Tuesday, December 29, 2009


Robert Park, a man from Arizona who is of Korean ancestry, walked across the frozen river which divides South Korea from the totalitarian, Godless North Korean police state. Apparently he is now in custody of their state police. How crazy is that?

Why did he do this?

Park reportedly carried a letter addressed to Kim and other leaders calling on them to repent.

“I proclaim Christ’s love and forgiveness towards you today. God promises mercy and clemency for those who repent,” Park said in the letter, which was made public Saturday.

Reaction from around the world is nearly unanimous: Park is "stupid"--he is "deranged"--he is "suffering from a martyr complex"

I've not seen any positive view of his actions, even from the "church world" Understandable, in that his actions certainly are not in keeping with the methodology of the modern "church"

Now, I do not know Park at all; never heard of him until he did this deed. I have no idea of his mental state; I have no idea of his theology. He might be a deranged person. He might be a heretic. He might believe in common-cup communion or trine immersion. It's possible that he's on the wrong side of the "supra vs infra" argument.

So, I'm really not talking about Robert Park, per se, but more of Robert Park as a "type" of Christian. This type is so rare as to be unrecognized by the very church which he serves. Allowing that there are a few exceptions, I stipulate that, he is completely out of character for a 21st century Christian.

He is a throwback to the Book of Acts. He is behaving as if he takes literally the commandments of Christ: things like Luke 9:23. He has read Matthew 24:9 and is undeterred. He acts as if Paul's stirring declaration that "to live is Christ, to die is gain" is literally true.

Why does he not just settle down in Arizona and act like a normal Christian? You don't see the rest of his congregation jumping on planes and flying to Korea to join him across the river, do you?....or Christians from any other congregation. Well, they're different.....they're not like him.

The difference is: he has a burden. Burdens are something normal Christians take great pains to avoid. Those things are not called "burdens" for nothing.....they are a real nuisance, a disrupter, yea a destroyer of our comfortable life. Congregations love to sing "Jesus Saves"....."we have heard the Macedonian call today...." Singing it is fine....just don't get carried away!.......like Paul did:

And a vision appeared to Paul in the night: a man of Macedonia was standing there, urging him and saying, "Come over to Macedonia and help us." And when Paul had seen the vision, immediately we sought to go on into Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to preach the gospel to them. (Acts 16:9-10)

See, when Paul heard the Macedonian call, "immediately we sought to go...." That's where the "crazy" part comes in. Paul and his team went...they didn't just make up a song about it......they went! They went because they had a vision, a burden; they went because the love of Christ constrained them. They went because the knowledge of perishing souls was more than an intellectual concept to them; it was a matter of heart.

So, Robert Park has a burden for the people of North Korea. He has gone. He might lose his life in the bargain. Just for a moment, let's imagine what could happen if the church had a burden. Imagine now that 100 Christians were burdened by God for North Korean souls......and they followed in Park's footsteps across that river.....and the authorities take them and do whatever they do to folks who come into that country with Bibles and Gospel tracts and the Word of God in their hearts.

And 100 who heard the call are swallowed up......but God is not finished. Following the 100, come 1000 or 10,000 with a burden for lost souls, led by the Spirit of God. Imagine an Army of God marching across that river singing "Jesus Saves"...sung by those who have really heard the call! Imagine a local congregation, maybe like yours, with a $3 million budget and a thousand members, responding to the call by saying: We'll go! Three chartered 747's filled with all the membership, flying to Seoul, busing to the river bank, marching across under the Banner of the Gospel......

Yeah, wild idea......vivid imagination. Never happen. Why? Is God not calling? Does He not care for North Korean souls? ...or those in another equally "dangerous" place? As Spurgeon said, He called. He called, but men ignore Him. We don't want to hear it. We do not care for their souls. We love to make the appropriate noises, to go through the motions, but when it comes to laying our life on the line, we are staying here where it's safe and comfy and warm.

"If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel's will save it. "
(Mark 8:34-35)