An American missionary believed to be detained when he stepped into North Korea on Christmas didn't inform his parents of his plans but they had a hunch he would visit the communist nation.
"We had a sense," Pyong Park, the missionary's father, told The Associated Press late Sunday. "We told him to continue what you're doing in South Korea."
About 100 people held candles Sunday night at Palomar Korean Church in San Marcos, a north San Diego suburb, to commend Park for going to North Korea.
"Robert is doing what God called on him to do," the Rev. Madison Shockley told the crowd. "We call this speaking truth to power."
Robert Park, 28, slipped across the frozen Tumen River into the North from China carrying a letter calling on North Korean leader Kim Jong Il to shut down the country's political prison camps. There has been no word from him since.
Park's parents last heard from their son Dec. 23 in an e-mail that predicted upheaval in North Korea.
"Know that I am the happiest in all my life," his e-mail read. "Incredible miracles are happening in the liberation of North Koreans right now ... We are going to see a big and beautiful change in Korea and in the World this year!"
I find this story to be a light in an age of cynicism towards religious belief, especially Christian belief. There are many people today who view the Christian faith in scorn, who harbor prejudices towards Christians, considering them all to be Bible-thumping hypocrites and bigots, and considering their religious leaders to be either con-artists or pedophiles. In essence, there are those who view religious belief as an enemy to freedom.
This missionary breaks the mold of the Christian stereotype. In a time when missionaries are viewed in contempt, accused of forcing their religion and culture on foreigners, this missionary risked his life to enter a closed country and deliver a message of freedom—not only through human rights, but through Christ.
Only God knows the fate of this missionary. Shall he live to see his loved ones once more, or shall he die a martyr’s death? Either way, let us pray that he fulfills God’s will.