Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Persecuted Church: North Korea

Through the Voice of the Martyrs conference I learned so many heart breaking things about North Korea.

I was so intrigued and perplexed by the speaker that I was afraid that if I stopped to take notes, that I would miss something.

Every word he said was important.

I learned that North Korea is the only country in the world that was founded with the intent to corrupt christianity.

I encourage you to research the country's history, because I, as I mentioned, did not take the focus off the speaker long enough to worry about recording the names and dates, and there are many details I have forgotten.

I do know that the religion of North Korea is called Juche, and the leader of North Korea is the god of the country. The nation has also been taught to believe that his father (the previous leader) was the creator of the world and their race. The father, the son, and the wife/mother, make up the trinity of this religion. The religon was created to parallel christianity in so many ways, that often times when one hears about Christ, they wonder why Christianity is trying to copy them.

Services are held to worship the leader, much like our church services. Hymns praising his name are sung. And there is absolutely no room to refuse.

I also learned that North Korea is the hardest country in the world to not only be a Christian, but to hear the gospel.

In 1977 the government announced to the world that the country had been completely rid of all Christians. The world either denied or ignored the fact that this meant the mass annihilation of human beings.

Apparently, somehow a few, or maybe just one or two Christians survived. And from these seeds planted among the thorns, the faith has not only managed to survive, but to multiply. Although mulitplying is a seemingly impossible task, it is being done.

Every home in North Korea is responsible not only for themselves, but for two homes on either side of them. If suspicious activity is happening two doors down, and you fail to report it to the government, your punishment is equally severe as those committing the "crime." Suspicious activity includes the gathering of people, any more than two, which makes communication difficult.

Currently the strategic ways the gospel is being taken to North Korea are through balloon drops, ministering to North Koreans who temporarily enter China on work visas, and through sneaky communication to family members by those who have escaped.

Often times you can tell those who have just escaped from North Korea because they are a foot shorter than a healthy sized Korean due to malnutrition, and because they are often times green.

Unless a family is in the elite group who has no offenses against the government in any of their family line, they do not recieve food rations. Therefore they live off of plants and tree bark, giving them a greenish complexion.

An estimated 1/3 of all Christians in North Korea live in concentration camps. These camps differ from those of the Nazi regime. Those in the camps live where they work. There are no beds/buildings for them to sleep in at night. There are no food rations. There is working, then sleeping in the same area, and waking to do it all again until death. Many concentration camps are mines. Once a person goes in, they often will not leave the mine again. That is where they sleep and work until they die.

Other than concentration camps, those who are caught with any suspicion of Christianity are subject to all kinds of testing. Frankensteinian medicine, which I mentioned before, as well testing chemical weapons. Christians are used as guinea pigs to see just how much chemical can make a person absolutely crazy or disformed without completely killing them.

The torture of Christians in North Korea is absolutely among the worst in the world. Because of the strict government control, the small number of Christians there (believed to possibly be as many as 100,000) are flashing targets. But although they experience great suffering because of their faith, the church continues on, and people continue to be saved.

The story of North Korea is not a very happy one, but it is not without a glimmer of hope. It is a story we need to hear. As Christians we need to be armed with knowledge to fight against the battle the persecuted church is facing. We must remember that these suffering people, they are our family. We share the blood of Christ.

Please join me in praying for North Korea.


Renee Ann said...

Thanks for this series. It's difficult to think of but I know I must be praying. Voice of the Martyrs is doing great work! Two books really brought home the need to pray for the persecuted church and also spurred me to give thanks every day for my church and the Christian school where I teach. One was Safely Home by Randy Alcorn, about a pastor in China. The other was Daughter of China by C. Hope Flinchbaugh. Have you read them?

Cathrine said...

I had no idea....none.

Mark Langham said...

Thank you for the history of this. Whenever over the years I have found myself engaged in conversation about martyrdom I have found people to be very dismissive and often think its Christian propaganda. I think framing the argument with the historical element adds weight and credibility for the non-believer.

Rebecca said...

@Renee Ann- Thank you so much for reading...I know its a hard thing to swallow. I haven't read either of those books. I have read some by Richard Wurmbrand (the founder of VOM), and I am reading Hearts of Fire right now (the stories of various women...published by VOM). I will put those books on my list though, as we had a speaker from China as well, and I am interested to read more. I find after I read such a book, I have to take a break for a couple months before reading another.

@Cathrine- I have to say I had read a bit about North Korea, but compared to what I learned, I knew pretty much nothing about the country as well.

@Mark- I really wish I could remember more of the facts, because the speaker went so much in depth with the history and the religion, I know there is a lot I left out (and the actual facts told by North Koreans may be hard to find. What I found on the internet seemed much "nicer")