We Must Continue To Go

I recently led a seminar on the house church for INTERCP leaders and missionaries. INTERCP is a missionary organization that sends professionals as missionaries to Muslim countries. I accepted their invitation because I like their President, Paul Choi. He is a man of clear thinking and straight talk.

When some young people from Bundang Sasmmul Church were kidnapped in Afghanistan a few months ago, most pastors responded with “no comment” when questioned by journalists, probably out of fear that they would be attacked by anti-Christian groups and their sympathizers. Paul was virtually the only person who explained the rationale of Christian missions activities and defended the actions of the kidnapped young people.

At that time, some pastors went so far as to publicly ask forgiveness for the “offensive” mission strategies of Evangelical churches. They probably did this to calm the public, who was highly critical of the young people who had gone to a dangerous country. But I feel that their apology was groundless.

The truly offensive party is the Taliban, who is willing to kill and kidnap to promote their religion. Christians who go to war-torn countries to provide medical care, run orphanages, and teach children and young people without even saying the word “Jesus” for years cannot be called offensive.

The people of Afghanistan need help. 50%-60% of the 30 million people there live in dire poverty; 20% are in starvation. The average life span there is 44.5 years. The country is so poor that their government can’t provide adequate services for its people. This is why both the government and the people welcome Christian relief organizations. This is also why thousands of people demonstrated in the capital city Kabul, demanding that the Taliban release the young people they had kidnapped.

Some antagonists argue that Christians serve with the ulterior motive of propagating their religion. But all religious people proselytize, including Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus. When you believe something to be the truth, it is natural to want other people to know about it. You cannot condemn all religious propagation unless you are an atheist or deny the validity of religion entirely.

Of course, particular methods of propagation can be wrong. The way certain Muslims use force to propagate their religion is wrong. But serving the unfortunate with love and care the way Christian mission organizations do is not wrong or offensive. When the Korean public criticized the young people who were kidnapped instead of the rebels who kidnapped them, it showed how their values are skewed.

During and after the Korean War, 147 relief organizations were active in Korea. Among them were 113 Protestant and around 30 Catholic organizations. Because of those people who went to provide relief work despite the dangers there, Korea became what it is now – a strong and prosperous country. We must repay the debt by going and serving countries ravaged by war and natural disasters.

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