Afghanistan/Korea (MNN) — The head of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, welcomed news that all 19 remaining South Korean hostages have been released by the Taliban.
Tunnicliffe, the WEA's International Director, says, "We at the World Evangelical Alliance rejoice in the fact that our brothers and sisters held hostage for over six weeks have now all been released. At the same time, we also grieve the loss of the two male Korean captives and will be praying for God to comfort their families."
"We also want to assure the Korean churches that we will continue to pray for them as they process the emotions and changes following the hostage crisis."
On July 19, 23 South Korean Christian volunteers were captured by Taliban militants. Family members and the group's home church in South Korea say that the group was only in Afghanistan to offer free medical services and not for evangelism.
Since the kidnapping – the largest abduction of foreigners in Afghanistan since the fall of the Taliban regime in 2001 – two male hostages have been killed. The leader of the group, 40-year-old Pastor Bae Hyung-kyu, and 29-year-old Shim Sung-min were found dead on July 25 and July 30, respectively.
Two female hostages were freed on August 13: 37-year-old Kim Kyung-ja and 32-year-old Kim Ji-na.
The WEA Director added, "We recognize there is much current debate on the future of Korean missionary work in dangerous or complex situation. I'm looking forward to meeting Korean Christian leaders to discuss the significant implications of the South Korean government's ban on Christian workers going to Afghanistan."
Dr. Tunnicliffe will visit South Korea Sept 13-17 to meet with Korean Christian leaders. In addition, he hopes to meet with the released hostages.