Like many of the events that GCOWE '95 has spawned, the scene will be etched forever in the minds of those attending the United Prayer Track late last week at Seoul's Kwang Lim Retreat Center. As participants looked on and prayed under their breath, the Rev. Dr. Paul Ariga, representing Japan, knelt down on the floor before Isaac Lee, a Korean delegate.
"Your grandfather was killed by the Japanese in the name of the Emperor," he declared empathetically. "They named this World War II as a holy war. [But] it was a sin! I am repenting before God. Only through the blood of Jesus Christ, I ask you to forgive me and Japan. We have killed your grandfather."
What emotions Lee must have felt as he listened to this were unclear, but his tone was equally remorseful. He said, "We forgive you and your nation. Please forgive me also. We have hated you."
With applause ringing in their ears the two men then embraced each other warmly. Cindy Jacobs, a leader in intercession, came to stand by them and explained to the audience that many Koreans have Japanese blood in their veins, the result of years of contact, much of it unhappy, between the two countries. (In fact, as Ariga himself pointed out, some 82 percent of the Korean people hate the Japanese for the cruelty they inflicted upon Korea during World War II and the five decades of colonial rule before 1945).
Jacobs joined the two men's hands. "The Lord," she said, "wants to make the Japanese and Koreans <i>one</i> in the hand of the Lord for world evangelization." As she joined the two men's hands together, she said, "We declare prophetically that Japan and Korea are one in the hand of the Lord like Ephraim and Manasses." There was more loud applause.
Wonderful as the Korean-Japanese reconciliation was, it was just one among several incidents of cross-national reconciliation that occurred among GCOWE '95 delegates over the past week. At the Choong Hyun Presbyterian Church on Monday afternoon, an Arab-Jewish reconciliation scene had delegates jumping out of their seats with joy and applause. Holding hands and then hugging each other were the totally diverse members of the delegation from Israel that Ashur Intrator, secretary of the Messianic Jewish Alliance of Israel, had brought together with him to Seoul.
His group, he explained, included Palestinian Arabs, Israeli Arabs, Christians and Messianic Jews. He said it had been meeting regularly in Israel despite the huge differences of culture, politics, history and religion itself. Explained Intrator: "We've managed to come to love one another through Jesus. When we love each other, we allow ourselves to be who we are."
Something similar to that message was also conveyed in the plenary sessions, but between American denominations rather than different nationalities. The process of healing and repentance, it seems, has plenty of ground to make up.
Commented Cindy Jacobs, "Some people say, 'how many times do you have to do this?'" Then she answered her own question: "Until the pain stops."