Korean woman dances for God

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, July 24, 2002

Okie West remembers the day that doing a friend a favor changed her life.

The Korean-born West visited Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church with a Buddhist friend who had recently become a Christian to keep her company. While there, West had a life-altering experience.

&uot;I felt a knocking on my heart,&uot; said West. &uot;My heart was at peace. My friend said, ‘You got a gift from God.’ I didn’t know there was a Holy Spirit.&uot;

West was raised a Buddhist and married an American engineer in Korea. They moved to America when they discovered her husband was ill.

One thing in West’s life that has remained with her from her upbringing, however, was traditional Korean dancing.

As a child at her home in Korea, her brother would play the guitar, and West would dance. Now, West still dances, but to a different tune.

Now, she dances for God.

When her first husband passed away, West remarried a Jewish man. In 1992, they divorced, and it was not long after this that West sought something to help her depression over her divorce.

She searched for a Bible which was translated into Korean. Her search was unsuccessful, but she claims a miracle happened when a friend found a used Korean/English Bible in unclaimed luggage.

West began to read the Bible every day.

In 1997, on the World Day of Prayer, she was given a project &045; to do an interpretive dance to Christian music in her traditional Korean style of dancing.

West remembers feeling overwhelmed, but says that, since her experience in Our Lady of Sorrows, God speaks to her heart.

God, she said, showed her how to dance to Christian music.

&uot;He started teaching me, step by step,&uot; said West. &uot;I write down in Korean every day what He gives to me,&uot; she said, holding a pile of notebooks and journals filled with choreography.

West’s calendar is now booked months in advance. She travels to churches, schools, retirement homes and other places to show her love of God.

In traditional Korean dress, she dances to songs like &uot;In the Garden&uot; with fans, scarves and drums.

She gracefully moves to the music and often makes the symbol of the cross.

&uot;Most people cry when I dance,&uot; said West. &uot;My mission is to share with everybody what God gave to me,&uot; she said. &uot;It is a free gift.&uot;