SANTA ANA, Calif. (Nov. 24, 2010) – Open Doors is calling for prayers for Christians in both South and North Korea during the increase of tensions in the area.
North Korea is predictable in its unpredictability. Its leaders have done everything they could to create a crisis on the Korean peninsula. Its army torpedoed and sank a South Korean navy vessel earlier this year. Last Sunday it became known that North Korea opened new facilities to enrich uranium.
When that didn’t have the desired effect and South Korea continued to perform military exercises, North Korea attacked the island of Yeonpyeong on Tuesday. The artillery bombardment killed four and injured 15 others. The South Korean president called for retaliation. Nobody knows what will happen, but Open Doors founder Brother Andrew always asks one question: “is there a Church there?”
Even though the shelling of Yeongpyeong is the worst escalation of violence since the 1953 armistice, the strategy behind it is remarkably predictable, and also ruthless and effective. Kim Jong-un, named successor of his father Kim Jong-Il, needs to show the country – and the world for that matter – how strong he is. And he needs a way to extract economic aid and other concessions. By North Korea creating a sense of urgency for the Six-Party Talks, which are vital for the surviving of the Democratic Republic of Korea, as it is officially called, the leaders distract the international community from addressing their human rights and food crises.
In his book, “Prayer – The Real battle,” Brother Andrew, challenges Christians to ask one question whenever a crisis occurs somewhere on the globe: “Is there a Church?” There is a Church on both sides of the demilitarized zone that separates the North from the South. But they couldn’t be more different.
Whereas South Korean Christians worship God freely in their churches, their approximately 400,000 North Korean brothers and sisters struggle for survival and are persecuted mercilessly. For eight straight years North Korea has held the No. 1 spot on Open Doors’ World Watch List of countries where it’s most oppressive for a Christian to live. Even the possession of a Bible can get an entire family killed or sent to a prison camp. Usually no one leaves the camps alive.
Many Christians can only worship God when their entire household is Christian. Singing and praying aloud are too dangerous. Telling your children about Christ is too risky. Parents tell their children Bible stories as if the stories were fairy tales. It’s the only way parents can share some of their faith. Meeting Christians outside your family is virtually impossible. Only on rare occasions can Christians worship or share together.
Between 50,000 and 70,000 Christians are in labor camps because of their faith. In total there are hundreds of thousands of prisoners in political camps, prisons and re-education camps. In September many prisoners and people sentenced to labor camps were pardoned because of the Party Congress held that month. But the empty camps needed a new workforce. The People’s Safety Ministry arrested many others and created a fresh population for the camps.
Open Doors supports the North Korean Christians in secret with Bibles, books, education and relief aid. Often Open Doors receives “thank you” letters from church leaders. In each letter they thank the global Church for the support provided through Open Doors and for their love. In each letter they call for prayer.
In the words of one church leader: “I am very proud to see our believers’ faithful lives becoming more and more stabilized. Their lives are in danger everyday and still they follow the Lord. This could have not been possible if it wasn’t for your endless effort and love towards our believers. Please continue to pray for us.”
Please pray for:
- A peaceful solution for the current conflict and wisdom for leaders of all the involved parties.
- Endurance, strength and protection for the Church.
- Pray for Open Doors’ work in strengthening persecuted Christians in North Korea.