Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Korean Missionaries

A few months ago, Korean missionaries to Afghanistan were taken hostage by the Taliban. A few were killed, the rest ransomed, and the Taliban was able to reap a political and religious windfall from the world media.

These missionaries and their sending church received a LOT of criticism over their being sent to such a "dangerous" and "volatile" situation. Even a few churches and missionary groups joined in the chorus.

I found it incredulous that many Christians were blaming the missionaries for what happened. As if they wanted the Taliban to kidnap and murder them. I'm sure it had nothing to do with sharing the love of Christ in action (medicine) and word (Bibles and sharing the message of Christ). Apparently, sharing the love of God is now a worse crime than being a Taliban murderer.

I pondered the concept that suddenly it's taboo to be a missionary to "dangerous" situations. Wow. How fast we slide into complacency. As someone arrested for passing about Bibles, I can relate to this only a bit; however, I remember being scared. I remember wondering, "What have I gotten myself into...Wait! No, what have YOU gotten me into God!?!"

At that moment, it came into focus for me: God did get me in a Turkish military barracks held at gunpoint, but then again, God made the Universe. It was one of those moments when the immensity of God became a shield, a rock on which to cling. We sang Amazing Grace, and it never sounded so beautiful...as if a thousand angels sang with us.

Yet, here is the miracle. After dumping out 600 Turkish Bibles on the ground, the officers yelled at us telling us to never come back or give out Bibles again. Yet, behind the officers, one of the enlisted men, grabbed one, put his finger to his mouth (insinuating being sneaky), and put the Bible inside his shirt...smiling, he offered us a wink.

A whole day in a barracks at gunpoint, 599 Bibles "wasted", and my suffering from eating that raw peach the night before (oi veh! Never eat raw fruit in Istanbul)! For what? For one soldier to read the Word of God? Who knows, perhaps for one Turkish soldier to come to Christ?

Can we put a value to the risk of sharing the Gospel of Christ?

My point: If God called these missionaries to Afghanistan, they were martyrs, literally witnesses, to Christ. From the beginning, the people of faith have been beaten, flogged, abused, threatened, and murdered in the name of Jesus. All of a sudden, now it's wrong? That's [insert explicative here]. Jesus said, "Take up your cross and follow me." If I'm not mistaken, a cross is a death sentence, and following Jesus means we must be willing to go even to Afghanistan.

Their blood cries out, and God will have justice....And my guess is, someone's life was changed by seeing a Christian executed for sharing the passionate love of God.

For more thoughts on this, read this excellent article from Relevant.

No comments: