My Mother was Born in North Korea

It’s true. She was born in Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea. Only it wasn’t North Korea back then—it was simply Korea. My grandparents, Ralph and Mildred Watts, were young missionaries in Korea when Mom was born, and they ended up serving seventeen years in that country. So having grown up as a missionaries’ kid myself in Japan (where I was born) and having consumed Korean bibimbap (a delectable rice dish) and kimchee (marinated cabbage and chili) throughout my life, you can understand my personal interest in the unfolding saga between North and South Korea these last few weeks. I never cease to be amazed at how quickly the geopolitical landscape of our small planet can shift. Two years ago it was the “Arab spring”—Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Iran—then it was back to Libya, Iran and Syria. And in between it all has been Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and then back to Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq.  And now the Korean peninsula is once again embroiled in the noisy nuclear saber rattling that has characterized the unsettled coexistence of these two nations since the armistice of 1953. Somewhere I remember reading—was it the words of Jesus?—about “nation against nation” and “wars and rumors of war” being a chronic and perpetual harbinger of earth’s eventual collapse. Welcome to our third millennial world. But on this International Student Sabbath here at Andrews University we are a campus of Christian Adventist optimists—optimistic in the midst of our world’s chronic dysfunction, simply because we have learned that upheaval and change are allies with God’s strategic mission to reach this generation. Sociologists and psychologists tell us that when a human being is experiencing sudden or radical change—be it the death of a loved one, personal illness, the loss of a job, et al—that person is significantly more open to spiritual change than usual. God is not the author of chaos and confusion—His archenemy is. But divine omnipotence being what it is (all-powerful and all-creative), Heaven seizes the dark upheaval on earth and transforms it into a glorious opportunity to transmit the everlasting good news of our Lord Jesus Christ. Which being interpreted means that right now in earth’s history is a profound opportunity to engage in Christ’s mission to reach this planet with the good news of His soon return. Right now is a significant opening door for you and me to personally join with the Spirit of Jesus in reaching this generation for Him. In fact, right now is splendid opportunity to enlist as a full-time or part-time missionary for the Kingdom. “‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature’” (Mark 16:15). Jesus’ parting command to His followers clearly includes both South and North Korea. Which means it is possible that someone reading these words right now is being tapped by the Holy Spirit to prepare to enter North Korean the moment that wall comes down and the door opens. It could very well be that you are being called and, unbeknown to you, are already being prepped by the God of the universe to become a strategic player in His endgame to reach “every creature” north of the 38th parallel. (Go to to explore God’s opportunities.) This much I know on this International Student Sabbath—Calvary’s crimson mission has been international from the beginning. Which explains this terse line a century ago: “God’s people have always been aggressive missionaries, consecrating their resources to the honor of His name, and wisely using their talents in His service” (Maranatha 123). Let’s go!