There’s something powerful about a parent’s love for their child. A father’s love or a mother’s love. For me, as a father of three, I understand. When they hurt, I hurt. When they’re sick, I wish I could be sick instead of them. When they mourn, I mourn. When they celebrate, I rejoice with them. It’s the heart of a father and mother.
If you’ve been reading my blog, you know the story of a man named Kenneth Bae. Kenneth has been detained in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK – also known as North Korea) since Nov. 2012. Kenneth is a tour operator and in the past has served as a Christian missionary. As I wrote in an earlier post, here’s a recap of his situation.
While we can speculate about the political nature or agenda that North Korea may have to use him as a “pawn,” Kenneth was sentenced to 15 years of hard labor because he was charged for committing “hostile acts to bring down the government” and “planning anti-North Korea religious activities.”
He was charged – in essence – for being a Christian. He was charged for taking his faith in Christ to heart. He was found guilty of wanting to share God’s love with those in North Korea. He was charged for being faithful to the convictions that God had placed upon his heart.
He was charged – officially – for wanting to bring down the government because like other missionaries or tentmakers, he spoke and preached at some of his sponsoring churches in the United States and prayed for a future day when the walls of North Korea would come down so that the Gospel may flourish. He said these things and they were recorded on videos and published onto respective church websites…and they were likely used by North Korea and their case against him. [full post]
You want to go where?
Several weeks ago, Mrs. Myunghee Bae – the mother of Kenneth Bae – and her daughter, Terri, (Kenneth’s younger sister and only sibling) shared of Mrs. Bae’s desire to go to North Korea to visit her son. My initial response as a pastor and someone that’s been seeking to advise them was:
“Are you sure?”
“How about your safety?”
I even asked the blunt question: “But at your age…?”
Both Terri and I had our questions and reservations – especially for her safety. There are so many unknowns and so much unpredictability with the government. Seriously, asides from Dennis Rodman, how many people can say that they’ve been able to go to visit North Korea for these kind of reasons?
…But then again, I understand.
It’s the heart of parent…the heart of a mother or father. In this case, the heart of a mother. She shared with me how much she longed to see her son; She’s only seen these difficult images of her son since he began serving in the labor camp and then the shocking video released by North Korea that showed that Kenneth had lost over 50 pounds and were facing health issues. He’s seen been hospitalized.
“As a mother, I worry endlessly about his health, and I want to see him and comfort him and hold him in person,” she said. “I miss him so much.”
Yes, I understand. It’s the heart of a mother longing to see her only son; to be able to encourage him; to say to him, “I love you” and to remind him that he isn’t forgotten; to remind him that thousands of people are praying for him.
No, it doesn’t make rational sense but it makes perfect sense if you understand the heart of a parent…the heart of a mother.
And so, Mrs. Bae, requested to see her son and North Korea granted her permission and a visa to visit. I’ve known of this for several weeks but her family along with various advisers had chosen to wait to share this news until after she entered North Korea so as to not impede her entrance.
Well…as of today…she is in North Korea and the plan is for her to spend about 5 days in North Korea.
And now, I ask that you would join me in praying for her safety, well-being, and her safe return. Please share this with others. Please share this with your church community. As I shared previously:
The Church cannot forget Kenneth Bae. We cannot forget the Kenneths, the Yousef Nadarkhani’s, the Pastor Saeed Abedini’s, and the thousands of other Christians around the world that are persecuted for their faith in Christ. They are our brother and sisters. While governments, media, and the citizens of their countries may forget them and even mock and criticize them…the Church must not forget.
We must fight for them.
We must advocate for them.
We must pray for them.
We must work and pray boldly for their release.
“Please release my son.”
Make no mistake. Her purpose is not only to see her son but she has shared with us that she intends to speak to anyone and everyone who is willing…to ask for the release of her son. Who in their right mind would enter of their own free will into a country like North Korea and ask the respective authorities: “Please free my son” ?
It doesn’t make sense…
unless you understand the heart of a mother, the heart of a father, the heart of a parent.
Mrs. Bae: We are praying for you. Please be safe. We’re praying for your safe return. We continue to pray for your son…and for his release some day. We pray that it will be sooner than later. I deeply resonated with these words from Terri Chung who attends Quest Church and is the younger sister of Kenneth:
“My mother and I are realistic. We know that it’s a very longshot. But we love Kenneth and we have been praying and working for his release from the day we discovered he was detained. Am I hopeful about my mother returning with Kenneth? Realistically, I know the chances are minimal but I still cling to the possibility because that’s what hope does….and we haven’t given up hope. That’s what hope in God does…and we haven’t given up on God.”
With the help of some friends, we filmed this video in preparation to share with the global community once we received confirmation that she has safely entered North Korea:
photo 1: Mr. and Mrs. Bae at Quest Church during the prayer vigil for their son, Kenneth. Photo by Seattle Times.
photo 2: Mrs. Bae and Terri Chung (Kenneth’s sister); photo by David Ryder
Update: Mother and son reunited this morning in North Korea. Photo Credit: Mun Kwang Son, AP