The Mission Field God Gave Me: Where God Wanted Me to Be

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Editor’s Note: Because of his Korean-American heritage, author Kenneth Bae felt compelled to somehow reach the people of North Korea. Living in China, Kenneth began to lead guided tours into the secret nation. After six years of successful, peaceful tours, Kenneth was suddenly detained, arrested and eventually sentenced to fifteen years hard labor. During his ordeal, Kenneth was forced to lean harder on God than ever before.

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From the time of my arrest I had meditated on all the promises of rescue in the Bible, especially in the Psalms. Does it mean God doesn’t love me if He doesn’t rescue me? I wondered.

I reread the letters I’d received from home, letters from my wife, my mother, my sister, and my children. The letters made them seem close and yet so much farther away. Is this the only way they are going to be able to know me for the next fifteen years? Is this the only contact I am going to get to have with everyone I love?

I went back over the lines in my mother’s last letter. “You are going to have to have the faith of Daniel’s friends,” she had said.

Am I that strong? Can I do what they did? Can I keep trusting in God, even if the worst-case scenario comes true?

For an entire week I wrestled with these questions. I prayed and prayed and asked God for wisdom and strength. My mood jumped between depressed and not quite as depressed. I sang sad songs, like the old Elvis tune “Are You Lonesome Tonight?” and Eric Carmen’s “All by Myself.” To be honest, I really started feeling sorry for myself.

Finally, on September 24, 2013, I got down on my knees on my bed and I prayed, Lord, You know my heart. You know what I want, but not my will but Yours be done. You know I want to go home, but if You want me to stay, I will stay. I give up my right to go home. I surrender it to You. Please, take care of my wife and my children and my parents. Please take care of them while You keep me here. If this is where You want me to be, okay. I embrace that as Your will.

Peace came over me as a weight lifted off my shoulders. God’s Spirit filled the room and reminded me of my calling.

“I am a missionary,” I said. “Lord, I am a missionary, and this is the mission field You have given me. Use me.”

The moment I stopped praying, God, save me, and instead prayed, God, use me, I felt free. I was still in a North Korean hospital as a prisoner. I still faced fifteen years of hard labor once I was released from the hospital, but I was suddenly fine with all that. God wanted me in North Korea. God had called me here. He had a purpose for my being a prisoner.

I didn’t know it then, but I still had more than a year of imprisonment in front of me. That didn’t matter. The only thing that mattered was I was where God wanted me to be at the very moment He needed me to be here, and and I love Him. If I truly loved Him, I would obey Him. In light of all of this, there was truly only one thing I could pray: God, use me.

Excerpted with permission from Not Forgotten: The True Story of My Imprisonment in North Korea by Kenneth Bae and Mark Tabb.

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Your Turn

What mission field does God have you in today? Maybe it’s your job that is challenging and hostile to Christianity. Maybe it’s your school where almost no one claims the name of Jesus. Where can you be used by God just as He used Kenneth Bae? Come join the conversation on our blog! We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily

Kenneth Bae

Kenneth Bae immigrated to the United States with his family in 1985. He went to high school in California and attended the University of Oregon and Covenant Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He held multiple jobs in sales and marketing until he moved to China in 2006. After years of managing his cultural-exchange business and missionary work, he transitioned into travel and tourism industry in 2010 planning trips for the DPRK (North Korea). Kenneth had a passion to introduce westerners to the untainted beauty of the landscape and people of North Korea and was excited to contribute to their economic development. He is a licensed preacher in the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), an ordained Southern Baptist pastor, and has been working with Youth With A Mission (YWAM) since 2005. Kenneth is a husband and a father of three children, ages eighteen to twenty-five.

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