Those kidnapped Koreans in Afghanistan are making headlines here in Asia. The left is spinning the incident to increase anti American sentiment, but ironically most of the Islamic countries of Asia are angry at the Taliban, since kidnapping guests is against Islamic law.

But the NYTimes is annoyed at the group.
And indeed, a lot of folks wondered what the heck a bunch of Korean Christians, mainly young women, were doing in Afghanistan, offering to nurse and teach in their schools. Don’t they know it’s dangerous there?

The answer is that they were going to work as missionaries, to help the local people, as Christians have been doing for two thousand years. Yes, preaching and converting is “illegal” in Afghanistan, but they weren’t going there to preach, but to help those in need. And like many  who spend time healing and teaching in other countries, they would not preach with words:  their very presence was a way of showing the love of God to all they meet.
The two martyred pastors of that Korean group are not the first Christians to be killed by terrorists who misinterpret Islam to justify their hatred.

Kim Sun-Il, who was working in Iraq for a South Korean company when he was kidnapped and beheaded, was a devout Christian who volunteered for this work in order to be a Christian witness in the Middle East.

Most westerners don’t realize that about 30 percent of Korea is Christian, and many are eager to spread the gospel to others, including sending missionaries to non Christian Asian countries.

So ironically, while the Pope is worrying about official Catholicism in Asia, with little publicity Asians are quietly converting each other to a more vital and less rigid version of Christianity.
In another example, the Philippines prides itself in being the only Christian country in Asia, but a close look would see the revival of Christianity is not with the traditional Catholic church but with Catholic renewal groups such as the charismatic movement, the El Shaddai movement, and Couples for Christ. And Protestant Christianity is also flourishing among the middle class: originally planted by Americans but now mainly run by local pastors.

But what is rarely reported is that all these groups are active and flourishing among our two million Philippine OFW (overseas foreign workers), including over a million in various Middle Eastern countries.
Some of the Gulf states allow a few churches, but in Saudi Arabia there are none. And the scarcity of official churches mean that these Philippine Christians must worship in house churches, often run by lay preachers. Some of these lay missionaries, both Evangelical Protestant and from Catholic lay groups, are being trained in starting house churches and evangelizing. Most will stay within the foreign workers who populate the Middle East, but some plan to start a quiet outreach to non Christians in these countries, Are many converted? I doubt it. But the seed is planted, and in the long run it may or may not bear fruit.

Nor is Asian Christianity limited to Korea and the Philippines.
Spengler, the acid tongued columnist of the Asia Times notes that as Europe dechristianizes, the center of Christianity is moving east and is flourishing among the growing middle class in China’s urban areas:

Barred from churches, Chinese began worshipping in homes, and five major “house church” movements and countless smaller ones now minister to as many as 100 million Christians. This quasi-underground movement may now exceed in adherents the 75 million members of the Chinese Communist Party; in a generation it will be the most powerful force in the country.

Spengler notes two results from this: that the freedom of conscience of such Christians lays the ground work for democracy, and that many of these Christians, who are full of zeal despite persecution, plan to spread the gospel into other Asian and Middle Eastern countries.

Spengler notes there are at least two Protestant seminaries in China that are preparing men to work in Muslim countries as missionaries.

So this brings us again to those lovely Korean nurses and teachers held for ransom in Afghanistan.

The Taliban see them as foreigners to be hated, the pious Muslims see them as people of the book willing to help others in need, the NYTimes sees them as stupid Christianists putting themselves into danger, and the Left in Korea see them as just another way to promote Anti Americanism.

Ah, but Christians see them as potential martyrs and an inspiration for others to follow in their footsteps.

Christianity. It’s not just for rich westerners anymore.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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