Improvised Threat vs. Intentional Prayer

The major news story of this week is the heightened tension between our country and North Korea. The escalating rhetoric of the leaders of both nations is characterized by the apparently improvised "fire and fury" statement of President Trump followed by the North Korean leader's threat to target Guam with ballistic missiles. All this comes during the week commemorating the 72nd anniversary of the only use of atomic weapons in history - August 6, 1945 bombing of Hiroshima and the August 9 bombing of Nagasaki. The unparalleled horror and loss of life 72 years ago should remind both nations of the unacceptable cost of a nuclear attack. Amid all the hostile rhetoric and fear of this week, I want to share the words of Korean Christians who point us to an alternative - prayer for peace and reunification. The following prayer lifts up the history of conflict between South and North Korea and calls for both repentance and healing. We need to listen to these disciples of Jesus and follow their example of trusting in God rather than in rhetoric and weapons: 

2017 North South/South North Joint Prayer for Peaceful Reunification

God of grace!

Once again, we greet the month of August, the month of Independence where North and South still celebrate separately and remember it differently. It has been a long, harsh period, one with cruel struggles between the two countries. No longer are we oppressed by Japanese forces, but our people are still filled with contempt for each other and our country is still challenged by neighboring forces. Lord, pity us.

God who rules history,

For the last 72 years, we dreamed of being one, but we lived like foes, not living up to our dreams. We lived separated from our family and torn apart by different ideology and systems. Lord, bring the history of our people together with your holy hands. Let us hope for unification with passionate hearts and work together so fervently that we shed the sweat of hope. For every August we encounter, help us sincerely repent with our hearts, and fill us with a strong will for unification.

God who leads peace,

Lord, we speak of one people, one sisterhood/brotherhood while filled with hatred against each other. We have violated the spirit of the Inter-Korean Basic Agreement, the June 15 Joint Declaration, and the October 4 Joint Declaration and also firmly locked the doors of the Keumkang Mt. and Gaeseong Industrial Complex. Thus, we were left with a greater danger and greater threat. Lord, listen to our desperate cries that thirst for peace.

God who gives hope,

Lord, help us to dream once more of a beautiful land where no joint-military exercise is needed. Let us welcome a new world where we are not interfered with or challenged by neighboring strong powers. Let us once again begin with the same overwhelming determination we had as of August 15, 1945. Please quickly open the doors of intercommunication and let us walk hand in hand for joint prosperity. Lord, let the North and South greet each other without prejudice. Help us newly begin a history of reconciliation and embracement on this land.

God of grace!

Bestow your grace upon the whole of Korea. Shine down pure rays of peace from Baekdu to Halla, and wet the entire land with showers of joy. Give happiness to the 80 million fellow Koreans throughout this land and this world, and guide them to be leaders of their own lives. Bring our strengthened community to be servants of the world.

God of Peace, we pray in Jesus name.

August 15, 2017

National Council of Churches in Korea           Korean Christian Federation

I had the privilege of visiting South Korea last October as the guest of Korean brothers and sisters in Christ. I spent my time there in and around the city of Seoul. Although they live in very close proximity to North Korea, a nation with whom they are still technically at war since the 1950's, my hosts emphasized that they see North Koreans as separated family rather than as mortal enemies. To conclude this post, I want to share a few pictures from that visit so that we focus on the image of God in each other and commit ourselves to following the way of Jesus in the spirit of the prayer of our Korean sisters and brothers in Christ.