|Pastor Kenneth Bae
When I first heard his name on the news back in November 2012, I was in denial that this was THE Kenneth Bae that I knew and served with so many years ago.
“No…it can’t be…it must be someone else.”
Alas, no amount of denial could change the fact that this man was indeed THAT Pastor Kenneth Bae.
To most people who have at least heard of the situation, this man is just another U.S. citizen that has been detained in North Korea for the past 5+ months, charged with crime against the nation in which he is detained. In true North Korean fashion, these “crimes” have not been defined, but news outlets speculate that it has something to do with Pastor Bae feeding and taking photos of starving North Korean children.
Some people will comment on such articles, stating that he was being stupid (“Why go there?”)…or greedy (via his job with a tourist agency in China)…or nothing more than a pawn that could be sacrificed (as we stay the course on these political sanctions on the North Korean regime).
But to me, this man is NOT just a pawn…and he was not being stupid or greedy. Pastor Kenneth Bae is a man who followed God’s call to serve and love those in need. Pastor Kenneth especially had a heart for children – to see them come to know God and give God all love, honor, and praise (which is why I believe reports about him feeding and taking photos of starving children).
To the world, it will seem to be foolishness and idiocy to go into a nation hostile towards outsiders…even to feed staving children (after all, according to one commenter, “We have hungry children here! Why not just feed them?”…as if having hungry children here negates the fact that there are children starving there with even LESS hope of assistance than those in the United States). But just because it looks like foolishness to us doesn’t mean it IS foolishness. It is an act of sacrifice – an offering if you will. Pastor Kenneth poured out his very freedom and life for the sake of those God had given him immense compassion for…and I’m sure he counted the cost of doing so. Still, in the face of persecution and imminent danger, he followed the call.
If anyone is to understand Pastor Kenneth’s plight, it would be the Apostle Paul. For the sake of the Gospel, Apostle Paul suffered much persecution.
Are they servants of Christ? I am a better one—I am talking like a madman—with far greater labors, far more imprisonments, with countless beatings, and often near death. Five times I received at the hands of the Jews the forty lashes less one. Three times I was beaten with rods. Once I was stoned. Three times I was shipwrecked; a night and a day I was adrift at sea; on frequent journeys, in danger from rivers, danger from robbers, danger from my own people, danger from Gentiles, danger in the city, danger in the wilderness, danger at sea, danger from false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many a sleepless night, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure.
But despite the pain and suffering Apostle Paul endured, he stayed the course and put his trust and hope in the promises of God…and all that He has in store for His own.
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.
I am NOT saying that Pastor Kenneth being imprisoned and sentenced to hard labor (and probably daily torture) in North Korea is good, much less something I want him to endure for any period of time. I am constantly in prayer for his protection and quick release. It is not a situation I would wish upon ANYONE in ANYWAY. My heart breaks for him, and the anger I feel over the injustice of this whole situation is almost crippling.
Almost…but not completely…because I know I believe in a God who works all things for good.
And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.
While it’s a “good” that Pastor Kenneth, I, or anyone else can’t see or even begin to fathom at the moment (something we will better understand when our time in this world is over), those who trust in the Lord can lean upon the promise that this too is a situation that God uses for the ultimate good. In that, I find some comfort and hope that God’s got this under control…and that He is still with and sheltering Pastor Kenneth from anything too great for him to handle.
For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.
So despite the intense sorrow that flows from this heart of mine,
I can still say I am thankful for the hope I find in the promises of God.
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Please pray for Pastor Kenneth Bae and his family. Here are some of the more specific prayers that have been flowing from my heart, in case they will help in your prayers.
- Prayers for protection over Pastor Kenneth – that God would not allow those who persecute him to even touch his faith and hope in God
- Prayers for his release – that God would rescue him from his persecutors
- Prayers for comfort – may Pastor Kenneth continue to find peace, hope, and love in the arms of Christ
- Prayers for his family – God would shelter, comfort, and provide for Pastor Kenneth’s family in this time of crisis
- Prayers for redemptive Glory – that God would redeem good from such evil, and that all glory and honor and dominion would belong to our God