Lectionary Text and Prayer for Korea: Matthew 18:21-35
We pray, Lord, that your spirit of peace will descend on South Korea, especially on the daily candlelight vigils that have been held since May as people seek to ensure their right to health. Because of inadequate safeguards in an agreement between their government and the United States, they fear they will unknowingly be served infected U.S. beef that exposes them to mad cow disease.
While exercising their constitutional right to freedom of assembly and expression, they have been beaten by the riot police with batons and police shields, blasted at close range with water cannons, sprayed with fire extinguishers. Demonstrations have become nightly battle zones between protestors and riot policemen. Thousands have been injured on both sides; some have been knocked unconscious.
In this environment, we also pray for the volunteer medical workers who treat both protesters and policemen, lawyers who offer legal assistance to those arrested, journalists who report on these violent encounters. These clearly identified human rights defenders too have been assaulted by the police.
We pray as well for the young and inexperienced riot policemen—19 to 23-year-old men conscripted to take orders on the front lines every night, to beat others and be beaten as well.
In the midst of these violent daily confrontations, your peace is absent, Lord. We thus ask for an end to this vicious discord. We remember too those who have been injured and pray for their speedy recovery.
Amid such violence and hostility, forgiveness is difficult. However, forgiveness is the path to your peace and a new environment to freely express one's views. May it be your will, Lord, that South Korea will know this peace soon. Amen.
(Prayer by Bruce Van Voorhis)
Bruce Van Voorhis is a Global Ministries missionary serving in Hong Kong with the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC), a regional human rights organization. In July, Bruce was part of a four-member fact-finding mission to Seoul that focused specifically on respect for people's freedom of expression and violence against human rights defenders at public assemblies. The one-week mission was invited to visit the country because of violent attacks by riot policemen on protesters who have held daily candlelight vigils since May 2 in response to the agreement between the South Korean and U.S. governments in mid-April to import U.S. beef. Even after the agreement was renegotiated in June, Koreans are still concerned about their health because they are afraid that there are inadequate safeguards to prevent cattle and body parts susceptible to carrying mad cow disease from entering the country as only 2 percent to 3 percent of the beef is inspected.
Global Ministries International Partners in Korea:
- Presbyterian Church in the Republic of Korea: In 1884, the first Protestant Church was built by Suh Sang-Ryun in Sorai, Hwanghae Province in what is now North Korea. Suh was a layperson who was baptized in Manchuria and returned to Korea to evangelize. One of the unique characteristics of Korean Christianity is that Koreans themselves, on their own initiative, began to translate the Gospel and build churches before foreign missionaries came to Korea. One of the most important accomplishments of the early Korean Protestant Christians was the printing of the New Testament in Hangul, the Korean alphabet, which all could read. Insightful and radical, the decision to print the Gospel in Hangul was highly significant because the grassroots people used Hangul, while the elite and the government used the Chinese alphabet. In addition schools, hospitals, orphanages, and churches were built by early Christians in Korea.The Presbyterian Church of the Republic of Korea (PROK) was the fruit of a movement to reform the Presbyterian Church to create a true church of Jesus Christ, setting aside the secular elements, authoritarianism, and rigid dogmatism so deeply rooted in the Korean Presbyterian Church. Since 1953, the PROK has continued to develop a prophetic stance in its understanding of the church and its mission in society. The PROK has many programs in place to carry out its mission. http://www.prok.org/prok_engcon/contents.htm
- Hanshin University: http://www.hs.ac.kr/english/html/sub01_03.html
- Hanul Disabled Children's Center
- House of Early Dawn
- Sungnam Migrant Workers Center
- My Sister's Place
Global Ministries Missionaries in Korea:
None at this time