The South Korean missionaries rescued after being held hostage by the Taliban have said they "felt the presence of Jesus" in such an incredible way while in captivity, they wish they could return to prison, Francis Chan has revealed.
Speaking at the International Christian Concern's The Bridge 2017 conference, hosted at Rick Warren's Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, Chan shared a conversation he once had with one of the 23 Korean missionaries captured and held hostage by the Taliban in Afghanistan in 2007.
"He talked about how they got into this argument because they found out that they were going to be killed one at a time. This man I was having dinner with was saying to this other guy, 'Look, I know they are going to kill us one at a time. I die first,'" Chan recalled. "The other man said, 'No, I die first.' [The first] guy is going, 'No, I am your elder. I die first.' Then, the other man says, 'No, you have not been ordained as a pastor. I am an ordained minister. I die first.' That man was the first one that was executed."
Two male hostages, one a pastor, were executed before a deal was reached for the group's release by the South Korean government. However, several of the 16 female missionaries and six male missionaries who were able to return to Seoul have since said that they wish they were still captives of the terrorist group, Chan revealed.
The Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God quoted the missionary as telling him: "'These women that were in these camps with us, they come to me and they say, 'Pastor, don't you wish we were still imprisoned by the Taliban?'"
"They tell me, 'When I was surrounded by these soldiers, I felt the presence of Jesus in there with me. Now that we are back in Seoul, I am trying to experience that intimacy with Him but I can't. I fast and I pray and I don't feel it. I would rather be back there because of the intimacy I had with him.'"
The peace Jesus gave to the Korean missionaries was the same peace he extended to the martyrs of the New Testament, Chan contended.
"How great is Jesus if there is nothing better on this Earth than that intimacy and sharing the suffering. ... It totally makes sense to me biblically," Chan explained. "That's why Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into this pit of fire and suddenly, the king is like, 'Wait, why are there four people in there? Who is that fourth one?'"
"That's why Stephen, when he is about to be stoned to death, goes, 'I can see Him,'" Chan continued. "Is there a special fellowship that we share in that suffering that we will miss out on because we just think comfort is everything and we just want to pull everyone into our comfort and into our civilian affairs rather than joining in their suffering and losing our life so that we can actually find something so much better?"
Chan urged attendees to "be faithful, even until death."
"That is a beautiful thing in the eyes of the Lord," he said. "I don't know about you, but the Lord is working my heart. I know what it looks like here in America, but I don't think I want to end so comfortably. am scared of suffering but I think I am more scared of comfort. I want to join the Apostle Paul. I want to join Jesus. It doesn't make sense to the world but it makes sense in the world if there is a resurrection today."
The Reverend Eric Foley, CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, last year shared that Christians persecuted for their faith in North Korea "are some of the most free people" he's ever encountered - even though the isolated country is ranked no. 1 on Open Door USA's World Watch List of countries where it's most difficult to be a believer.
"Often radio hosts will introduce me by saying 'this is the worst place in the world to be a Christian'," he said, "but I've never heard a North Korean Christian say that. Not because their life isn't difficult, but because they believe that God has drawn close to them in a real way, that the rest of us may not even be able to imagine fully."
Dr. Foley revealed that once, he asked a North Korean defector how he could help and pray for him: "He looked amused by that," he recalled. "He said, 'You pray for us? We pray for you! That's the problem with you American Christians and South Korean Christians! You have so much, you put your faith in your money and in your freedom. In North Korea we have neither money nor freedom, but we have Christ and we've found He's sufficient.' "
He added, "I realized, we're not there to help North Korean Christians. We really are there to learn from them, as their junior partners. Freedom in Christ is something that can't be granted or taken away by a government. So North Korean Christians are some of the most free people I've ever seen."