Worth Reading - 5/29

At age 15, I faced a choice: I could either starve like my father, or flee the country and hope to secure a better life outside its fortified borders. Between the certainty of death and the chance of survival, I chose survival.

I had heard that most North Koreans tried to cross the border into China during the night, so I planned my escape for midday in February 2006. I slipped down the banks of the Tumen River, coated my shoes in sandy silt for traction, and raced across the river’s icy surface to the far shore. It was a miracle that I made it.

I fled full of hope. I was sure I would have no difficulty finding food. I imagined Chinese families handing me their leftovers, as a bowl of rice was nothing for them. But once in China, reality hit. Almost no one wanted to share with me. They were irritated simply by my request for leftovers. I was so confused. This was not what I believed people were like.

For a few weeks, I was barely able to beg enough to survive. Then an elderly Chinese Korean woman approached me. “I am so sorry—there is nothing I can offer,” she said. “But you should go to a church.” She told me to look for a building with a cross

2. Robert Woodberry is using social science to show how Protestant missionaries made the world a better place:

Woodberry notes that, contrary to some portrayals, importing the Protestant missionary enterprise is distinct from imperialism.

In fact, in many cases European governments or corporate interests limited the areas in which missionaries could live. In some cases, as in the life of David Livingstone on the African continent, there was open discord between traders and missionaries.

Some of the limitations placed on missionaries actually help Woodberry prove his case. In some instances, missionaries were given a latitude or longitude they could not go beyond. These artificial boundaries often divided tribes arbitrarily. They also create an excellent experimental control to show the positive impact of Protestant missions.

As Woodberry remarks, by looking at a variety of conditions within a few miles of either side of one of the arbitrary limits, he is able to show that there are consistent, statistically significant differences between the wellbeing of populations on either side of the line.

The recurring pattern shows long term positive effects of missionaries spreading the gospel.

3. Robert Woodberry's lecture at SEBTS:

4. Danny Akin has contributed a video to the website "Openly Secular" to engage in dialogue and promote freedom of thought and cobelligerence on some social issues. This is an interesting approach to engaging the culture and a positive move on his part:

So why, at a time when believers and non-believers are often not on speaking terms, would Akin agree to do such a video?

Because, he says on camera, the two sides do agree on some things. Namely, that “no one should be coerced when it comes to their particular religious beliefs, whether they are religious or not religious,” Akin says. “They should have the freedom to express what they believe and they should be able to do so without hatred, without discrimination.”

The seminary president goes on to say that Christians and those with no religious affiliation can also work together – “with mutual love, with mutual respect and understanding” – to help the poor and care for the planet.

What is not in the video: Any attempt by Akin to proselytize, or convert his listeners to Christianity.

Akin agreed to make the video at the request of Todd Stiefel, the Raleigh-based chair of Openly Secular, a campaign launched by a coalition of more than 20 secular groups.

The campaign, Stiefel told the Observer, hopes to trumpet love, acceptance and reason.