Monday, August 14, 2017

The Release of Pastor Kim

A Korean Canadian pastor will be in worship with his congregation this morning and all of us should be relieved and happy to hear this.  Hyeon Soo Lim was serving a life sentence of hard labour in North Korea for alleged anti-state activities, but was released last week after intervention by the Canadian government. Lim was in a harsh North Korean prison for more than two years and during that time his health failed. His family and congregation are delighted to welcome him home. This is good news in light of the dangerous posturing and threats of the North Korean government concerning using nuclear weapons and the ham-fisted response of the American president.

I have wondered though about what Lim was doing there, given the danger for outsiders and nationals alike in this unpredictable regime. Was he engaged in Christian evangelism, or was he there to provide humanitarian support? The dictator, Kim Jong Un is a dangerous dude who has imprisoned Westerners on many occasions, some because they had come to share the gospel of Jesus Christ.

What are we to make of these efforts? There is a 2000-year history of Christian evangelism and there have been many martyrs of the faith. When I was a kid we sang a wildly militaristic chorus which has thankfully disappeared. Remember this?

Stand up, stand up for Jesus! ye soldiers of the cross;
Lift high His royal banner, it must not suffer loss:
From vict’ry unto vict’ry, His army shall He lead,
Till every foe is vanquished, and Christ is Lord indeed.

I'm not suggesting that Pastor Kim espouses these sensibilities. I just wonder what our role as Christians needs to be in sharing the Good News in the 21st century, and whether taking risks in hostile environments is productive.

All I'm sure of is that I'm grateful he's home and I do pray that he returns to health and a meaningful ministry. We can pray as well for Christians in North Korea who are persecuted for their faith.


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