Thursday, June 20, 2013

Korean Missionary Family Killed in Cambodian Car Accident (a reflection)

I happened to pass by the First Methodist Church in Phnom Penh while scouting for a house yesterday afternoon. The parking is filled with cars and one of the cars belongs to someone I know. Earlier in the afternoon, just after lunch, I read email from Hope International School about the tragic accident where a Korean missionary family got killed. I thought, there must be a funeral or wake service for the family in this church. Without hesitation I entered the church and stood by the door since the church is fully packed.  I stood beside one of the teachers at Hope. The service was in Korean language and I understood nothing, but the language of tears is clear and I could have not understood it better. It wasn't tears of joy but tears of sorrows and grief.  The atmosphere was filled with sorrow and sadness. I don't know the family personally, but I've seen them many times at Hope International School, where my daughter also attends. My daughter is actually a friend to the two children that have been killed. Not one, not two but four funeral flowers lined up at the stage. I couldn't see whether or not there are coffins lined up. Both father and mother and two of their children got killed. The other two survived, the eldest and the youngest, but severely wounded. 
Bang Family Photo posted on the gate of Hope International School. The two girls on dad's lap survive
In reflection of the family's tragic deaths, I can't help but think about heaven, eternity, and God's existence.  The reality of mortality has caught my imagination instantly. As I stood there, my mind was busy working. I thought there was a special protection for Christians, especially missionaries who obeyed the call to take the gospel to foreign land, but I guess none. I can't help but wonder how to answer the "Why" question. Is this really their time to go? Is this how they will go to heaven--a tragic death? But wait, how can I say it's their time to go since the family were on their way to Siemreap to set up a new home and ministry? They spent two and a half years in Phnom penh studying the Khmer language so that they can share the gospel effectively to the Cambodian people. What will happen to the two children left behind? Who will take care of them? These missionaries are full of hope, dreams, ministry plans, and vigor yet in just a split second, they slipped into eternity, with their two children.  I'm pretty sure, not one of them planned to die this way. At that moment, I thought about stories of people miraculously escaping death. Then I thought about angelic beings who could have provided protection. 

One thing is certain, no one knows when death calls home. Christians and non-Christians alike, death may happens at any moment. Every time I heard a tragic death of people in ministry I can't help but tell myself, I don't know how to explain this. As I think about myself and my future death, I thought of George Whitefield famous quote, "We are immortal until our work on earth is done." 

It's pretty easy to say, "God is sovereign; He never makes mistakes." It's also easy to blame and question God when tragedy strikes. We may also blame ourselves and others. We may even try to find answers or resign to oblivion. Yet, no matter how one may tries to explain the tragic death of those in ministry, no one can  explain it adequately and satisfactorily.