Thursday, December 31, 2009

Robert Park - A Modern Telemachus?

We need to pray for Robert Park. A professing Christian, the twenty-eight year old Korean-American from Arizona crossed the Tumen River into North Korea on Christmas Eve. Unlike other Christians seeking to aid the people of North Korea, who usually are as covert as possible, Robert Park deliberately announced his crossing to North Korean border guards. He shouted in Korean, "I am an American citizen. I brought God's love." He bore with him a letter to Kim Jong Il, asking the tyrant to open his borders and end his concentration camps.

He was promptly arrested.

Far from the impulsive gesture of a starry-eyed idealist, Park's move is actually a well-calculated, incredibly brave gamble. He is creating a lose-lose situation for the North Korean leader (similar, on a much larger scale, to Cindy Sheehan's campout at President Bush's ranch). If the North Koreans execute an unarmed man who did not seek to hide his entry, they look bad. If they release him, he will not leave, and if they deport him, he will probably return.

Legend says that hundreds of years of bloodsport in the Roman coliseum were ended by Telemachus, who was so horrified by the practice that he ran into the middle of the arena crying, "In God's name, forbear!" and was promptly killed.

Robert Park has reminded us that the most powerful people in the world are the people who are not afraid to die. Let's pray that God uses his life to inspire more Christians to noble sacrifices, and to bring freedom to the people of North Korea.

Thank you, Kyle, for telling me about this story.

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