Archives for category: evangelism

The final seven South Korean hostages in Afghanistan have been freed and are on their way back home!

May we continue to pray for these followers of Christ, their families, their church and for those who perpetrated these evil acts. In particular, pray for their church which, although this should be a time of great joy, has been issuing apologies and has been unfairly criticized by many inside and outside of South Korea.

Much respect to Eugene Cho for cutting through the media silence and becoming a voice and advocate for these followers of Christ, for his wise insights, and for calling the Church to sincere prayer throughout the last six weeks.

Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy.

Finally, finally, there is some good news coming from Afghanistan regarding the South Korean hostages who have been held captive for six weeks. According to Yonhap News, twelve of the remaining nineteen hostages have been freed by the Taliban. The remaining seven are scheduled to be released soon. Let’s hope and pray that the rest of the group makes it home safely as well. Eugene Cho has been faithfully keeping many of us up to date on this situation; DJ Chuang and Laurence Tom have also been updating.

What a terrible ordeal these people have endured at the hands of terrorists. And, as if they have not suffered enough already, it appears that they might face criticism and controversy when they return home.

Details of the deal struck between the Taliban and the South Korean government are being disclosed. From the Yonhap News article:

Seoul, instead, has promised to pull its troops out of the war-torn country before the end of the year, as well as prohibit any South Korean Christian missionaries from entering the country, Cheon Ho-seon, a spokesman for the presidential office, said in a press briefing late Tuesday.

Many could speak with more passion and insight regarding the political reasons and ramifications of South Korea’s military withdrawal, but my concern today is the prohibition of missionaries. Understandably, because of the intensely tragic events that took place in Afghanistan, the South Korean government would want to do whatever they could to ensure the future safety of its citizens. However, I can’t help but wonder about the consequences of such a decision. I’ll save my thoughts about mission work (and my disappointment with the Western media) for another time.

For now, it is enough to celebrate the good news at hand. Today, perhaps, the released hostages and their families can begin to live and breathe once again. We can stand together in joy and relief with them. At the same time, this is also a time to persevere in prayer for those who are still being held captive.

I took my students to the Harvest Crusade up in Anaheim yesterday. Just a couple of quick thoughts:

Welcome to the Big Rock Show. I think I tend to be a lot more cynical than my students about this kind of stuff. Maybe it’s just from longer exposure to the strange world of the Christian subculture — or maybe it’s just my cold, dark heart — but I am often reluctant to go to these kinds of events. Plus, I’m getting all old and driving up two hours from SD to Anaheim really puts the hurt on me. That being said, Greg Laurie shared a great message and reached the hearts of many of our students. Although my heart is moving more & more towards the simple living of life together as God’s people, there is still a place for blowout events.

Live music is the best. Some of my students, to my surprise, were pretty stoked to see P.O.D. perform. It’s been a couple of years since they stormed the charts, but the boys from Southtown still put on an energetic, and sincere, show. My four-year old daughter really liked them. However, we were all blown away by the opening act, Leeland. Man, that kid has some pipes! Most of my students had not heard of him before Harvest, so I picked up their CD and we listened to it on the way up. For me, the album has that over-produced, CCM-ified feel to it, though I did appreciate the thoughtful lyrics right off the bat. But everything changed when we saw them perform live — the band is tight, the rhythm section really came to life in the live setting and Leeland really opened up and let loose with the vocals. They managed to segue “How Great Thou Art” and “Agnus Dei” together without being corny. In fact, they ripped it up during the instrumental breakdown of Agnus Dei. I still want to give him a haircut, though.

jc-kills.jpgThe freaks come out at night. Seriously. Check out this guy. Remember what I was saying about nasty street preacher signs? I’m pretty sure this one will be hard to top. (Apologies for the poor quality — I snapped it from my phone while trooping around the parking lot looking for our van).

I’m pretty sure he doesn’t mean “Jesus kills” as in — “Dude, Jesus totally killed it on that last song when He jumped off the Marshall stacks and levitated over the crowd.” The other signs read: “Laurie leads to hell” which I can only assume was knock on Greg Laurie — although without more specific direction, it could just be a jilted lover railing against his ex-girlfriend. Maybe it was one of those newfangled emo bands that keeps sprouting up. Who knows? You can see if you have better luck creating your very own emo band name with an emo band name generator. For real, though, if you name your band “Laurie Leads To Hell” and you make it big, I want a cut of the proceeds.

Preaching that we should always trust in God can feel kind of trite and condescending when done from the comfort of a sleepy Southern California suburb while yet another South Korean hostage has been murdered in Afghanistan. It’s bad enough that such a terrible series of events is happening, but I start to despair when the response of the body of Christ here is either deafening silence or outright hostility.  One outstanding voice has been Eugene Cho, through his regular updates and insights into this situation.

There is a time and place for critiquing and questioning this group’s purpose and methodology in their trip to Afghanistan, but now is not that time. When people are being murdered and held hostage, we should mourn, weep and pray — not stand on our comfortable soapboxes, point fingers and blame the victims.  It saddens me that a powerful voice such as Christianity Today barely mentions this tragedy — and, even then, focuses their coverage on critiquing Korean missionary efforts rather than sounding the call to prayer and solidarity.

Regardless of whether or not this particular group was there to overtly share their Christian faith, it frustrates me to hear criticisms such as, “Well, they should have known something like this would happen in such a dangerous place” or “They have no right to try to be there.”  Maybe one day I will share some of my thoughts about the shortcomings of Korean and Korean American missionary efforts, but I will say this right now — I have known many Korean missionaries who have given up very comfortable lives in order to go live in hard places, often without electricity or running water and usually without recognition or applause, simply because they are compelled by the love of God in Christ.  By the same line of reasoning many critics are following, the martyrs of Hebrews 11 should never have gone into difficult places hostile to Christ.

Lord, have mercy; Christ, have mercy.

Today I saw what looked like a father-and-son duo standing on a street corner holding up large signs that said, “Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life” and “Believe in Jesus.” They weren’t yelling or screaming, just holding up their signs for drivers to see. In fact, the teenager looked like he was kind of trying to hide behind the sign. No heavy-duty “turn or burn” messages… and certainly no mixing of gospel and empire, as depicted to the left. It takes some seriously willful ignorance not to realize the crazy ridiculousness of holding up a sign that says “Trust Jesus” along with clipart (or is it some crazy fundie dingbat that I haven’t seen yet?) of a handgun, tank, and anti-aircraft missiles. And is that a dude high-kicking in the upper left-hand corner?

Other than their theology, missiology, and methodology, the thing that drives me nuts about these kinds of signs are the fonts people use to promote their message — usually something clunky like Impact or Varsity (for that eschatological rah-rah flair). While I might not be as upset as some people are about certain fonts (Comic Sans, in particular), I believe that fonts matter. And not only to us font-nerds, but for legibility, to convey a particular ethos or vibe, and maybe even to get better grades.

It’s time to upgrade to “Repent 2.0” signs.