Lord Silence the Arrogant
Each year on the Sunday before the 15 August, The World Council of Churches remind Christians to pray for the reunification of Korea. This weekend the prayer request has an added impetus to pray for a peaceful ending to the present war of words between President Trump and the North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un. If only our leaders could tweet tears of sadness and regret for lost opportunities rather than tweet threats of terror that will, if carried out, reap a whirlwind of devastation. Some have likened the present situation to that of the “Cuban Crisis” in the early 60s. One thing is certain something has to change or we could face an even greater disaster in the North and South of Korea.
Peace loving Koreans on both side of the border have been praying for a resolution to their divided country for many years. Walk down the main street of Seoul and you soon realise that the war between the North and the South has not ended. You will see a whole stretch of pavement housing pictures of the war and explaining how at present there is simply a ceasefire between the North and the South. The pictures also tell a story of the Korean people’s gratitude to all those nations who stood by them in the early 50s to bring about a ceasefire, but it is a reminder to the United Nations that we all have a responsibility to bring the war to an end.
If you were to visit Beecraigs Country Park near Linlithgow you will find a war memorial to I think over 1000 soldiers form the UK who gave their lives to ensure democracy ruled in Korea. The dream of peace still lives on.
It was 2012, I was in Seoul, South Korea in a busy restaurant. Sitting across the table from me was a slightly built figure. His silvery grey air with a hint of black still to be seen, complimented his smart appearance. I was his guest and as we shared stories of our families, he began to tell me his story. As a young boy he had left his home in a great hurry because the invading Japanese army was coming his way. He never had an opportunity to say goodbye to his brothers and sisters and parents. He was told all would be well and that he would be back home in a few days.
On the 15 August 1945 the Korean peninsular was divided into two countries and he found himself living in South Korea. My host told me it had been nearly 70 years since he saw his brothers and sisters and parents. He then rather wistfully mentioned that on some occasions he would go to the border and look across, wondering whatever became of his family. In the next sentence he asked me to pray for the re-unification of Korea. There was no hatred for the people of North Korea, just a longing of a nation to be reunited again.
As I listened, I learned that of all the nations in the world North Korea is recognised to be among the worst offenders against Christians. Over 30,000 Christians are thought to be labouring in concentration camps. Tens of thousands of citizens, including a high percentage of Christians, have defected to neighbouring South Korea. Many people in South Korea, just like my friend, fear for the safety of family members in North Korea. Many have lost touch with family after the Korean war in the early 50s.
The results of that war still affect people on either side of the border. When President Trump speaks with much the same threatening tone of Kim Jong-un, he is only escalating the possibility of more violence and heartbreak in Korea.
Today, we in Europe face a similar issue. Thousands upon thousands of people pushed out of their country through war and intolerance. Finding resolutions to major world problems will never be solved through violence. Here is a prayer in addition to today’s Sanctuary First prayer:
Remember those who feel
Those who search for loved ones in vain
Those who wistfully remember all they have lost
We pray for those in the middle of a ceasefire
May your Spirit strive within our world leaders
To seek peace
To search with others for unity
To break down walls
To seek wisdom
Rather than wisecracks
To tweet tears rather than terror
To talk softly
And speak with integrity
To live graciously
And seek the common good
So that all may feel secure
And all the children of the world
Live in harmony.
Albert Bogle, Minister of Sanctuary First