July 30, 2007

South Koreans in Afghanistan

Posted in Reflections, Religion at 7:58 pm by egalitaria

South Koreans are held hostage in Afghanistan. One pastor has been shot dead. Churches all round the world are praying for their safety and lives. No doubt it is wrong for this sort of injustice to take place. No person’s life should be held at gunpoint with no fair trial, no fair judgement, and so on. It is a violation of a human right.

Edited: I acknowledge the South Koreans were there on a medical mission, to help in hospitals and not necessarily “preach the gospel” as it is conventionally known. It is my earnest desire, and that of many others as well, that the Gospel truly encapsulates exactly this – helping and giving aid where needed, showing love, care and mercy, and justice to all alike. I affirm their role as care-givers in reflecting their Creator’s concern. 

However, my personal opinion is that Christians should seriously rethink their mission of “spreading the Word”. To most non-Christians this process is seen as a negative one, a proselytisation and encroachment upon others’ belief systems. I for one do not believe in shoving religion down anyone’s throats. I spoke yesterday at a church, saying that we need to desperately move beyond this whole system of 1-2-3 step salvation, passport evangelism that will get you into heaven.

Yes, I care about the South Koreans in Afghanistan and yes, my heart grieves for the 22 of them left there. I pray that the negotiation process will go well, between the two Governments. (South Korea is sending a delegation over as we speak)

But please, my heart grieves and bleeds more seriously for the misinterpretation of religion today. If we are going to change anything, it has to be the way we look at things. Paradigm shifts.



  1. Soo Inn said,

    Hi Tricia,
    I am really sorry that I missed your talk at CDPC. After preaching at another church I was really konked out.:)

    I fully agree that we shouldn’t shove religion down any body’s throat. And God knows Christians have been guilty of insensitive evangelisation.

    As for the group of South Koreans now held captive by the Taleban, do we have any evidence that they were guilty of insensitive evangelisation? The little I know is that they were involved in medical missions.

    However if we hold the bible to be true and authoritative, we cannot deny that there is clear teaching that we should share the message of Jesus Christ with others.

    And he said, “Yes, it was written long ago that the Messiah would suffer and die and rise from the dead on the third day. It was also written that this message would be proclaimed in the authority of his name to all the nations,* beginning in Jerusalem: `There is forgiveness of sins for all who repent.’ You are witnesses of all these things.
    (Luke 24:46-48 NLT)

    There is nothing here about shoving the gospel down any body’s throat of course. But there is a message to be proclaimed. And in any multi religious context that means respectful dialogue.

    I think the most powerful way that we proclaim this message is by living it out. Christians should be so different that people will want to know more about the message that transformed us. Among other things, Christians should be at the forefront of caring for the poor and the downtrodden, speaking up for those who can’t speak up for themselves and working for justice and compassion in society. Here the evangelical church in Malaysia has not done well.

    I am therefore very glad that there is a new generation of folks like you at the forefront of the agenda for justice and truth.

    However, I still believe that the church is called to proclaim the gospel by life and by word. May we be found faithful in both.

  2. egalitaria said,

    Hi Soo Inn, thanks so much for your comment. I was asked yesterday about role models and although I said at the time that this journey has been very much my own, I forgot to mention some key role models! So allow me to state them here:

    1. Soo Inn
    2. Alvin Ung
    3. KJ John
    4. Sivin Kit
    5. Ong Kian Ming
    6. Hwok Aun
    7. Sherman Kuek
    8. Father Jojo
    9. Rev Wong Fong Yang
    10. Rev. Hermen Shastri
    11. Yeo Swee Lan

    These are some people who have convinced me that there is a real connection between our faith and the work we do in the world.

    Ok, back to your response. Yes, I fully agree with you actually. I was thinking about what I had written, on the way back home, and realise that of course there are principles behind a certain MESSAGE that we want to be made known to the world. This message must be proclaimed in both word and deed, and this was exemplified by Jesus – actually I wrote this in the paper, and will post it up here as well.

    Also, yes I know the South Koreans were involved in a medical mission. I would definitely like to honour their vision and mission.

    I suppose my problem is mainly that many have commented that missions have been deceptive – or at least, this is what many non-Christians perceive it to be. Helping in order to convert.

    I guess most would answer:

    Going into the field for mission work, i.e. helping the poor, impoverished etc. BECAUSE one is driven by one’s faith, and it is altruistic with no agenda. And share when asked one’s motivations for doing such work.

    But then again, I can think of many other responses to that.. what do the rest think?

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