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The Martyr’s Dilemma

This just in: “Korean hostages receive medicine.”  And this on the heels of the funeral of the second martyr:

As we wait and pray for the Korean missionary hostages to be delivered from Afghanistan, a question crossed my mind – how does one know when to “let go”?

By “letting go”, I mean give one’s self up.  I don’t mean we, as the outside body,  give up praying for their freedom or that we give up the hope of their release, but for someone who is standing in the face of such evil oppression, at their very gunpoint at times, when do they decide to give themselves up, commit themselves to the fate that many of us cringe and shrink from?

There seem to be times where one should do everything in their power to run from death, as Paul did in Damascus, and then there are times one submits to it, Christ being the ultimate example of this, and Paul himself submitting later in his life. As the words of the Teacher echo, “there is a time for everything.”

When voluntarily submitted, a person’s life is the most powerful statement of faith as shown in the cases of the Civil Rights Movements and the Independence of India. Ruthless oppression cannot afford to take innocent life because the dead speak so loudly, and evil cannot quiet them. Irrational nonviolence eradicates irrational violence, albeit with a factor of time and the pursuit of truth and justice.

In the eyes of their captors, the lives of these missionaries are seen as little more than leverage, but I wonder if the hostages understand that their lives are much more weightier than that. Missions is not a defensive posture at all – rather, it is merely  the most assertive nonviolent posture.

The real dilemma for the would-be martyr is whether now is the time to pray for deliverance or for commitment.

We hope and wait, and though many of us have never seen you, oh how I love you. Be strong, be courageous –


About David Park

Christian 2nd-generation Korean American; Atlanta Georgia; more details to come.

One response to “The Martyr’s Dilemma

  1. Rob

    You asked;

    when do they decide to give themselves up, commit themselves to the fate that many of us cringe and shrink from?

    I feel that in many ways Christians going to difficult / dangerous places have to “commit themselves” to the potential sacrifice of their life before they ever arrive. That way it’s out there, on the table so-to-speak, and if it happens, it’s not a surprise and there is no resentment. I know that is my attitude anyway.

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