Korean hostage crisis
Eugene Cho continues the daily blog vigil to post updates about the Korean hostages in Afghanistan. I’ve been adding pertinent updates to the Wikipedia entry for 2007 Taliban-seized South Korean hostage crisis. The Camp David meeting between President Bush and Afghan President Hamid Karzai did nothing to resolve the crisis. As this crisis goes into the 19th day, I feel the seeming limitedness of the work of advocacy that does so much require much perseverance and persistence. Kudos to Eugene for staying the course.
[update 8/10] On Friday 8/10 at 4:00pm local time, the first face-to-face talks started! Two top Taliban leaders and four South Korean officials are meeting at the office of the Afghan Red Cross in Ghazni, along with four members of the international Red Cross. Breaking news updates at AP. For best news sources — see my post on Korean hostages held by Taliban in Afghanistan. Boston area church holds Urgent United Prayer Meetings For Korean hostages in Afghanistan.
But perhaps the Taliban’s beastly attacks upon unarmed Christians deserve more attention than any carelessness by the Korean sojourners. Christian missionaries across the centuries, dating to the age of the Apostles, have long been careless about their safety, often to the point of martyrdom. Most especially, church groups in the West might be expected to express more outrage over the abduction and murder of their fellow Christians, 18 of whom are women.
To date, groups such as the National Council of Churches in the U.S. have said nothing publicly about the outrages. Neither have most mainline denominations. The news service of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), without publishing any comments from its own denominational officials, felt obliged to report about the Korean Presbyterian Church’s own prayerful appeal about the hostages.
Perhaps many of the world’s churches are praying very quietly for the Korean Christian hostages. But at least in the U.S. and in the West, church officials are saying very little. The Swiss-based World Council of Churches issued a cryptic statement that declined even specifically to finger the Taliban as the killers and kidnappers. Their abduction is described almost in the passive voice.
“On behalf of the fellowship of WCC member churches, please be assured that we are praying in earnest for the 23 Koreans who are held hostage in Afghanistan,” wrote a WCC official to the Korean Presbyterians. “Their abduction on 19 July and the pending threat of their execution have shocked many people around the world.”
In fact, the Taliban’s murders and abductions, given its brutal history, are certainly not that “shocking.”
“As negotiations between the Taliban and the South Korean government continue, we pray for the immediate release of those being held, for their reunion with their families and for true peace in Afghanistan. We pray also for the Afghan President Hamid Karzai, that through his help, negotiations may be strengthened.“
The WCC pronouncement is tepid and refers to the “negotiations” between the Taliban killers and the South Korean government almost as though it were a labor contract at issue. When Christians are being brutalized specifically because of their faith in Jesus Christ, might not church officials, even those based in Geneva, be a little more spiritually expressive?
After two millennia of martyrs and persecution, the Christian Church is not inexperienced as a victim of targeted brutality. These latest outrages by Islamist fanatics in Afghanistan might merit at least a Scripture citation and some bold words of divinely-inspired encouragement. Instead, the WCC spoke like a low level U.S. State Department official who is working the night shift.
The mercurial politics and convoluted theology of Western church officials contrasts with the simple faith that transported the Korean Christians to Afghanistan. Their suffering may not deeply touch politically correct hearts in the West. But their suffering is heard in far more important quarters, on earth, and above.
[update 8/07] According to this ASSIST News article, Korean-Americans Rally for Release of Hostages:
Several dozen Korean-Americans rallied Monday outside United Nations headquarters to demand the release of 21 Korean hostages held by the Taliban in Afghanistan.
Victoria Cavaliere reporting from the Voice of America’s New York bureau, who attended the rally, stated that the protesters said there has “not been an adequate international effort to secure the hostages release.”