>Reflections on something I’ve avoided

>So I know that I said I wouldn’t post again until I finished the Wright review, but I felt that I needed to express some of my reflections from watching the movie Crossing tonight.

My church partnered with OMF to host a showing of this Korean movie. It’s a dramatic movie that depicts the story of a North Korean refugee. While not a documentary, the story was crafted based on a number of true stories from several refugees. About 80 folks from my church and some surrounding churches gathered together to watch, experience, and pray. I won’t give away the plotline, but following usual dramatic Korean story-telling, the movie pulled on every heartstring in my being. I found myself fighting myself to hold in the tears. Seeing a dramatization of how so many people live in the world with no access to medicine, food, security, and basic needs left me heartbroken. The fact that it was North Koreans left me humbled.
Having lived in South Korea for two years (and most recently visiting last January), I realized how in my mind I had blocked out North Korea as another country. I had so much disdain for the country because of its leader, its political system, and international agendas. I was embarassed at what a spectacle North Korea had become in the global theater so much that I refused to let the common ‘Korean-ness’ sink in. I didn’t want to be associated with that country in any shape or form, but as I heard and watched them speak Korean, I couldn’t deny it any longer. It’s horrible what has been happening there, and it really hits home for me. I can’t help but take it personal, and maybe that’s why it’s easier to advocate for a country like Haiti or Cambodia – those are countries I can walk away from at the end of the day.
All of my emotions that night came to a climax as we prayed. For the first five minutes all I could think about was my son, Calvin. What if the son in the movie was Calvin? What would I do? What would I feel about the wealth of the South? As we prayed for the thousands upon thousands of North Koreans who have no access to medicine, regular food, simple public service, I kept seeing my son – dirty, destitute, and alone. All I could do was cry – no one should live that way especially my son. I say this not from a Western perspective – that everyone should live like we do in the West. No, I feel this from the commonness of our humanity. No image bearer should be forced to abandon his family to find medicine for a completely curable disease.
I wonder if this is what is on the heart of God when He sees the plight of North Korea. I wonder if this is what the biblical hope of justice entails – the longing that God should make the world right, that he should do away with the oppressive systems of government still holding on to their last breath as if they could alter the outcome. I wonder if a biblical hope for justice births out of the longing that image-bearers should be able to live without sickness, death, hunger, or oppression.
As we prayed that God would turn his attention to North Korea, the thought came to me that God already is. God’s already working there. The church is growing there. It’s so easy to think that we are more spiritually blessed because we have material means to worship (such thinking is tantamount to a prosperity Gospel that equates spiritual blessing with material). Not even Kim Jung-Il can keep the Spirit of God out of the country, but how would he have the church to respond? I kept thinking about all the big, resourced, and fervent churches I had visited when I lived in South Korea. I kept thinking about all the spending and consumerism of South Korean department stores. The real horror of this to me is that we have done a great job of blocking the North out of our minds. May God open the eyes of the South Korean church to sacrificially give to help out their fellow Koreans.
There’s a flood of other emotions and thoughts that I haven’t quite processed yet. In some sense, just writing this out is the first step, so you’ll have to excuse the unordered nature of my thoughts. I drove home tonight in the pouring rain with the sole thought of hugging my wife and holding my sons, and a strange thing happened. The thought of how much I loved my son led to thinking again about the plight of North Korean families just like ours. As I drove I found myself asking that God would use my sons’ lives to reach the nations. I prayed that in some shape or fashion my sons would be part of the work of God to bring hope to this nation, that they would one day see with their own eyes God’s hand in North Korea even if it were to cost me my sons themselves. It’s a scary prayer to pray, but I can think of no safer place to be.

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