62 Year Old Canadian Pastor Returns Home after 2 Year Imprisonment in North Korea

A private jet of the Canadian government carried a 62-year-old pastor back to his home after being released from a North Korea prison. Hyeon Soo Lim was set free from a labor camp after being imprisoned for 2 years on charges of trying to overthrow the Pyongyang regime.

Lim was freed with the assistance of the Global Affairs Canada and the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. The release of Mr. Lim comes after a delegation visited North Korea headed by Daniel Jean, the national security adviser of Trudeau. North Korea released Lim on sick bail though he looked quite healthy as he landed at the air base in CFB Trenton. But his family is going through a series of medical checkups to ensure his health.

Lim had made many trips to North Korea for humanitarian missions working on food and nutrition sustainability. He made over 100 trips over a span of two decades before he was imprisoned in December 2015. The information about his release came up on first on the KCNA news agency of North Korea which cited humanitarian grounds for his release based on poor health. Later Global Affairs called his family to inform about the development and confirm the news.

Lim’s family and the members of his church community were waiting for him at the ground. He got the chance to talk to his son, mother, and wife using a phone on the trip back. James Lim, his son had his daughter with him whom Lim met for the first time. James described the reunion as “surreal” and said it felt amazing to see his dad holding his granddaughter for the first time. In a press conference, James told they were happy and ecstatic that their father has returned home.

Mr. Lim’s health was their main concern and they wanted him to rest and take the time to reconnect with his family and friends. Though the first thing Lim wants to do after reaching home has a relaxing coffee and donut at the popular joint Tim Hortons.

Lim’s experience in North Korea as a prisoner is not available yet but it has strengthened his faith, said James. In the camp, Lim had to eat around 2,700 meals on his own in isolation and he used the time to connect to God. Lim tried to use his time in the best way, which can spend time with God in solitude, said James. The senior pastor will be joining the services in his church and appear before the public. Till then his family wants everyone to respect their privacy and give him time.

James has expressed his gratitude to the government and Global Affairs for facilitating the release of his father.

A New Way of Looking at Canadian Churches

How about a church converted to a brewery or a wedding hall?

It may sound surprising, but Canadian churches are selling like hot cakes in the real estate market. There are many reasons that have prompted the phenomenon including decreasing congregations and coming of the mega churches. But most important is the rising demand for real estate in the urban centers of the country. From religious to secular, the buildings are being given a new identity and makeover by the business owners. Church converting is not the only one quickly developing field in Canada. It includes also gambling industry. Nowadays a lot of credible gaming sources like NBSO online review directory or others become online-oriented, that is why you can easily find the detailed listing of best gaming activities (pour les visiteurs francophones et des informations sur le plus populaire casino en ligne).

There are many interesting examples out there. A church in Sherbrooke has been converted to a rock climbing gym while a few others have been transformed into restaurants. Marly Anderson from Victoria-by-the-Sea in Prince Edward Island roped in the federal and provincial government in her initiative of converting a church into a wedding venue.

She received funding from the government for the project and renovated the church which was sitting empty for 12 years. With an investment of $140,000, The Grand Victorian was opened retaining the look of the church from outside. But inside it was completely changed and now the altar serves as the bar during weddings!

Silversmith Brewing Co. in Virgil, Ontario operates out of a 1890s Anglican Church and is another fine example of the religious real estate industry. Owner Chris Pontsioen bought the 1,800-square- foot church for $500,000 in 2012 after a long negotiation with the owner. The building had stopped being used as a church for around 50 years and an antique shop was setup keeping the original looks. Pontsioen and his friends were apprehensive about backlash from the neighboring community but to their relief, the encountered none. Most people find the idea amusing, said Mr. Pontsioen. He believed that transforming and preserving the church was more acceptable to the population than tearing it down.

Realtors Leonardo Di Francesco and Rav Rampuri have developed their business around selling churches. In 20 years they have finalized more than 100 deals involving churches. Operating in the Vancouver area, they get numerous calls from realtors and appraisers. But they are not able to entertain everyone as there is a lack of churches ready for sale.

Sometimes regulations play the spoilsport by limiting the sale. One of such challenges faced by the duo involved a church located in North Burnaby with a value of $8.8 million. They could not make any deal with it because the P1 zoning of the church did not allow for conversion. A process of rezoning can be initiated, but it takes many years for it making it impractical.

There is a big market for houses of worship on the market right now but not everyone is lucky enough to find a deal!

Young Immigrants more Devoted to Christianity than Canadians

The initial feeling of loneliness and lack of community can be hard to take for many people when they immigrate to a different country. It has been seen that people rely on religion to overcome that feeling and find a sense of belonging.

An interesting trend has been noticed among the young immigrants of Canada- most of them are highly passionate about their religion, sometimes on a greater level than in their native country.

The trend is also highlighted by findings of Angus Reid Institute pollsters presented in the Statistics Canada. The religious commitment was seen to be high among the young immigrants.

The Tale of Boh Ryung Kim

Boh-Ryung Kim arrived in Canada with her parents in 2000. The family and the 22-year-old found Roman Catholicism to give them hope and made it a holistic part of their life. Kim said that they didn’t know anyone in Canada and going to church offered them a feeling of community and also provided a way to know people.

Kim’s Story

Kim attended the St. Andrew Kim Catholic Church in Surrey in the beginning which had 6,500 members comprising mostly of ethnic Koreans. Later when she was studying at the University of B.C., she went to St. Mark’s parish. Kim finds her religion to guide her in the right way and help her adjust to the foreign surroundings. A priest from UBC’s St. Mark’s Catholic parish, Father Rob Allore revealed that the foreign students who attended the church put more importance on the community than native British Columbians.

The young immigrants, mostly from Asia are making up for the attendance in the Canadian churches. The majority of the immigrants who came to Canada between 2001 and 2011 were either Catholics (21%) or Protestants (23%). Most of the immigrants to arrive in the decade were Roman Catholics numbering around 478,000, followed by 162,000 evangelicals and 108,000 Eastern Orthodox Christians.

How Is it For Young Immigrants?

Angus Reid pollsters say the young immigrants are almost 3 times more likely to participate in religious activities compared to Canadians. It is not surprising that there are many Roman Catholic mega-churches in Metro Vancouver attended by Chinese, Korean, Filipino, and Vietnamese people.

One can also find multiple evangelical Protestant churches serving to ethnic populations. Sometimes the immigrants attend churches more frequently than they did in their native countries. 50% of the polled immigrants said that they visited a religious institution at least once a month in Canada.

Reginald Bibby, Canadian sociologist of religion opines that institutional religion is not going to vanish from Canada anytime soon. The trend of spiritual passion has also been seen in other religions other than Christianity like Islam, Hinduism, and Sikh.

But not all stay on the religious path. Some exploit the freedom and divert to other enjoyments of life.