All remaining hostages are now freed! On the 43rd day of the Korean Christian relief workers hostage situation, the captivity has finally come to an end. [I’ve sought to regularly update folks on the situation through this blog entry]. The remaining 7 hostages were released today.
Taliban militants in Afghanistan released seven hostages Thursday evening in two batches of four and three.
A Taliban negotiator Mullah Bashir told The Korea Times over the telephone that the release of the group of four _ two men and two women _ had been confirmed, while confirmation of the freeing of the other three had been delayed due to the long distance they had to travel. However, he said they were handed over to officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). [read full article]
Now, another long drama of words and worldviews will ensue. Korean officials also agreed to order all Christian missionaries out of Aghanistan by this Friday as well. As a Christian pastor, I have incredibly conflicted feelings over this matter but will post more on this later. The political implications are also potentially far-reaching as well.
Even in the recent days, I’ve read much criticism of both the [Korean] Christians Missions on their purported recklessness on this relief aid trip [which I sought to debunk in earlier posts] as well as the Korean government for caving into the demands of the Taliban. Will there be escalating political ramifications? Will the Taliban be empowered to further their tactics in similar manners?
These questions are legitimate questions but I’m frustrated by the continual references to the 23 Korean Christian Relief group as the perpetrators in this entire ordeal. They are NOT the perpetrators. When have they stopped being the victims of a grave human rights violation? While they had an agenda [simply by their faith in Jesus], they went to Afghanistan to help the people of Afghanistan. The church that commissioned them had invested significant funds to help build a hospital and other elements of infrastructure.
Let’s not forget the real perpetrators in this ordeal – the Taliban. They’ve managed to get the Korean officials to agree to withdrawing their remaining quasi-troops, order all current Korean missionaries out of the country, agree to halt all future Christian involvement, and I’m certain that they’ve walked away with loads of cash. What will the Taliban agree to? What will they pay for the brutal murders of Pastor Bae Hyung Kyu and Shim Sung Min? How is the global community holding them accountable?
Again, my prayer is that something like this doesn’t discourage people all around the world – regardless of their religious views- to pursue a desire to DO GOOD and help fellow humanity. It is my prayer that this doesn’t discourage Christian missionaries around the world to pursue their convictions in both communicating and demonstrating the gospel and grace of Christ.
There is much to be learned here so may we learn together. For now, I’m so thankful that the remaining hostages are all freed now. During this ordeal, I was hopeful and prayerful, but I honestly had my doubts so this outcome is amazing and an answer to many prayers lifted up by the larger Church and global community. Soon, they’ll all be back home to enjoy their loved ones [and the barrage of media and public overdose and scrutiny].
My condolensces to the parents, wife, children, and other family members of Pastor Bae Hyung Kyu and Shim Sung Min. May these two not be forgotten…