When I read the Open Doors report below, it made me think of what we’ve signed up to as followers of the Way.
I mean, contexts change, but the gospel doesn’t. And yet quite naturally (but wrongly) we allow our context to distort the gospel – unless we live with great intentionality according to a radically different view of reality, and insist on keeping ourselves well-informed on what is going on elsewhere.
So what do North Korean’s experiences of the gospel have to say to the easy-believist, pick-and-choose, narcissistic faith of much of the Western world?
I’m not into guilt trips, but I cherish gratitude trips. And unless I keep challenging myself, I check out. So as I read about our brothers and sisters in their very different context, I am humbled, chastened, challenged, and deeply grateful – all very healthy emotions – hence sharing it with you.
And it’s not about words, there’s a call to action. So please join me as I join them. Read on:
Almost one year has passed since Kim Jong-Un succeeded his father as the leader of the world’s most secretive nation. But despite the young leader’s new public image as a man with a ‘cute and cuddly’ side, there have been few signs of genuine reform in the country.
Most North Koreans are chronically malnourished, the police have informants everywhere, and more than 1 per cent of the population lives in Nazi-like labour camps. And for Christians the suppression is still severe. Owning a Bible could get you killed or sent to a labour camp – it is estimated that between 50,000 to 70,000 believers are languishing in these prison camps.
For underground believers in North Korea, prayer has become their lifeline. “Prayer in North Korea is a matter of life and death,” says an Open Doors contact working in China. “If North Koreans come to faith in China, the most important thing we teach them is how to build a relationship with God.
“When they return to their country they cannot take a Bible along. Almost half of all refugees who return are arrested at some point during the journey. In every situation they need to trust in the Lord. That is why prayer is so important. We teach them to pray for everything, especially for discernment. Who can you trust? What do you say, and what do you not say?”
Despite the immense challenges, North Korean Christians are praying some big prayers for their country. “God gave us a vision, that one day our country will be opened and be reunited with South Korea,” say underground church leaders. “Then the North Korean and South Korean Church will work together with our Chinese brothers and sisters to evangelise Asia. That is going to be a hard, difficult task. We see the current persecution in North Korea as preparation for that time.”
It’s an incredible vision, and one that Open Doors longs to see becoming reality. That’s why we are launching 31 days of prayer for North Korea, starting on 1 January 2013. Please go to Open Doors 31 Day Prayer Campaign and invite your friends to join too. Let’s do it!