Still surprised by the lack of commentary and outcry concerning Aijalon Mahli Gomes–imprisoned by North Korea for the “grave offense” of being a Christian and entering the country without permission–I asked a colleague, who has direct access to the pulse of the South Korean Christian community, for his take on the situation. Here is the response:
Interestingly, the South Korean church has always been rather unfazed by what happens in North Korea. You can’t live next to a crazy neighbor for this long without learning how to tune them out in your head, I guess.
Overall, most of the human rights and religious groups are coming to a recognition that the strategy employed by Park and Gomes was quite a harmful one for the North Korean underground church and for the conduct of missionary work in China.
It may be that the church is ticked at Aijalon for acting like a Christian, the U.S. State Department is ticked at Aijalon for trying to do something about North Korea’s acts of oppression and the rest of the world either doesn’t care or is afraid to care.
Even the other recent captives of North Korea aren’t speaking out on his behalf. I note only myself and two others who have blogged, Twittered and otherwise written more than a blip or two about Aijalon Mahli Gomes. The general consensus, it seems, is that Aijalon made the choice to enter North Korea, so he can stay in North Korea.
Aijalon, if ever there was a roadturn, Buddy, you are on it. My prayer is that your work is effectual and that your mind and body can persevere. Don’t count on your country or your church to step in on your behalf. If the Creator is on your side, you don’t need them anyway.