02 18 Newsflashes from the Persecuted Church
North Korea: Believers Say God Is at Work despite Severe Persecution
“Is God at work in North Korea? Because we don’t see it.” Some Open Doors supporters feel disappointed. Even after years and years of prayer for North Korea, ranked No. 1 on the Open Doors World Watch List for 12 years in a row, it seems that the situation in the country grows worse by the day. The prison camps, the famine and the fierce persecution of Christians still exist. It was reported Monday that North Korean security chiefs and possibly even Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un should face international justice for ordering systematic torture, starvation and killings comparable to Nazi-era atrocities, according to United Nations investigators. Has God turned away from North Korea? North Korean refugees Hana* and Jae-Hwa* respond:
Hana came to faith in North Korea after someone secretly gave her a Bible and spent time with her explaining each book. Almost naturally she started to evangelize other people, even though her husband warned her of the dangers. God used Hana to convert many people; until not too long ago she was exposed and had to leave her country and family behind. She now lives in South Korea, but doesn’t want her full testimony to be published. “There are too many people who are still believers and I don’t want them to get into trouble because I talk openly.”
When asked whether God is at work in North Korea, Hana sits back and stays silent for a long moment. “People really question if God is at work in North Korea? How can they ask such a question?”
Then she sighs. “Maybe I understand. How can you comprehend His work in my country if you have not experienced Him in North Korea?”
Then Hana leans forward again, all of a sudden her eyes come alive and her arms gesture widely. “Of course God is at work! Of course prayers help. I am such a weak person. I hardly had any Bible knowledge, but God used me to explain the gospel to others. Sometimes, God sent me on the road. I clothed my six-month-old baby, fastened him on the back and I walked for miles and miles and miles. Until I saw some stranger and I knew this was the person I needed to talk to. Because of him or her God had sent me out on the road. I said what I needed to say and went home. Do you think that would be possible without God? Please, tell your friends that they need to continue to pray. God is answering their prayers.”
Hana carries us back in time. “You know, after Kim Il-Sung died in 1994, so many things changed in our country. Until that time, most people truly believed he was a god. After his death, we realized the leaders were humans like us. Then the famine came and oppression became worse. People became desperate. Since the death of Kim Il-Sung there is an enormous spiritual thirst among North Koreans. Many go to sorcerers or people are possessed by evil spirits. Even in hospitals, when the doctors cannot cure a patient, they tell them to find one of these sorcerers. These shamans demand to be paid with money, rice or other goods. Many succumb to their false religion. The good news is that others find God instead. You know why? Because our God heals sick people without asking something in return.
“I want to point out one more thing,” adds Hana. “North Koreans do not come to faith because we convince them by our words. Of course we need to verbally explain the gospel, but more importantly is that we put the gospel on display. God’s spirit really transformed me. I smiled all day, even though I lived in terrible circumstances. I shared my food, even though I had so little. People saw God’s Spirit at work in me.”
Jae-Hwa underlines the words of Hana. “Your prayer partners should not be discouraged by watching the news about North Korea. God is at work everywhere. I came to faith in a safe house in China after I escaped North Korea. You would be amazed to see how the Spirit is at work in these safe houses. So many people come to faith. That’s only possible thanks to you. We wouldn’t even exist without your prayers.”
*Names changed for security reasons
Nigeria: Prayers Asked for Victims of Massacre
As many as 106 people have died in Izghe village near the Cameroon border in Borno state, Nigeria, on Saturday when suspected Boko Haram members surrounded the village in trucks and motorcycles. They separated the Christians from the Muslims before killing them. Some were shot, while others had their throats slit. The attackers then looted the businesses and made off into the wilderness.
There were no security forces in the town at the time of the attack.
At the time of the report from the field there were still scores of bodies littering the streets of the village as people were too afraid to gather and bury them. Both Muslims and Christians have fled. The only ones left behind are the elderly who were unable to run away.
During the preceding week the government was doing aerial bombardment on Boko Haram hide-outs near Izghe and neighboring villages as part of its battle against the Islamist insurgency. President Goodluck Jonathan declared a State of Emergency in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states last May, but his government is facing increasing criticism for its failure to root out the rebels.
BBC reported last week that the governor of Borno state, Kashim Shettima, called for more troops to combat Boko Haram. He told media, “Frankly speaking, officers and men of the Nigerian army and the Nigerian police force are doing their best given the circumstances, but you and I know that Boko Haram are better armed and better motivated.”
Pray with us for the Lord’s comfort to His children who survived the horrors of Izghe. Pray for God’s abundant grace and that He would minister to them in their grief with His tender mercies.
For Christians in the northern states of Nigeria and particularly in the Borno, Yobe and Adamawa states. Pray that God would give them the grace they need to respond to these sufferings in a way that honors Christ
That the government will urgently do whatever is needed to protect the people of northern Nigeria.