At least 18 international agencies including Christian Solidarity Worldwide, The China Aid Association, Open Doors, Promise Keepers and the National Association of Evangelicals (USA) will be participating in the Global Week of Prayer for North Korea in June.
While the Global Week of Prayer will be held in Jun. 19-25, a precluding Seoul Wailing Prayer Meeting starts Feb. 28 thru Mar. 1. For the first prayer vigil hosted by the Korean Christian Coalition in Seoul, an estimated 6,000 pastors and 26,000 Christians are expected to attend.
The new website for the Global Week of Prayer for North Korea was launched, yesterday, to coincide with the start of the largest international prayer vigil in Seoul.
"We believe North Korea deserves to be high on the worldwide Church’s agenda and that, as awareness rises," said Elizabeth Batha, Christian Solidarity Worldwide International Advocate. "Even the word for God is banned and most Christians have been killed or sent to the gulag."
Batha, a co-pioneer of the Global Week of Prayer and a speaker at the Wailing Prayer Meeting, believes that Christians worldwide are indebted to North Korea for its role in the movement of the Holy Spirit.
"Ninety-nine years ago North Korea was a center for revival and many of the mega churches in South Korea that are looked to as examples of church growth around the world were planted by those fleeing from North Korea," Batha said. "Now is the time to raise up a concert of prayer that will see that blessing flood back into North Korea. We urge all believers to get on board, to participate in the Week and to visit the new website to see how they can get involved."
Mobilized by The China Aid Association, one of the co-organizers of the prayer campaign, Chinese Christians will pray in solidarity with North Korean "brothers."
In a telephone interview with China Aid Association president, Bob Fu, the Gospel Herald was able to receive information on how the sole Chinese agency to participate in the Global Week of Prayer will mobilize the Chinese community in support of North Korean believers.
"We're not only mobilizing the Chinese and American churches here in the United States, but collaborating with the Chinese house churches within China," he said. According to Fu, those in the Chinese House churches are especially willing to offer their prayers to North Korean believers, since they too have suffered persecution at the hands of a repressive regime for the last five decades.
"The Bible tells us to rejoice with those who rejoice and mourn with those who mourn. I believe that the [Chinese] house church believers have the alliance in spirit with the persecuted believers in North Korea," he said. "That is a natural spiritual alliance. The many believers from North Korea who are fleeing into China are not being seen as refugees and migrant, but as spiritual brothers with the same type [of] dreams.
Fu added that Chinese house church leaders residing near the Korean border in northeast China often provide shelter for North Korean refugees risking their lives and the safety of their families.
Each year, unknown numbers of North Korean cross the border into China to escape the starvation, and religious and political persecution associated with the regime of North Korean dictator Kim Jung-Il.
Fu hopes that by receiving prayer from Christians worldwide, the situation of North Korea’s refugees may improve. He also urged Chinese believers in America to show more concern for the situation.
"Our most powerful weapon is prayer," Bob said. "With our network in the U.S., we are receiving more acceptance and responses from American church communities rather than Chinese communities."
CAA listed the following topics for believers to consider while praying for North Korea:
1. Pray for the suffering refugees that God be able to enable paths for them to ease their suffering. Pray for their families who are still in North Korea.
2. Pray for Chinese authorities to make an honest acknowledgment to North Korean refugees as international refugees instead of labeling them as economic migrants, and using that as an excuse to deport them.
3. Pray for the United States government to ease visa restrictions so that North Korean refugees can seek political and religious asylum in America, rather than being sent to live in South Korea. Pray for South Korean Christians to help their government understand and welcome the North Koreans warmly instead of treating them as a burden.
The U.S. State department estimates between 10,000 and 30,000 North Korean refugees are in hiding in northeastern China. Several non-governmental groups estimate between 100,000 to 300,000. The situation for the refugees does not necessarily improve once they cross the border. If caught by Chinese authorities, the refugees are extradited back to North Korea where they face stiff prison terms. The local government offers substantial rewards for citizens who turn in the refugees.
According to the 2005 report released by the U.S. Congressional-Executive Commission on China, more than 75 per cent of North Korean immigrants are women, who are often "forced into prostitution or other exploitative relationship by professional brokers."
The commission also reports that children making the risky border crossing have no access to schools in China and turn to begging. Some refugees, it adds, take shelter in caves to avoid the harsh northern climate, while "others move from one hiding place to another to avoid detection by public security forces or by Chinese citizens who receive government rewards for informing police of refugees' locations."
To find out more about the Global Week of Prayer for North Korea, and information on all participating agencies, visit the website.