Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Deitrich Bonhoeffer for our generation

I have long admired the courage of Deitrich Bonhoeffer in his resistance to the Nazi Germany regime and giving his life as a martyr. Bonhoeffer was safe in England and America in the 1930's and it would have been easy for him to stay, while Hitler and the National Socialist agenda attemped to destroy the Church in Germany by neutering it. Yet Bonhoeffer returned to Germany, all the while knowing that his return may cost him his life, and indeed it did.

I came across a story today about another young man who was living in relative safety, and yet chose to go into a place knowing such a journey may also cost him his life. Instead of a German pastor, this time it is a Korean American, named Robert Park. On Christmas Day 2009, Robert crossed the border between China and North Korea, where he has disappeared. When asked why he was doing so, in a Reuter's interview, Park said:

"The North Korean human rights crisis by murder rate is the worst in the world. An estimated 1,000 people a day die by starvation and starvation is a murder case. North Korea has been sent more food aid than any nation in the world but the food has not gone to the people who need it. So this is murder.But not only that, there are concentration camps in North Korea that are of the same brutality as in Nazi Germany. Responsible governments are completely silent about the issue. The United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea have a huge responsibility to speak out about this because all these nations played a role the arbitrary division of the Koreas, where not a single Korean was consulted. Yet the lives of these people are of no issue to these governments. That is a crime. It is a huge crime."

Later in the interview, Park was asked "
how can you change this? You are going in well aware of the dangers

His response:
My demand is that I do not want to be released. I don’t want President Obama to come and pay to get me out. But I want the North Korean people to be free. Until the concentration camps are liberated, I do not want to come out. If I have to die with them, I will. I am Christian and it says in the Bible that we must love the lost. We must love the poor and the needy. We must love them more than ourselves. These innocent men, women and children, as Christians, we need to take the cross for them. The cross means that we sacrifice our lives for the redemption of others.. I am going in for the sake of the lives of the North Korean people. And if he kills me, in a sense, I realize this is better. Then the governments of the world will become more prone to say something, and more embarrassed and more forced to make a statement. "

May God grant peace to Robert Park. I hope he can survive and live to see his desire for the North Koreans to know freedom. However knowing the vile evil of the Kim Jong-Il regime, I very much doubt that he will. So my prayer for him echoes what Bishop Hugh Latimer said to Nicholas Ridley -
Be of good comfort, Master Park and play the man; You may this day light such a candle, by God’s grace, in North Korea, I trust shall never be put out.