Newsmaker: South Korean LDS Heads Agency

As an expert in forensic odontology, South Korean dentist Chong Youl Kim has helped investigate and identify victims of Korean disasters such as the 1971 Daeyongak Hotel fire, a 1987 airline accident, and the more recent Sampoong department store collapse that killed some 500 people. Because of his knowledge, training, and experience, Brother Kim has been appointed director of Korea’s National Institute of Scientific Investigation (NISI), an agency that evaluates and develops scientific evidence from reports provided by law enforcement agencies and attorneys and also handles medical-legal autopsies and assists in arson and automobile accident investigations and body identification.

When Brother Kim met missionaries at about age 10, they were the first foreigners he had seen who weren’t soldiers. During his youth he studied the gospel, but when he decided to join the Church he needed to wait three more years until he turned 18 in 1960. When Brother Kim was baptized, the Church in Korea had fewer than 200 members in four branches. Today the nation has more than 80,000 members in 16 stakes, five districts, and four missions.

After baptism Brother Kim was called to teach a Gospel Principles Sunday School class by branch president In Sang Han, now a member of the Seventy. In 1973 Brother Kim became one of Korea’s first bishops, and he has also served in a stake presidency, a mission presidency, and as an elders quorum president. He served for many years as a part-time instructor in the Church Educational System after it was established in Korea. He was called as a regional representative in 1993, and today he serves as an Area Authority in the Church’s Asia North Area.

In addition to his new NISI position, Brother Kim continues teaching as a dental professor at Korea’s largest private university. As a Church member in an important and visible government role, he says his hope is to promote equality and justice in his homeland.

Serving with Class

Ever since the birth of her sister Sarah, Evelyn Gabriel has felt a special sensitivity toward those with disabilities, particularly mental. As an adult she used her talents as a hairdresser to serve disabled people in her hometown of Columbia, South Carolina. “I kept Mondays open to do disabled people,” she says. While Sarah lived at the Midlands Center, Evelyn and her brother set up beauty shops in other buildings.

But that was only the start of Evelyn’s service to the disabled. For five years she was president of the Family Council, a fund-raising organization that helped families become more involved with residents of a home for the disabled. One highlight of Evelyn’s leadership was organizing an event called the “Fun Fair,” which helped raise a large sum for the purchase of wheelchairs and other items needed by residents of the home.

Now Evelyn has taken the initiative to help disabled people enjoy more opportunities for religious worship. “I was taking three or four mentally disabled people to church, and I realized they were not getting much from the classes,” she recalls. “I told the bishop I believed more would come to church if there was a Sunday School class especially for them. I wanted the mentally disabled in my community to have a place where they could learn about religion in their own way and at their own pace.”

The bishop approved her idea, and in 1989 Sister Gabriel began teaching a Sunday School class for the mentally disabled. Today as many as 20 students participate each week, and the class has become a ward Relief Society service project. Sister Gabriel still teaches, and other sisters help with classroom activities and holiday parties. In class the students sing, watch religious videos, recite the Lord’s Prayer, bear testimony, and participate in group discussions.

A member of the Windsor Lake Ward, Columbia South Carolina Stake, Evelyn was recently honored with an annual service award by a local chapter of the national Association for Retarded Citizens.Linda Franklin, Columbia, South Carolina

Reaping What She Sews

Several years ago, television coverage about child abuse deeply affected Sadie Ray, a member of the Colfax Ward, Greensboro North Carolina Stake. “After I watched several of these programs,” she says, “I wondered what I could do to brighten up the lives of these children. At my age there’s so much you can’t do. I wanted to think of something I could do.”

It didn’t take long for Sadie to decide on a suitable way to serve abused children. The youngest of 12 children, she had grown up in a household where her mother did a lot of sewing. “I’ve sewn since I can remember,” Sadie says. “I made doll clothes when I was old enough to hold a needle.”

During her first year of sewing clothes for abused children, Sadie made 96 items, and she has made nearly that many each succeeding year. A ward member helped her find a home for abused children in Greensboro where the clothes are needed. “Many people have helped me by donating material,” Sadie says. “As a matter of fact, I haven’t had to buy any material since I’ve started. It comes from family and friends. I make summer clothes during the winter and winter clothes during the summer. That way I keep a season ahead.”

The mother of two sons and the grandmother of four boys, Sadie serves as a visiting teacher. Every other week she bakes bread for the sacrament, alternating with her sister Mary. “I have to keep busy,” she says. “You don’t have enough time to notice the aches and pains if you’ve got a project to work on. I get great pleasure from doing this. I’m very happy, and I have so much to be thankful for.”

In the Spotlight

  • Le Etta Pratt of the Bon Air Ward, Richmond Virginia Stake, was honored as the International Health Scholar at the 38th World Congress on Health, attended by some 700 participants from 47 countries. She was recognized for her research to strengthen health education. She has served as director of an international health commission since 1993, and she teaches at Virginia Commonwealth University.

  • U.S. Customs Service senior special agent John Fisher was given an award of honor by the International Narcotic Enforcement Officers Association. The award recognized his leading role in Operation Gopher Grab, a complicated narcotics money-laundering investigation that led to the seizure of U.S. $6.5 million in assets. Brother Fisher is a member of the Hillcrest Ward, Glendale Arizona North Stake.

  • Ed Adams, bishop of the San Angelo First Ward, Abilene Texas Stake, won an unprecedented fourth consecutive national research award from the U.S. Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication. This year he won in the magazine division, while in past years he won in the advertising division, history division, and media management and economics division. He is an assistant professor of journalism at Angelo State University, San Angelo, Texas.