Christianity in North Korea
Untold numbers of Christians are living in North Korea today. Many face daily the possibility of undergoing severe persecution. However, in the midst of this reality these same Christians find great strength in Jesus Christ. One man writes, “As long as we live, we will only serve the Father, the Holy Son and the Holy Spirit. We will fully devote ourselves to educate the future generations and keep peace within our organizations.”
These Christians rely on the prayers of faithful saints around the world. Please pray:
1. About the current North Korea crisis. The regime is unpredictable and its intentions are unclear with their nuclear tests. Pray that the people of North Korea will not be victimized.
2. For ongoing trust between UNICEF, other non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and North Korea; this opens opportunities to serve in the country.
3. For the continuing distribution of vaccinations to children and essential medicines to hospitals.
4. That many North Koreans will seek God with all their hearts and find him.
5. That God may open doors for the written Word and the gospel to reach North Korea.
6. For facilities for the growing number of young, homeless North Koreans without shoes or amenities so that they will not perish from cold during the winter.
While officiating at a wedding on 3 June 2006, Pastor Mocsin L. Hasim received a text message on his cell phone: “Pastor, you will die today.” The 47-year old Filipino pastor had been receiving death threats for months. He brushed it off. After the wedding, he and his 22-year-old daughter, Mercilyn, headed home by motorcycle. Their bodies were later found near their motorcycle in an isolated area of Zamboanga Del Norte province in Western Mindanao. Pastor Hasim had been shot nineteen times, mostly in the back. Mercilyn was shot five times.
There were no known witnesses to the gruesome killings, but police suspect that there were three gunmen, possibly new members of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), a Muslim rebel group with a long history of armed conflict against the national government. One of the pastor’s nieces noted, “Some Muslim extremists in the area were inviting him to embrace Islam once again, but he refused.”
Pastor Hasim was affiliated with the Christian and Missionary Alliance Church of the Philippines. For the last ten years he had been reaching out to the Kalibugan tribe, a mix of the Subanen and other Muslim tribes. They are considered to be the fiercest among the thirteen Muslim tribes in the Philippines.
Today more than 200 million Christians are being persecuted worldwide for their faith in Jesus Christ.
Pastor Hasim had shown the JESUS Film in various places. He was bold in sharing the gospel to his own people. After the initial murder investigation, the police took no further action. That is the reality of living in countries hostile to Christians.
This is one recent story from the persecuted Church. There are many more stories. In fact, over 200 million of them. That’s because today more than 200 million Christians are being persecuted worldwide for their faith in Jesus Christ.
Earlier this year Open Doors released the 2006 World Watch List of the top fifty countries where believers face the most severe persecution. The variety and intensity of persecution continues to increase around the world. Communism remains a major source of persecution for millions of believers—especially in North Korea—the number one persecutor of Christians. Terrible things are happening to Christians at the hands of Hindu and Buddhist radicals. And, of course, Islamic extremism is on the rise everywhere.
I recently had the privilege of speaking at a seminary graduation ceremony in India. It was an incredible experience to look into the eyes of eighty-five graduates who were preparing to march back into Hindu and Muslim strongholds for the cause of Christ, all knowing they would face almost certain harsh persecution. The global Church needs to come alongside these—and others—who are bolding sharing their faith.
One way for Christians to support and strengthen persecuted Christians is having your church or small group observe the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church (IDOP). This worldwide event brings together thousands of churches in a special day of prayer. This year the IDOP will be held Sunday, 12 November.
The IDOP began in 1996 through the efforts of a variety of denominations and faith-based organizations and has grown from a core group of seven thousand churches to one of the largest prayer day events in the world. Christians in 130 countries will join thousands of churches from almost every denomination to stand behind those who suffer for their faith by providing prayer support and other advocacy efforts.
Open Doors believes that prayer is the most powerful weapon in our arsenal. Hundreds of believers I have met on the field ask for one thing: “Please pray for us!” The most the free world can do is the least it can do—PRAY! The persecuted Church is hard-pressed on every side, but by God’s grace, it is not destroyed (2 Corinthians 4 8-9). God is doing the kind of work only he can do—using persecution to impart spiritual strength to believers and grow his Church.