It was a very fast 48 hours. Home stay, visits to the national assembly, hospital, and Gracias
Music School, the Appointment Ceremony as IYF Advisor, a stop at Flower Town, which is a community facility in Eumsung City, and interviews with various news outlets…the Speaker of the National Assembly of Paraguay, Fernando Lugo, arrived in Korea at 11 pm on January 10th.
“The weather was cold and it was a very tight schedule, but wherever I went, I had a wonderful, joyous time together with Pastor Ock Soo Park,” he said.
Among the many events from Wednesday to Friday, Speaker Lugo chose his appointment as IYF Advisor as the most memorable one. The current IYF Advisor panel consists of President Thomas Yayi Boni (former president of Benin), President Anote Tong (former president of Kiribati), former first lady of Malawi Kalista Mutharika, and other leaders of the world. Speaker Lugo said, “I am very unworthy, yet I am so happy to be given the capacity to do this work.”
Speaker Lugo’s original dream was to be a teacher. At the age of 19, he became an elementary school teacher and taught many children living in poverty. After finishing his studies in Rome, he began to teach in five different colleges in Paraguay’s San Pedro region. Occasionally, there are his old students who run into him and say, “Hello, Teacher, how are you?” He says that being a teacher makes him as proud as being the former president or being the Speaker.
“Educating people is one of the most precious things someone can do. As I visited the Gracias Music School, I could feel my old passion and love for education coming back to life.”
It was clear that Lugo is deeply concerned about current problems and difficulties of Paraguay. Education in Paraguay has vastly improved. In the national assembly alone, only 10% of the members were double majors from universities while currently 47% of the members are double majors. The youth of Paraguay have amazing passion for learning new technologies and skills. Although Speaker Lugo is happy that students have shown motivation to study, he is disappointed that they are only interested in learning skills and technology. Problems concerning youth unemployment, drugs, and violence remain issues that weigh heavily in his heart.
What is the solution? Perhaps it is Mind Education, the training of the mind through biblical principles, which Pastor Ock Soo Park has developed and presented to many nations. Speaker Lugo said that he has no doubt that Mind Education is absolutely necessary in Paraguay.
“The Mind Education that Pastor Park brings forth is an education the youths of the world absolutely need. It teaches them a healthy mindset and a proper set of values. Mind Education is implemented in various ways in several countries right now. There are those sowing the seed with Pastor Park right now, there are those who are watering, there are those who are growing trees, and there are those who are reaping and harvesting. We look forward to cooperating with IYF for the education of Paraguay.”
Speaker Lugo arrived at the Incheon Airport and was welcomed by Pastor Ock Soo Park at the VIP lounge. While drinking ginseng tea, he said, “This tastes bitter and sweet, much like the taste of life.” He was the premier leader of a nation and is now the chairman of the national assembly. His life was not always easy and smooth. He was born into a poor family and had to street vend snacks in order to afford tuition and living expenses. After becoming a teacher, he taught poor children. He then became a Catholic priest and served in the poorest area of Paraguay: San Pedro. He experienced many difficulties, which taught him the humility to be thankful even for the smallest things. He did not indulge or get lost in the sweetness of power. He ran for the presidency from the minority party and won. Even when facing political adversities, he empties his heart and lets go of all things.
During an interview with a Korean media outlet, this is what he said about his Korea visit:
“I was invited to Korea by Pastor Ock Soo Park many times. Now I’m finally able to come. I renewed my friendship with Pastor, renewed my faith, and renewed my idea of cooperation. I want to find a new path that all mankind longs for. Korea is interested in Paraguay, and Paraguay is interested in Korea. We want to grow this friendship. I hope our two nations can continue in friendship and cooperation.”
Korea was the first country Fernando Lugo visited after being elected president. Through it, he met Pastor Ock Soo Park, heard the gospel and became a born-again brother in Christ. He visited Korea in 2008 and 2012. He also experienced cancer and overcame the threat of death. God was with him and healed his cancer. We don’t know when he will return to Korea. But one thing is for sure. God who lives him will continue to work for him. We look forward to Speaker Lugo’s next visit.