(MNN) — Although it appears the crisis between South
Korea, its missionaries, and Afghanistan's Taliban is over, not
Glenn Penner of Voice of the Martyrs Canada is glad the
released hostages are safe, but what was the cost of their freedom?
"Ultimately, the only real concession the South Korean government seems to
have been willing to make was the religious freedom of its own citizens. That's
going too far. Governments don't have that right to ban their citizens'
faith in this fashion."
The South Korean embassy in Kabul
said the freed hostages were likely to be flown to the U.S. military base at Bagram, north of Kabul, before leaving Afghanistan. The 23 Christian aid
workers were seized on July 19 from a bus as they traveled through Ghazni
Tensions ratcheted up a notch when
the Taliban killed two male hostages early on, but the release of two
women during the first round of negotiations was seen as a gesture of goodwill.
return for the promised release, Seoul pledged
to withdraw from Afghanistan
by year's end and banned future missionary travel. The move has been heavily
criticized and was described as a backtrack, an accusation strongly denied.
According to the Korean government, the withdrawal of their
troops was already planned, and the government agreed to prevent missionary
work in the Muslim nation. South Korean church groups have already agreed to
abide by the Seoul
Penner says the hostage situation sets an uncomfortable
evangelistic ministry precedent.
"The impact on the Gospel is that it will certainly slow down
Christian aid activity from South Korea, and the South Koreans are the second-largest missionary country in the world. They have shown a willingness to go to other countries to which other
people are not willing to go." Pray for the continued boldness of Christians in Afghanistan and for the safe return of the released hostages.