Source: David Yan
Anyone who kidnaps someone is to be put to death, whether the victim has been sold or is still in the kidnapper’s possession. (Exodus 21:16 NIV)
Clearly kidnapping is abhorrent to God. Douglas K. Stuart tells us why.
Kidnapping is a capital crime. God regards taking someone away from home and family by force for relocation elsewhere (usually to be sold into slavery) as sufficiently horrendous that he requires kidnappers or slave traders to be put to death when apprehended. People’s freedom from such oppression is important to God. (Douglas K. Stuart, Exodus Vol. 2 [Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2006], 488.)
The recent spate of kidnapping/disappearance of pastors and social activists in Malaysia should be a matter of great concern for all Malaysians. It should be a matter of great concern for the church. Looking at the growing list of people disappearing makes me think of the situation in some countries in Latin America in the ’70s and the ’80s. Here is a summary of this phenomenon of “forced disappearances” on Telesur.
Latin America’s Disappeared
August 30 marks the International Day of Enforced Disappearances. The day was inaugurated to commemorate all of the victims of forced disappearances and was created following a U.N. Resolution approved in 2010.
The term enforced disappearances refers to victims forcefully abducted as a strategy to intimidate and spread fear throughout a population. Although most of the victims are actually killed, others were tortured or smuggled to another country, making it very difficult to determine their whereabouts. Some reported as disappeared might never be found and their bodies never recovered.
The proposal for commemorating the day of enforced disappearances was brought forward by the Latin American Federation of the Detained-Disappeared, a regional organization which unites all of the human rights bodies struggling to find out the truth.
In Latin America, Tens of Thousands Were Disappeared
The forced disappearances of people became an issue of global concern during the right-wing military dictatorships which governed most of Latin America throughout the 1970s and 1980s. All of them resorted to this technique as a means of limiting opposition to their regimes.
Without dead bodies, these governments could deny knowledge of people’s whereabouts and any accusations that they had been killed. As Argentinian Dictator General Jorge Rafael Videla explained in an infamous press conference, “They are neither dead nor alive, they are disappeared”
Malaysia seems to be slowly walking down this road.
Perhaps what is equally disturbing is the fact that the authorities seem to be relatively unperturbed by these disappearances. Perhaps they are feverishly working behind the scenes to locate and free these victims. Unfortunately, their relative silence lends itself to all sorts of speculation. Are the authorities unconcerned because:
- They don’t care?
- They are helpless?
- They condone these disappearances?
What can followers of Jesus do?
- Pray. When God’s people pray, God listens and responds though we may not see His hand at work (Daniel 9:20–23). Action without prayer makes us practical atheists.
- Protest. Continue to let the powers that be know that this situation is unacceptable. We can write to the press. We can make representations to our elected officials. We can continue our public vigils. And we mustn’t grow weary.
- Participate in the political process. There is a general election coming. Let us vote in a government that cares.
For the record, here are those missing that we know about:
Amri Che Mat, social activist: Missing since Nov 24, 2016.
Joshua Hilmy and wife Ruth, pastors: Missing since Nov 30, 2016.
Raymond Koh, pastor: Missing since Feb 13, 2017.
Peter Chong, social activist: Missing since April 5, 2017.
Let us not fail these five souls or fail ourselves, by going on with our lives as though it is business as usual. It is not. God have mercy.