North Korea is one of the most dangerous places in the world to follow Jesus. An Open Doors contact has now heard the tragic news that an underground church has been discovered, and all its members killed. Please keep praying for courageous believers following Jesus no matter the cost.
When Christians in North Korea meet to pray, they know it comes with enormous risk. Any gathering must be done in total secrecy. If it is discovered that they are Christians, they’ll be killed or face indefinite periods in appalling labour camps. After many years as number one on the Open Doors World Watch List, North Korea is now number two – though persecution is worse than ever before.
Recently, Open Doors contacts heard from a reliable source the tragic news that several dozen North Korean believers in an underground church have been discovered, and have been executed. They have paid the ultimate cost for following Jesus – knowing that ‘to live is Christ, and to die is gain’ (Philippians 1:21).
This persecution is part of a major sweep against underground Christians in an area of North Korea that we can’t identify, as it wouldn’t be safe to do so. These secret believers were gathered for a meeting and, once they began worshipping, security guards broke in and arrested everybody. Not only were these Christians executed, it is believed that over 100 members of their families have been rounded up and sent to political camps. It is a common fear tactic in North Korea to extend a punishment not just to the supposed culprit, but also their loved ones.
The source who spoke to Open Doors contacts believes that the information about the time and place of the underground meeting was deliberately leaked to the authorities.
In North Korea, where worshipping any god who isn’t Kim Jong-Un is strictly forbidden, Christianity is considered a threat to the government and the Kim family. This has intensified recently, possibly to quell any rebellion caused by the Covid-19 crisis. The ‘anti-reactionary thought law’ was enacted in late 2020, and has tightened controls over external information (such as videos and radio broadcasts) and increased punishments for any perceived infringements. The law has made it even more difficult for underground church leaders and members to worship and pray together.
Despite everything, our courageous church family in North Korea continue to proclaim the eternal victory of the Lord Almighty. This is an excerpt from a secret letter, smuggled out of the country by an underground church leader:
“Just like the scripture, John 14:27, ‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid,’ how worthy of thanks it is that God knows when we walk in the shadow of death and tribulation. That when we fall into fear, anxiety, worry and despair, He pours out His peace and joy, so that we can keep our body, hearts and spirits filled with peace and joy from the Kingdom of God.”
It’s really hard to read stories like this. We can feel helpless, in the face of such extreme persecution. Open Doors secret networks in China are keeping tens of thousands of North Korea believers alive with aid, and other North Korean believers are supported at safe houses in China. The scale of the persecution facing North Korean Christians is hard to fathom, though. One of the most important things we can do is keep praying.
Please pray for persecuted Christians in North Korea, who are constantly at great risk of death. Please pray for underground believers when they try to live out the Word of God, pray in secret, read from scriptures, sing hymns, meet as small groups, or do anything in the name of Jesus – ask that God will carefully heed their voices, protect them from any outside attacks, and bless them, their families, their homes and their villages.
Please pray that God will strengthen their hearts, mend their souls, and provide everything they need so that they will experience overflowing joy and peace from God that the world cannot give. Please pray for North Korea as a whole – that the Lord will restore the country, the people ‘will follow His degrees and be careful to keep His laws’, and that ‘they will be His people and He will be their God’ (Ezekiel 11:20).
It is hard to conceive of the threat facing Your faithful children in North Korean – but thank You that You know and love them, and promise ‘a gift the world cannot give’ (John 14:27 NLT). Please pour out your peace and joy on the persecuted church in North Korea, strengthen and encourage those in labour and political camps, and bring justice to this nation.
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