Eugene Cho

Pray for the people of North Korea. Lord, may your light shine forth.

C0044096-Korea_at_night,_satellite_image-SPL

I’m sitting in front of my computer and I’m crying. And I can’t stop.

There’s a tidal wave of emotions. As a follower of Jesus, I’m ecstatic over Kenneth Bae’s release from jail. Many will know that he was detained in North Korea not because he was trying to topple its government but because of his faith in Christ and his love for the people of North Korea. And while many question the wisdom of going to a country like North Korea, I know that following Christ will sometimes lead us to places that might be irrational to many – even to the Church.

As a pastor, I’m overwhelmed with joy for Terri and Andy Chung, and their two daughters. Terri is Kenneth’s younger sister and their family worships at the church I lead, Quest Church. Having had numerous meetings with Terri’s mother, Myunghee, I can’t imagine how she must be feeling right now. For goodness sake, her love and devotion to her son led her to visit him in North Korea about a year ago. Just last Sunday, our church spent time hearing from Terri and praying for their family. It was emotional as we pondered his two years in captivity. Kenneth was in captivity for a total of 735 days…and tonight, they will be reunited.

And as I genuinely rejoice…

I’m reminded of what remains: a people under a brutal regime. Approximately 24.5 million people.

North Korea will always remain close to my heart. My great-grandfather was among the first to become a follower of Jesus in his village near Pyongyang. My parents were both born in what is now North Korea. My father was 6 when he fled away from the rising communist government. His stories are harrowing.

What my parents witnessed as young children were only the beginning of what has been labeled by many as one of the most oppressive governments in modern history. One can just reference the 2013 report on North Korea from the Human Rights Watch or this interview of “unimaginable suffering.” North Korea also ranks as “the place where Christian persecution is most extreme.” According to the Open Doors, approximately 50,000-70,000 Christians are imprisoned in labor camps. And that may be a very conservative number as some cite there are over 200,000 Christians in labor camps.

But the injustice doesn’t just extend to Christians, it’s pervasive:

Human rights in North Korea are severely restricted. International human rights organizations assess North Korea as a category of its own with no parallel in the contemporary world when it comes to human rights violations. Despite numerous rights being enshrined in the country’s constitution, in practice there is no right to free speech, and the only radio, television, music and news providers that are deemed legal are those operated by the government. It is estimated that between 150,000 and 200,000 political prisoners are detained in concentration camps, where they perform forced labour and risk summary beatings, torture and execution.

North Korea’s human rights record has been widely condemned, especially by Amnesty International, Human Rights Watch, the European Union and the United Nations. North Korea is widely believed to have amongst the worst human rights record in the world. The General Assembly of the United Nations has since 2003 annually adopted a resolution condemning the country’s human rights record. The latest resolution of December 19, 2011, passed by a vote of 123–16 with 51 abstentions, urged the government in Pyongyang to end its “systematic, widespread and grave violations of human rights”, which included public executions and arbitrary detentions. North Korea rejected the resolution, saying it was politically motivated and based upon untrue fabrications. In February 2014, a UN special commission published a detailed, 400-page account based on first-hand testimonies documenting “unspeakable atrocities” committed in the country. [source]

And so, as we rejoice over the amazing news of Kenneth Bae’s release and other Americans (today and recently), let’s not forget the people of North Korea.

Some day, I will return to North Korea. Some day, I will return to the birthplace of my ancestors; the birthplace of my father and mother. We still have family in North Korea…that is, if they are still alive. We do not know. In 2003, I climbed Mt. Baekdusan at the border of China and North Korea and prayed for an opportunity some day to return home. I echo that prayer again.

These are my people but I know that God has not forgotten them.
May we not forget the people of North Korea…

Lord, may your light shine forth in North Korea.
Lord, in your mercy.
Lord, for your glory.

IMG_20141108_111640

IMG_20141109_150932

Filed under:

11 Responses

  1. Dylan says:

    The US and possibly other countries had to give up concessions for the two Americans that were released, including Bae. Both Bae and the other American were arguably foolish in even going to North Korea, much less participating in activities that they knew would lead to their incarceration. North Korea is run by an evil dictatorship and regime no doubt but foolishness is foolishness.

    • David Knapp says:

      But as followers of Jesus what He commands trumps the US and any other country.

      Jesus looked like a fool when He lost His life on the cross. Why would His followers be called to anything less?

      • Sam says:

        This is something that I’ve struggled with. As a Christian, I understand Jesus’ call to go and make disciples of all nations and his command to seek to do away with injustice, break chains, and fight for the oppressed. But at the same time, we are also to use discernment and wisdom, are we not? Paul ignored the pleas of his contemporaries and went on Jerusalem anyway. He went knowing full well the consequences of his actions and accepted them. Yet, it seems hypocritical to enter N. Korea for the purpose of spreading the gospel, be captured, and then ask the US to help get you out. What will Mr. Bae do now? Is he called to witness to N. Korea or not? Will he go back? If God were to send missionaries to N. Korea, wouldn’t they go knowing full well the cost and rejoice in being worthy to suffer for Christ’s name? I hope you understand why many Americans are displeased with individuals who choose to go to a country like N. Korea and then ask for help getting out, wasting taxpayer dollars. Yes, we pray for N. Korea. Yes, we go where God sends us. And yes, even support missionaries who choose to go there. But for any missionary, I sit down and ask them: are you aware of the cost? Are you willing to lay down your life for the gospel? Do you count your life of any value compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ? If there is no question, then go, and be counted as among the righteous when you receive your reward in heaven. But if not, then perhaps we need to reevaluate where our hope lies and whether or not this is the wisest thing to do.

      • Dylan says:

        Nah, Jesus to Bae is comparing apples to donkeys.

  2. Joseph Kim says:

    Praying for this family and rejoicing with them. Thanks so much Eugene for sharing and praying for this family. – Joe K

  3. thank you for this post and for reminding your readers about the plight of Christians internationally that face persecution. praise God for his return, praying for him and his family.

  4. Dave & Claire Robins says:

    Welcome Home Kenneth! All things are possible through God. We are overjoyed for all of his family. In Jesus name!

  5. JS Park says:

    Reblogged this on J.S. Park and commented:
    As a fellow Korean-American, this is absolutely fantastic news. Prayers are still needed for the nation of North Korea.

  6. kathy b says:

    I’m just an average Christian white woman in New York City, have been praying faithfully for you Mr. Bae, now praising the Lord for His rescue of you. Continued prayers for you, your family, and all people in North Korea.

  7. Hank Song says:

    Finally some common sense thoughts from a Korean-American pastor regarding North Korea – going into North Korea is not doing missions – people, especially Christians, need to stop supporting the regime by going to North Korea. Praise God for Bae and the other Americans being released, but there are more concrete ways of helping North Koreans by working with the defectors and working to send information into North Korea.

  8. […] Bae in NK. After he came home, we prayed.” Cho, whose parents were born in North Korea, also reflected on praying for the country and its […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

stuff, connect, info

One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

Made it to 47 years old. Grateful for God's grace and all those who believed in me, prayed for me, encouraged me, invested in me, forgave me, fed me, loved me, and _____ me.

I've come a long way since my first school picture  at the age of 6 - the age I immigrated to the United States. And long way to go. You can do it, sun. Break through the clouds. I love her. Saturday morning date at Pike Market with @minheejcho. Enjoying the final day of sun before 6 months of rain and gray. Not lol'ing. Some of my moat memorable travels have been to Myanmar (otherwise known as Burma). In fact, the vision of @onedayswages began on my first visit to this country in 2006. On a recent visit, I began learning about the Rohingya people. Sadly, it has escalated to horrendous, genocidal proportions.

Thus far, about 500,000 people have been driven out from Myanmar through violence...with most going to Bangledesh...regulated to a massive refugee camp. Stateless. Undocumented. Minority groups. Dehumanized. Homes and villages destroyed. And so much more unspeakable atrocities.

Yes, it's complex and messy. It always is. But the root of this injustice as the case for so much brokeness in the world is the sin of dehumanizing one anotber as..."the other." May we see each person, including the Rohingya people, as one who is created in the image of God. It's the truth and the remedy to the incessant dehumanization that goes on in our world.

Lord, in your mercy. The obedience of discipleship which includes the work of justice is a marathon. It's long, arduous, and emotional. Be tenacious. But also take care of yourself. Create healthy rhythms. Don't burn out. We need you for the marathon. Friends, don't give up. Press on. In the midst of so much chaos in the world, may we continue to cling to the hope of the whole Gospel. May we cling unto Jesus:

Way maker!
Miracle worker!
Promise keeper!
Light in the darkness!
That is who You are!

What an encounter with the Holy Spirit at @seattlequest today. Grateful for our worship team, the gospel choir, and the Audio/Visual team. Thank you Matt, Teresita, and Chris. Please thank all the volunteers for us.

my tweets