So it was unusual for the boys to see their father come home happy that night.

He reached into his pocket and pulled out a couple of breads wrapped in a newspaper, and gave it to the boys.  Then he surprised the boys by singing “Silent Night, Holy Night”… that’s all he knew of the song.  So he repeated it again and again several more times but did not know the rest of the song beyond “Silent Night, Holy Night”.  The boys didn’t understand what the song was about and they had never heard of such song before.  However, they eagerly devoured the breads and were content that their father was in a merry mood and happy they had something to eat that day. The boys would long remember that there was something special about that night.

Each day the father left the hut in the morning, leaving it up to the boys to fend for themselves.  He left no food or drink, and each day the boys roamed the streets looking for food to eat.  A few months later the boys would learn that their father is captured by the police and is put in a jail.  The boys are without mother or father and they are on their own. 

But the boys are able to survive each day as they continue to roam the streets, and able to find something to eat.  There were some kind people who would pity the boys and give some foods. There was one particular woman who sold steamed crabs under a bridge where the boys’ hut was, and she took interest in them and would often give them free crabs.  She was kind to them, and the boys like her.

One day the woman decided to take the younger boy to her home to raise him, leaving the older one behind.  She bought new clothes and put them on the younger one and took him home.  The five years old boy is now all alone for the first time.  It was the last time he would see his brother.  He was envious of his brother who now didn’t have to roam the streets looking for food to eat or be cold.

A few days later the older boy would be found by a gentleman, and he is taken to an orphanage.  He stayed there a few months before being transferred to another orphanage to get a surgery on his crippled leg.  There he meets hundreds of other children in the orphanage.   There he meets Harry Holt and his family.  

On one cold Sunday, the orphans were all gathered up in a chapel, and there they sang the “Silent Night, Holy Night”.  As the boy followed along and learned the song, he thought he had heard the song somewhere.  Then he remembered…it was the same song that his father tried to sing a year earlier where the father didn’t know the rest of the song. The boy learned to sing the rest of the song and knew it was a special song. 

All is calm, all is bright.
Round yon Virgin Mother and child!
Holy Infant so tender and mild,
Sleep in heavenly peace.

Son of God, love's pure light,
Radiant beams from Thy holy face,
With the dawn of redeeming grace,
Jesus, Lord, at Thy birth.

Through the years as each Christmas rolled in, whenever he sang this song the boy’s memory would always drift back to the time when he first heard the “Silent Night, Holy Night” from his father. And each year the meaning of the song became more and clearer to him in a special way, but at the same time it was filled with sadness and a feeling of compassion for his lost father, who eventually died without ever knowing the rest of the song.

With all the pain and abuse the boy suffered under his father, that night a long ago in a small hut, the terror became peace as the first Christmas spirit was first experienced by the boy.  The father who could not sing beyond “Silent Night, Holy Night” at least made a special night to remember for this boy, who would later bear the name of Morrison.

Merry Christmas.   


  1. Thank you for sharing this personal and powerful memory. Merry Christmas. Thank you for all you do on behalf of the Korean fatherless.

  2. Thank you for sharing this post. Truly amazing..
    Thanks to God, but also, thank you for who you are and what you do.

  3. I can only praise The Lord that even through these dark and difficult experiences, He has made you to be the gracious and positive man that you are. Thank you for all that you do for those who don't have voices.

  4. Steve, you are simply an amazing and inspiring person. Thank you for your tireless efforts on behalf of Korea's defenseless children. Obviously the Lord has used the difficult early experiences in your life to mold you into the hard working, humble and mature, Godly man that you are. Incredible story. One that I will share with my 4 Korean born blessings.

  5. Merry Christmas Steve. Thank you, for everything

  6. Merry Christmas to all and a Blessed New Year!

  7. Wow!! Thanks for sharing Steve!! God Bless you and all you do, and Merry Christmas to you and yours!!

  8. Fighting back tears as I read this--what an amazing testimony you have. Thank you for allowing the Lord to use you in such a special way. God bless you and your family.