The 2007 Korean hostage crisis in Afghanistan was very difficult for the Korean church, but it has not stopped Christian organizations from sending workers to the country. They have come under fire, literally and figuratively, for risking ministry in an unstable and sometimes unwelcoming country.

The hostage crisis was the source of much grief not only for the leaders of the Korean church but also for Christians everywhere. After more than 40 days in captivity and the loss of two of their companions, the 21 remaining hostages were released. Saemmul Church, which sent the kidnapped workers, expressed remorse and has taken a conservative approach to missions since the crisis.

In late October 2008, a South African Christian aid worker was killed on her way to work in Kabul, Afghanistan. The Taliban claimed responsibility, saying they tracked and shot her because she was trying to spread Christianity in the country.

Sang-Hwa Lee, an editor of Christianity Today Korea, interviewed two of the key men on the Korean side of the hostage crisis a year later. Eun-Jo Park, lead pastor of Saemmul Church, and Tae-Woong Lee, director of Global Missions Fellowship and Global Leadership Focus, spoke about Christians' attitudes and the anti-missions mood pervading Korean society.

What influence do you think the Korean hostage crisis had on the Korean church and its missions?

Tae-Woong Lee (TWL): After modern missions practices began in 1792, the Western church incurred countless losses. In comparison, we have been doing missions for only 25 to 30 years with much less sacrifice, at least in terms of human life. I think that because we were unprepared and weak, God had been especially protecting us and extending this grace period of sorts.

But the ...

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