Eugene Cho

all [remaining] korean hostages are freed!

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…

Filed under: christianity, religion

20 Responses

  1. brian says:

    I have such mixed feelings. This is great news but I’m concerned like others about the political ramifications. We’ve indirectly given thugs like the Taliban another card to play with and these assholes don’t play fair.

  2. TomB says:

    How wonderful that they are free!

    Let me start the drama of words, just in case the media misses the point.

    1. How’s this for a comparison? The Christians are reckless? because they express their compassion by risking their lives to serve the oppressed … while the Taliban & their friends are not? considered reckless for flying into buildings??

    2. How’s this for a comparison? The Taliban express the passion for their God by taking hostages and killing people. The Christians express the passion for their God by expending vast resources and accepting extreme risks to show a selfless love.

  3. […] respect to Eugene Cho for cutting through the media silence and becoming a voice and advocate for these followers of […]

  4. kartikatyam says:

    I am very grateful for their release. And even though I had not been following the situation I do understand at least some of the ramifications of the release from both sides.

    In response to TomB’s second point of expending resources: The taliban/Al-Qaida/Hezbollah also say that they do all of their actions for their professed love of Allah. While I truly beleive the Koran never never does and should never be misinterpreted to beleive that it is allowed to kill innocent people in any circumstances, I also do beleive that we must be careful with our analogies and comparisons. They preform all of their actions strongly on their beliefs and go to any extent to see them accomplished and having people come to prosthelize Muslims to Christians is a woeful experiance for them.

    I personally do not agree with the missionaries choice to go to that area, especially now, but I am very happy they are back home and safe.

  5. Tonya says:

    What great news and oh, how wonderful is answered prayer!

    Thanks to Pastor Cho for keeping us abreast of the situation so we can be informed and prayerful.

  6. gar says:

    Good news, indeed…

  7. Daniel says:

    I’m happy to see their release but I also have mixed feelings.

    I have been very angry at the points of view that treats these missionaries as the perpetrators. I have also been angry at the other Christians who say that “they should have known better” than to go into such a dangerous place. I’m glad that their faith in God was stronger than their fear. I’m thankful for all the Christian missionaries in this world who choose to deny themselves and follow Christ.

    Christ is our master. Not our fears or the opinions of others. I just hope now that God heals and comforts the released missionaries so that they won’t need to feel the guilt that will surely be pushed on them from other koreans – christian and non-christian.

  8. Pat says:

    Thanks, Eugene, for keeping us informed. I’ve been praying for these relief workers, and am very thankful for their release.

  9. […] eugene cho updates michelle malkin updates news ABC News: Taliban Free Last South Korean […]

  10. paul says:

    i’m glad they’ll be home safe soon. and we should recognize the unstable political situation in that country before daring to visit or live there; but it’s disturbing that the korean gov’t had to make a promise not to let its citizens go there to help people as christians, even for medical work!
    leaving my mind aside, i feel that the two men died in vain.

  11. rolz911 says:

    Hi all.. I believe nothing is ever in vain when done for the Lord. Our two brothers were taken home and they now rest in eternal glory – Their faith tried and tested. Pray that the living will continue to be strong and courageous to love and reach out to the unlovable in a world of aghast moral decline and indifference. See you all at the end. 🙂

  12. Todd Kim says:

    Thank God for their release. Thank you PE for actively keeping on top of this situation and being a voice when it seemed so many were indifferent to what happened.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Well the word is out. The Taliban now claim a “victory” in the hostage situation and I quote: “We will do the same thing with the other allies in Afghanistan, because we found this way to be successful,” Qari Yousef Ahmadi (Taliban Spokesman).

    I hate to say this, I mean thank God that they’re safe, but this might open the door for other incidents God forbid. I think it was wise for South Korea to ban missionary activity there. If the ROK wants to help, help through NGOs who don’t carry some sort of religious message or affiliation.

    A lot of Christians don’t seem to be getting the point when I read these comments. THEY DO NOT WANT YOU THERE SO STOP COMPLAINING! If you honestly think that they’ll be damned forever for not following Christ, then whatever, their loss I guess. There’s plenty of other people in the world that need help and won’t shoot you for it. I mean if you think the Lord wants you to go and try to help others, go ahead. I hear people saying that the Iraqis and Afghans need help in the form of Christ, and that’s noble/cute, but not logical. The whole go out and convert the masses thing might be noble in concept, but the world does not work like that. Religious zeal leads to nothing but trouble, I mean look at these Taliban monsters. Their zeal actually makes them believe that shooting an innocent pastor will somehow please Allah.

    So please to all missionaries, not just Koreans, if you want to help, help in a place with people that don’t see other religions as a threat like many Muslim extremists do. I honestly don’t think it was putting God over fear, I think it was straight-up naivete and a total lack of research/security. I hate seeing young people get caught up in religious fervor. I mean it’s good that they have a mission and purpose in life through God, but to cast away common sense and to instill this sense of overwhelming duty in young people is wrong. Cut the one-upmanship garbage, because God doesn’t want churches to compete over how much missionary work they do and even to die over it. God doesn’t want advertised piety. Little does one realize how much pain a death, even if in the service of the Lord, can cause to family and friends. I feel terrible that those two were shot, but I believe them being alive could’ve served a greater purpose. Sometimes the joy you can bring to friends and family and others by being a good Christian and not being a martyr is just as good if not better.

  14. Wayne Park says:

    Anonymous, your comments are completely misinformed. As one that has worked in the missionary endeavor I promise you, we are NOT driven by “noble zeal with a lack of research”. That’s really a baseless accusation.

    Missionaries make the best linguists, scholars, researchers, anthropologists, many times better than their secular counterparts. The kind of missionary activity you propose limits missionary activity to the “safe” places, which effectively shuts down the work of the kingdom.

    we’re not talking kingdoms of ideology or “religious fervor” – I think you’ve mixed up missionaries with fundamentalists. I encourage you to re-read verses such as Matt 24:14 or Gen 12, maybe then you might rethink your position on missions? It is much more than “advertised piety” as you suggest.

    Careful also when you appeal so strongly to logic – logic is not the standard for our faith; we believe in a gospel that is “foolishness to Gentiles”. In the end I’m sorry you (and many people) feel this way; it really misunderstands what the missionary endeavor is all about.

  15. kyung chul says:

    Scripture also says:

    Jesus answered him, “It is also written: `Do not put the Lord your God to the test.'”
    Matthew 4:7

    Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear?
    Acts 15:10

    We should not test the Lord, as some of them did–and were killed by snakes.
    1 Corinthians 10:9

    Furthermore, the leadership of the Saemmul Church was compelled to be dishonest about the reasons behind the mission. They kept insisting that it was purely aid work.
    There’s something wrong when the church has to tell lies in order to keep missionaries alive when they’re in dangerous places. This further reveals that neither the church nor the members of the Afghan 23 were prepared to die for their faith. But yet somehow soft, pampered middle-class civilians, and mostly doe-eyed young women at that, wind up in the middle of a war-zone anyway.

    The Korean gov is now a multi-million dollar indirect sponsor of terrorism in Afghanistan. The Taliban has announced that they will kidnapping more foreign civilians. This jeopardizes every kind of effort in Afghanistan and makes any humanitarian work so much harder now. The Afghan people were dealt a major disservice. There is absolutely NOTHING about any of this, or what has happened, nor any of the consequences of this tragedy, that appears to be the work nor will of God.

    The people who organized and were involved in this mission trip did not take the obvious dangers of being in a war-zone in a Muslim country seriously. Instead of being discreet, they traveled in a big tour bus in the open, practically asking for it. Some of them posed for photos in front the of the gov warnings in the airport. I am almost positive that the leaders and the pastors mislead the group about the dangers involved because by the way these people behaved before they were caught, you would have thought they headed toward Disneyland. The leadership of the Saemmul Church needs to be held accountable. Church can make mistakes also and admit it when it happens and not say stupid, vague, and pointless things about the mystery of God’s will or some such nonsense.

    As an intra-Church, Christian-to-Christian discussion and debate, I say this is a wake-up call for the Church to reevaluate what it exactly means by “doing God’s work”.

  16. Bernard says:

    Woohhooo! I have been following their ordeal thru your blog, Eugene. Thanks. And thank God for His grace.

  17. […] Eugene Cho at Beauty and Depravity, who has been following the ordeal the entire time, asks some pointed questions that deserve answers: …I’m frustrated by the continual references to the 23 Korean […]

  18. Blake says:

    Praise God for their release. This IS good news!

    As far as the rest of the ramifications are concerned, God is in the habit if redeeming mistakes (if there be any) for His glory. I’ve seen it time and time again in my own life and the lives of others around me.

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One Day’s Wages

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It. Still. Hurts.
#TamirRice Incredible news: @onedayswages is projecting to have our most impactful year as we grant out $1.3 million dollars! Thank you so much for your prayers and support...please read on to learn how you can join in our work.

As you gather with family, friends, and loved ones for Thanksgiving and the holidays, I wanted to share an opportunity. Often times, when I speak to people about the privilege of generosity, I remind them, "You don't have to but you get to." It's so true.

My wife and I (and our three kids) started ODW in 2009. We felt the Holy Spirit convicting us to give up our year's salary. It wasn't an easy thing to say "Yes" or "Amen" to but we made the decision to obey. As a result, it took us about three years to save, simplify, and sell off things we didn't need.

It's been an incredible journey as we've learned so much about the heart of God and God's love for the hurting and vulnerable around the world - particularly those living in extreme poverty. ODW is a small, scrappy, grassroots organization (with just 3 full-time employees) but since our launch, we've raised nearly $6 million dollars to help those living in extreme poverty: clean water and sanitation, education, maternal health, human trafficking, refugee crisis, hunger, and the list goes on and on.

So, here's my humble ask: As we do this work, would you consider making a pledge to support our that we can keep doing this work with integrity and excellence?
You can make a one time gift or make monthly pledge of just $25 (or more). Thanks so much for considering this: (link in bio, too) Don't just count your blessings. Bless others with your blessings. Here, there, everywhere. Be a blessing for this blesses our Father in Heaven and builds the Kingdom of God.

#ReThinkRegugees #WeWelcomeRefugees
@onedayswages Grateful. Still reflecting on the letters that I've received from classmates and students that have come before me and after me. Never imagined all that God would have in store for me. Lots of humbling things but in the midst of them, there were literally thousands upon thousands of daily decisions and choices to be faithful. That's what matters. Seen or unseen. Noticed or unnoticed. You do your best and sometimes you stumble and fumble along but nevertheless, seeking to be faithful.

Also, you know you're getting old when your school honors you with a Distinguished Alumni Award. Lol. 47 is the new 27. Or something like that. Here's to the next 47. In our culture, we can be so obsessed with the "spectacular" or "glamorous." The Church often engagws in thia language and paradigm...but what if God has called many of us to small, ordinary things?

Will we still be faithful?
Will we still go about such things with great love and joy?

I recently came across this picture taken by @mattylew, one of our church staff...and I started tearing up: This is my mother; in her 70s; with realities of some disabilities that make it difficult for her to stand up and sit down...but here she is on her knees and prostate in prayer. She doesn't have any social media accounts, barely knows how to use her smartphone, doesn't have a platform, hasn't written a book, doesn't have any titles in our church, isn't listed as a leader or an expert or a consultant or a guru. But she simply seeks to do her best - by God's grace - to be faithful to God. She prays for hours every day inteceding for our family, our church, and the larger world.

Even if we're not noticed or celebrated or elevated...let's be faithful. Our greatest calling as followers of Christ is to be faithful. Not spectacular. Not glamorous. Not popular. Not relevant. And not even successful in the eyes of the world.

Be faithful. Amen. #notetoself (and maybe helpful for someone else)

At times, we have to say ‘NO’ to good things to say ‘YES’ to the most important things.

We can't do it all.
Pray and choose wisely.
Then invest deeply.

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