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The Unbearable Heaviness of Being

My quest for the eternal lightness


Kabul (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The latest ultimatum before the execution of 21 remaining South Korean hostages held by the Talibans expired at 7.30 GMT this morning. Tribal leaders who are trying to mediate have called for an additional 48 hours to avoid further bloodshed after the killing of two hostages. The terrorists have not yet responded.

I asked Justy and Lindy over frosty beer last night – how do you pray for this situation?  I painfully find it hard to only pass this over by handing it back to God. Sure, we all feel bad about this. I’ve been receiving text messages rallying Christians to pray for the captured Korean aid workers. I’m reading about the vigils held in Seoul. I am certainly troubled by it. I hope this bloodshed can be stopped immediately by some kind of miraculous intervention. (Perhaps, one can consider this a prayer). Then again, we could sign the petition for the release of these hostages ( Perhaps also, maybe a petition for the U.S. to release the Taliban prisoners, as demanded by these terrorists? That of course could be seen as a weak position and I could be condemned from many angles. Justy asked, if I would go to Afgan if he’s one of these hostages? We both agreed that that would not help either.

While we should continue to keep our hearts on this (fervently), I am also troubled by the bitter fact that our Christian solidarity has mostly been very tribal. Christian communities are mobilized when troubles hit their churches or when missionaries and christian leaders are under threats. Our mobile phones and e-mails are flooded with endless calls to pray and to stand together againts these evils. Sadly, I do not receive text messages to pray when christians are contributing to some of the evils in the world, or when it does not concern christians at large.

Why is it that our churches in Malaysia are not called so fervently and urgently to pray (and to hold vigils) when thousands perished in Iraq and thousands more innocent lives were at risk under the hands of the invading forces of U.S. and Britain? Aren’t these lives just as valuable to God? Yet, I personally hear renowned Christian leaders giving thanks to God for bringing down Saddam Hussein and his regime so that believers could openly worship in Iraq. Of course, the current ordeal in Afgan is a form of retaliation to this injustice – one which we could never fully settle the score on who the original culprit is, as the list would be endless – and every side have their version of the story.

Nearer home, where is this same voice that would cry out to God when injustice prevails? Where are the Christian e-mails and text messages when one is taken into custody without proper procedure? Perhaps they are not our children? Probably the situation is not as pressing, but our indifference now will allow problems to escalate. Why only throw the problem to God when situation runs out of control?

How can we start bridging this inconsistency? What are we telling our children in church? How are we connecting with these problems? What would be the content of our sunday school syllabus? Where are we taking our christian conversation with our youths? How can we listen to the voices from the other side? Until then, I find it hard to pray for this problem to just go away. I sincerely hope it would, though. But how sincere is sincere?