A nationwide call to prayer throughout the United Kingdom focusing on North Korea has been issued by a human rights charity working on behalf of those persecuted for their Christian beliefs. According to news agencies, UK-based Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) is calling on Christians throughout the UK to remember North Korea in their prayers September 20-26.
The call to prayer has arisen as the dark secrets of life inside the isolationist Communist state have come to light, exposing the horrific persecution of Christians in the country, reported Assist News.
Due to its extreme isolationist policies, the situation of the churches in North Korea has long been concealed from the rest of the world. However, recent research and first-hand testimonies from survivors have recently provided a much clearer picture of the situation in the country. Christian agencies and humanitarian groups report that behind the wall of silence, the Communist regime has sought to decimate the Church, and that repression of Christianity has been “ruthless and thorough.”
Mervyn Thomas, CSW's Chief Executive, commented, "The needs in North Korea could not be greater. The darkness could not be more intense, the persecution more chilling and the need to pray more compelling.
“We urge Christians to seize this opportunity to intercede on behalf of their forgotten brothers and sisters in North Korea and the whole nation, cut off from the light and love of God by brainwashing and brutality. Please join us to bring light where there is darkness, hope where there is fear and love where there is such violence."
Many believe the persecution of Christians in North Korea may be the worst anywhere in the world. On the list of top 50 countries where Christians suffer the most, released each year by the Open Doors organization, North Korea has held on to the No. 1 position for several consecutive years.
According to reports, the isolation of North Korea has enabled the leaders to brainwash the population and teach them unquestioning obedience to their authority--Kim Il Sung (the 'Great Leader') and his son, Kim Jong Il (the 'Dear Leader'). No belief in a higher authority is tolerated and being a Christian is viewed as one of the most serious crimes. Even the word for God has been abolished in North Korea, sources report.
However, sources say it was not always like this. Before the Communist regime was installed, North Korea was regarded as some to be a center of revival, and Pyongyang was known as the Jerusalem of the East. In fact, many of the South Korean churches, which are known throughout the world for their phenomenal growth, were planted by North Koreans. But during the Korean War, most Christians fled to the South, or were martyred. Sources also say Kim Il Sung, the 'Great Leader', ordered that three generations of a Christian's family must be eliminated.
Many Christians have since then been publicly executed and others have been taken away to camps where they are subject to barbaric abuse and treated as sub-human. They are never allowed out of the camps, alive or dead, and are worked to death in brutal conditions and terrible deprivation. Christians suffer especially cruel treatment in these death camps as they are under ongoing pressure to renounce their faith. They are subject to frequent torture and abuse and are also forced to do the most grueling and dangerous work, both by guards, as punishment, and by fellow prisoners, who despise their faith as insanity.
Despite the horrific persecution, a few believers have managed to hold on to their faith.
“It is important that the Church should be aware of the terrible situation of its brothers and sisters who are holding on to their faith at such dear cost,” Assist reported. “It is hoped that through this awareness, the Church will be rallied to pray fervently for North Korea.”
As the Church worldwide lifts up North Korea in prayer, it will join with many South Koreans who have been praying earnestly for their brothers and sisters in the North for many years.
"The plight of the suffering church in North Korea is truly family business for the church in the West,” said Phil Wall, the Chief Executive of the leadership and personal development organization Signify. “They are our responsibility, our brothers and sisters and our co-workers in Christ. Please come and join us to do family business together as we pray for North Korea."
Wall, an international leadership trainer and executive coach and founder of an AIDS orphan charity called HopeHIV, will be hosting a special prayer event to take place on September 25 at St Michael's Church, Chester Square, London from 7 p.m.
There will also be a number of meetings providing the opportunity to learn and pray about the needs of the North Korean people. Details of other meetings can be obtained from the website www.csw.org.uk.