Published: 00:01 GMT Standard Time - Thursday 18 March 2010
Praying for the Persecuted Church in Lent - North Korea
Country/Region: Korea, North
Christian life in North Korea is sustained through hundreds of underground churches. The punishments for being a Christian and taking part in religious activity (outside the government’s few “show churches”) range from fines to imprisonment and even execution. The prison camps are notorious for brutal treatment, starvation and torture, sometimes to death. It is believed that one in five Christians is in a camp and that as many as 400 a year are executed. Security officers pretend to be Christians and pastors to identify and trap real Christians. The authorities then arrest three generations in a family for the “crime” committed by one of its members.
The Christian faith is particularly feared by the authorities, as a threat to the dominant ideology of Juche (self-reliance), which has almost the status of a religion, and the cult of the Leader. No other religion or allegiance is acceptable. But Christians also share in the desperate poverty and hunger of the population at large.
Christianity was first introduced to Korea by missionaries in the late eighteenth century. Despite a ban and persecution, a hundred years later Korea had become one of the most Christianised countries in Asia. But in 1945 the north of the Korean Peninsula was occupied by the then Soviet Union, and this territory soon became the new nation of North Korea, under Stalinist rule.
In 1948 Kim Il-Sung became president and introduced the principle of Juche. All religions were outlawed, and in the face of savage repression the number of Christians initially declined. But a presence remained, and remarkably the Church appears now to be growing. A recent estimate put its membership at between 200,000 and 400,000 people.
Christian bakeries (Ref. 86-642)
North Korea is one of the worst places in the world to be a Christian.
- Pray for our suffering Christian family in this harsh and repressive environment, that they will remain faithful to the Lord.
- Give thanks for the growth of the churches, and pray that this will continue.
- Pray too for social and political change in North Korea. Last year the apparently ailing leader Kim Jong-Il (69) named his youngest son Kim Jong-Un as his successor. Pray for a more lenient government to develop, which will no longer seek to destroy the Church.