There is a curious passage in the second letter that Paul wrote to the Thessalonians. At the beginning of chapter three, he asks the Thessalonians to pray for him because the world was filled with “unreasonable” and “evil”men.
“Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, 2 and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith.” (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 NKJV)
In verse two, Paul was describing the two types of leaders that he was running into as he traveled through Asia preaching the Gospel. He needed to be delivered, literally rescued, from these type of people.
The Greek word “atopos” translated unreasonable has several meanings — absurd, improper, unusual, inappropriate and out-of-place. Like the Christians bakers in Oregon who were fined $135,000 (US) because they refused to make a $200 wedding cake for a Lesbian couple.
Others were blatantly evil (Greek poneros) — bad or wicked, similar to the one Kenneth Bae encountered.
In 2013, the North Korean government sentenced Bae to 15 years in prison for preaching against the country’s supreme leader — Kim Jong-un, 31.
Since North Koreans consider Jong-un a god, it wasn’t a complete surprise when authorities accused Bae of plotting a religious coup.
Bae, a devout Christian, was providing tours for Christians to North Korea when the secret police arrest Bae in November, 2012. The found a hard drive on him that contained prayers for Korea along with images of the country’s starving children.
In an interview with CBS, Bae said:
“They the prosecutors said, ‘You attempted to overthrow the government through prayer and worship’ and they really took prayer as a weapon against them.
“One of the prosecutors told me that I was the word, most dangerous American criminal they had ever apprehended since the Korean War. I said, ‘Why?’ and they said ‘Because not only (did you come) to do mission work on your own, you asked others to join.’”
During the first month of his arrest he was interrogated for up to 14 hours a day. In 2013, a North Korean court sentenced Bae to hard labor on a farm shoveling coal and carrying rocks, a difficult job for a 47-year-old man with back problems.
But perhaps the most wearing time at the farm was the weekly visit by an interrogator whose sole job was to undermine Bae’s hope.
He told Bae that everybody had forgotten about him, that no one cared and that he was not going to be freed until he was 60.
But in an interview with CNN, Bae said his faith in God kept him strong during his captivity.
He described his ordeal this way:
“I am looking in the mirror in the bathroom every day, and say, ‘remember, you are a missionary. This is what you are here for. I took it more as a blessing, rather than a curse or suffering… no one likes suffering, no one will embrace suffering but when suffering comes to you, you have to face it.”
But many in America were praying for his release. His sister for one had organized prayer vigils at a Seattle church.
According to Bae, God sent help in a most unusual way through an eccentric former-NBA star — Dennis Rodman. Kim Jong-un is a Chicago Bull fan and Rodman won a NBA championship playing with the team in 90s.
Rodman had developed a relationship with the North Korean dictator and even visited Kim Jong-un on his private island. Rodman also worked briefly with the country’s national basketball team.
Rodman called a news conference and asked Kim Jong-un to cut Bae loose. The former NBA star even publicly criticized President Obama for doing nothing.
Bae described Rodman as the “catalyst” for his release because it was his statements that brought Bae’s plight to media’s attention and put pressure on the North Koreans and Americans to work out Bae’s release.
After spending 735 days in a labor camp, North Korea released Bae in 2014.
- Former North Korean prisoner reveals what it was like inside the regime’s labour camp: News.com.au
- Why this man was deemed the “most dangerous American” in N. Korea: CBS
- Inside the world’s weirdest bromance between Kim Jong-un and Dennis Rodman: News.com.au
- Kenneth Bae moved from North Korea prison camp to hospital after losing 50 lbs, sister says: CBS