North Korea is number one on Open Doors’ World Watch List of Christian-persecuting countries. Nowhere else are Christians so fiercely persecuted. But the inspired writer of the book of Hebrews says that everything was put under the subjection of Jesus Christ (Hebrews 2:8). But, how do we see His supremacy in this country full of idols, hunger and death camps?
Kim Jong-Un is Kim Jong-Il’s third son and is effectively running the country now. A young man, still in his late twenties, he fights for a strong power base. North Koreans describe him as a horrible man with the unpredictable character of a dictator. Christians are a specific target group to his regime because they are loyal to another King, and the security services have stepped up their attempts to expose Christians. Recently security forces were successful in arresting Christians where, after a few months, they were either publicly executed or sent to a labor camp. For example, a middle-aged man was arrested and badly beaten after police found a Bible in his home. Released prisoners who witnessed the brutality said, “His face is deformed. He told us he is certain he will die.”
And yet the church in North Korea is growing. Christians who are able to keep their faith secret from the security service are surviving; many are even able to evangelize and disciple others. As Christians continue the “outward” rituals required of all North Koreans, they will occasionally gather together and enjoy the luxury of a small worship service where they cover up the pictures of Kim Il-Sung and Kim Jong-Il, bring out cookies, fruit and juice to celebrate in secret the Lord’s Supper, and sing and pray silently.
But there are always risks, and Christians are willing to sacrifice themselves for the Kingdom of God. “Every Christian in my country has the spirit of martyrdom in him,” states the friend of the above-mentioned man who was imprisoned and beaten for his faith. “If you lose that spirit for one second, you cannot carry the burden of being a follower of Jesus. My friend knew that one day he could get caught, and on that day he had to be steadfast in the faith and loyal to Jesus. I am convinced he can take the suffering because he constantly reminds himself of the joy that is set before him.” North Korean Christians make the decision when they come to faith that one day they will die for Christ.
Christians there also know that when they pray earnestly, God will answer. A Christian working with Open Doors helping North Korean Christians says, “Whenever we do a project with Open Doors, first we fast for seven, sometimes 10 days. Only when God tells us separately that we can continue with the project do we give the green light and carry out the project….Our believers are bolder and stronger than before, even though the persecution is also stronger.”
In their suffering, North Korean Christians show Christ’s supremacy because they look at the reward – Jesus Christ Himself, knowing that He is our Treasure. There is hope for North Korean Christians, because Christ has suffered and is supreme.
Lord Jesus, we grieve over the suffering of our fellow believers in North Korea. Today, in whatever difficult circumstances they find themselves, comfort them, give them courage, strengthen them to remain faithful and give them a clear vision of the joy set before them. Amen
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