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Wednesday, September 19, 2012

St Andrew Kim and the Korean Martyrs

As we celebrate the feasts of the Korean martyrs, it is a good time to pray for Korea, a country that remains divided over ideological lines. Unfortunately, like many countries struggling to maintain their independence and values, Korea had had a long history of division. Until 1883 it lacked religious freedom, a prohibition that led to the deaths of Andrew Kim and his companion martyrs, 92 of whom were lay people.

What must it be like to live in a divided country?  When the Berlin wall was toppled in 1989, many touching but painful stories of families living on both sides of the wall without any means of communication emerged. Anna Kaminsky left her baby in Berlin to visit her fiance in Sweden. The next day the wall went up and left her with a terrible choice. Because her fiance, a writer, was an enemy of the state, she could not return to East Berlin with him, but if she stayed in Sweden she would not be able to visit her son. Pregnant with her second child, a daughter, Anna returned to East Berlin to raise her children, a choice that prevented her new born daughter from ever meeting her father who died before the wall came down.

No doubt there are many stories like this unfolding in Korea today. Although we live a world of email and cell phones, the more than 22 million people in North Korea are cut off from the 48 million people who live in the South. Families and friends in both Koreas cannot visit one another, celebrate birthdays or mourn deaths. How awful.

Today, pray for those who live in refugee camps and others without the freedom to see their families.

How do you manage the painful divisions in your family and our church?

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