Sunday, September 02, 2007

Anger Back Home

NYT reported When 19 South Koreans return home on Sunday after six weeks in Taliban captivity, they will face a nation relieved that the hostage ordeal is finally over, but also increasingly angry at their decision to travel to Afghanistan despite government warnings and at what many here consider overzealous proselytizing by Korean churches.
Where is "here"? Seoul, New York, or Afganistan?
Until their release, criticism of the 19 Koreans, all from Saemmul Presbyterian Church, had been tempered by fears that they might be killed. Now that they are free, a negative reaction is building, with people demanding an accounting of who is to blame for the crisis that some feel damaged South Korea’s reputation.
The Taliban is to blame.
“I expect cannonballs of criticism flying at churches for causing such a disturbance, for squandering national energy and money,” said the Rev. Kim Myung-hyuk, president of the Korea Evangelical Fellowship. “This is a good opportunity for Christian-bashing in a society that has been frowning upon churches.”
So you have the same problem with secularists that we have.
The criticism of the hostages, and of missionary work in Islamic countries, including Afghanistan, has been especially vitriolic on the Web, but newspapers’ editorial pages have also expressed the feeling that the entire country has been, in a sense, held hostage since Taliban insurgents on July 19 kidnapped 23 South Koreans — the 19 just freed and four others. The nation was bombarded for weeks by frightening news reports about repeated Taliban promises to kill everyone and about their eventual killing of two. Two other hostages were released Aug. 13.

Critics seem especially outraged that their government was put in what they believe was a no-win situation, forced to enter talks with a terrorist group despite international objections. Debate on that issue is likely to intensify now that the Taliban is alleging South Korea paid them more than $20 million, which they said would be used for more suicide attacks, according to Reuters.
It certainly will mean more kidnappings, because South Korea just showed it was a good way to make money.
The Korean government has denied such a deal. “How much national resources have been spent on these 23 crazy people?” said one typical posting on the popular Internet site dcinside.com. “Proselytizing in an Islamic country?
Jesus said Go into all the world and preach the good news to all creation.. He did not say except in Islamic countries.
They prayed for their own death.
Actually they prayed for Afgan souls.
I wonder why the government negotiated for their sake to begin with.” And Shin Yong-gug, secretary general of the nonprofit group People’s Association of Religion Critics, said, “Most consider this a man-made disaster sown by Korean churches’ indiscriminate zeal to proselytize and their disregard for safety.”
be they feel their souls, and those they might save, are more important.
MaySouth Korea — which is about 30 percent Christian — has become the second-largest exporter of missionaries, after the United States, with almost 17,000 in 170 countries.

Although concerns about missionary work in Muslim countries have been especially pronounced since the remaining hostages were released this week, questions about Korean churches’ zeal to spread their faith in such places have been quietly growing in recent years. Critics have feared that trying to spread Christianity among Muslims shows a disrespect for local culture.
And we certainly would not want to disrespect that.
The Korea Times, an English-language daily in Seoul, said in an editorial in its weekend edition: “The Protestant churches need to stop their hitherto egocentric and unilateral missionary style of pushing for their own religion, without respecting the specific different beliefs and cultural characteristics of those whom they intend to convert.”
They should take those factors into consideration in forming their message, but they still should provide the message.
Saemmul Presbyterian Church and the South Korean government insisted that the hostages had not been proselytizing, just providing aid. But many religious experts here consider such a distinction meaningless, because Korean churches provide aid in order to gain converts.
So they should not help people who need help?
South Koreans have generally had warm feelings about missionary work — or at least the work of missionaries here. Although Koreans generally bristle at reminders of the many years their country was controlled by or under the sway of foreigners, American evangelists who came here in the late 1800s are remembered for their contributions. They built some of the country’s oldest hospitals and universities, and Christian pastors fought for democracy during past dictatorships.

Still, as South Korea’s Christians have become more focused on spreading their faith, there has been growing discomfort in this country, whose roots are Confucian and Buddhist. These days, church vans mounted with loudspeakers sometimes race through the streets of Seoul, broadcasting their message, and sign-carrying proselytizers often weave through subway crowds yelling, “If you don’t believe in Jesus Christ, you will go to hell.”
I hope they did not do that in Afganistan.
All major church groups have apologized for the Afghan crisis and vowed to rethink their way of proselytizing. And as part of the deal to release the hostages, the South Korean government promised the Taliban that it would prevent missionaries from traveling to Afghanistan.

1 comment:

Philip said...

Great reflection. I have been amazed at how touchy Christians have been in regards to pointing out the flaws of the Korean Christians in Afganistan.
www.everyhomeachurch.blog.co.uk