Churches globally support South Korea, pray for peace
Churches across the world and in South Korea are praying for peace even as they protest against the recent attack by North Korea of a South Korean island which left four people dead.
Rev. Des van der Water, general secretary of the Council for World Mission, in a letter to the Presbyterian Church of Korea, said the CWM shares the sentiments of international leaders, global ecumenical and world church communities in deploring the unprovoked attacks by North Korea against the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, Ecumenical News International reported.
The CWM letter said, “We regret this loss of life, injuries, and terror experienced by people on the island and join our voice with all who are praying that this latest incident does not escalate into major conflict and war in the region,” according to ENI.
North Korean military fired artillery at Yeonpyeong island, killing two soldiers, two civilians, injuring 15 others, and destroying homes and shops, according to ENI.
Separately, Henriette Hutabarat Lebang, general secretary of the Christian Conference of Asia sent a letter to its church members in South Korea saying, “We earnestly hope that there will be a peaceful solution to this tension so that the people of South and North Korea will be able to live without fear,” ENI reported.
Father Baptist John Kim Hun-il of the South Korean Catholic Church’s aid committee to North Korea told Christian Today, “Aiming at civilians and civil houses is inhumane and it can cause further tragedy,” even as he asked the South not to retaliate, and urged the North to cease further attacks.
Father Johannes Kim Yong-hwan, chancellor of the Diocese of Incheon which includes Yeonpyeong appealed for dialogue between the two Koreas. Rev. Kim Woon –Tae of the Christian Council of Korea said he is praying for peace, cooperation and stability, Christian Today said.
According to Continental News, Open Doors has also called for prayers for Christians in both South and North Korea amid escalating tensions.
Worst escalation of violence
Earlier this year, North Korea torpedoed and sank a navy vessel from South Korea. However, the attack on Yeonpyeong is viewed as its worst violent attack since the 1953 armistice between the two Koreas, Continental News reported.
According to Continental News, the aggressions from North Korea come as Kim Jong-Il recently anointed his son, Kim Jong-un as his successor. The attacks, it says, is a way for Jong-un to show strength and extract much-needed aid and concessions.
North Korea would like to create “a sense of urgency for the Six-Party Talks,” to discuss a peaceful solution which is vital for the North’s survival, even as it is anxious about military exercises by the U.S. and South Korea, Continental News said.
For the last eight years North Korea has topped Open Doors’ World Watch List of countries where Christians are most severely oppressed. There are some 400,000 Christians in North Korea, Continental News said.
President Barack Obama said the U.S. stands “shoulder to shoulder” with South Korea. The two countries are slated to begin military exercises soon, Christian Today said.
North Korea has warned that there will be more attacks if South Korea should provoke it. ENI said that South Korea plans to beef up its military on five islands near North Korea.