Thursday, July 2, 2009
If it seems odd that one of the most Christianized nations in the world is South Korea, consider the peninsula's crisis.
I used to wonder, how and why did South Korea become so strongly Christian? This goes back to my teens, when I went to church with one of my best friends. The kal bi was excellent! But it was much more than that. It was my first real experience being around Christians young, old and in between.
I always wondered later, how Christ came to be such a focal point in a part of the world that is otherwise Buddhist, Shinto and, further south and southwest, Hindu. The how part isn't on my mind these days. The why part, though, is clear now. The faith required to help North Koreans escape the tumult of Kim Il-Jong's regime is enormously deep. Nobody else but missionaries are willing to risk their lives to help North Koreans get across the Tumen River, then through China, all the way down to Thailand, before they can reach freedom in South Korea.
It's something I'm watching on a recent episode of Wide Angle on PBS. Crossing Heaven's Border is a mirror of the reality, the risk, the sacrifice that continues on. While some people get their kicks watching a bunch of spoiled brats act stupid on programs like The Real World, folks in places like North Korea simply want freedom so bad they'll risk being killed. It's enough to make a cynic want to cheer for the underdogs again.