From a hospital in Tucson, Arizona, former North Korean prisoner Robert Park prays for the release of his friend Aijalon Mahli Gomes.
On Christmas Eve, Park crossed into North Korea in hopes of drawing attention to the Communist nation's human rights violations and persecution of Christians. Park was arrested and imprisoned in North Korea and released after six weeks.
Gomes, 31, an English teacher turned Christian activist who attended the same church as Park in Seoul, followed in Park's footsteps, crossing into North Korea on January 25. In April, the North Korean government sentenced the Boston native to eight years in a hard labor camp and fined him $700,000.
Park, who has been hospitalized several times since his February release, has not spoken about his imprisonment.
"I didn't want to cause anything to happen to Aijalon," Park told ChristianityToday in an exclusive interview. "I want him to come out first."
Amid carefully selected answers during the phone interview from the behavioral health center where he has been since making suicidal statements in July, Park prayed several times, not for himself, but for Gomes's return home.
"Father, restore Aijalon to his loved ones in America," Park prayed, his voice laced with urgency. "Show us great and mighty things through the deliverance of Aijalon Gomes."
Park's prayers may finally have been answered.
Former President Jimmy Carter arrived in Pyongyang on Wednesday, according to the government-controlled Korean Central News Agency. North Korean officials agreed to release Gomes to Carter, 85. The two are expected to return to the United States by Friday.
Carter's humanitarian visit to negotiate Gomes's release came a year after former President Bill Clinton's August 2009 visit to ...1