Global Church Head Meets With Korean Hostage Families

Aug 15, 2007 12:16 PM EDT

The head of the World Council of Churches met briefly with the families of the Korean hostages at their home church outside of Seoul Tuesday to offer comfort and prayers for the hostages’ safe return.

The Rev. Dr. Samuel Kobia, general secretary of the World Council of Churches (WCC), met privately for 40 minutes with the family members at Sammul Presbyterian Church in Bundang, South Korea.

“You could see their pain and agony. It was written all over their faces,” reflected Kobia of the families, according to WCC. “It was a very moving moment for me.”

He added, “I told them they have now become part of a bigger family, and they can feel they now have a global family holding them up in prayer.”

During the meeting, the WCC representative expressed hope that the world would become one “where human beings can express support of other human beings, without our acts of charity being viewed with suspicion.”

The group of 23 South Korean Christian volunteers was abducted by Taliban gunmen on July 19 in Afghanistan’s Ghazni Province. Two male captives have been killed since their capture including the group’s leader Bae Hyun-kyu, who was a youth pastor at Sammul Church.

On Monday, two female hostages were released, marking the first breakthrough in negotiations. The two may return home to South Korea as early as Wednesday, according to the Korea Times.

Kobia, on behalf of WCC, has written several letters urging Christians to pray for the Korean hostages and comforting their families since the kidnapping nearly a month ago.

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The WCC general secretary’s visit comes at the close of his weeklong visit to South Korea where he attended pre-planning conferences for the celebration of the 100th anniversary of Korea’s great 1907 revival and to examine the continuing role of the Korean churches in the reunification of the Korean peninsula.

Kobia was accompanied by the Rev. Kwon Oh-sung, general secretary of the National Council of Churches in Korea, and Jung Hae-sung, a member of the WCC executive committee and central committee.

The World Council of Churches is an ecumenical fellowship of churches founded in 1948. The WCC consists of 347 Protestant, Orthodox, Anglican and other churches representing more than 560 million Christians in over 110 countries.