North Korea is the most dangerous place in the world to be a follower of Jesus. Recently there have been reports that those who have fled the country have faced increased pressure from the North Korean government. A North Korea researcher told us:
“Family members of North Korean defectors are being held hostage in their own country. This could be to keep the defectors from working with human rights groups and churches, or even to pressure the refugees to come back. Sometimes these returning defectors are being trained to become spies and then sent out again. This is not voluntary, of course. They have no choice.”
But all is not lost. Open Doors asked two former secret believers, Hana and Jae-Hwa*, about the situation:
Hana is passionate about the reality of what God is doing. “Of course God is at work! Of course prayers help! I am such a weak person. I hardly had any Bible knowledge, but God used me to explain the gospel to others.
“Sometimes, God sent me on the road. I walked for miles and miles, until I saw some stranger and I knew this was the person I needed to talk to. Because of him or her, God had sent me out on the road. I said what I needed to say and went home. Do you think that would be possible without God? Please, tell your friends that they need to continue to pray. God is answering their prayers.”
Jae-Hwa agrees. “Your prayer partners should not be discouraged by watching the news about North Korea. God is at work everywhere”.
Christians in North Korea must keep their faith completely secret, and often can’t even tell their closest family members that they trust in Jesus. Anyone who dares to believe in a higher authority than the Kim family is considered an enemy of the state and, according to the Open Doors researcher, North Korean secret agents have been more active in targeting South Korean human rights activists and South Korean missionaries who work with North Korean refugees.
And yet the church in North Korea is steadily growing. Open Doors estimates there are between 200,000 and 400,000 Christians in North Korea, of whom 50-70,000 are suffering horrifying conditions in labour camps. As enemies of the state, Christians are either executed or put to forced labour and often tortured. Most never escape.
Together with local Chinese Christians, Open Doors runs some safe houses for North Koreans in China. Often believers only stay a couple of days, sometimes a few weeks. Once it is established that somebody is genuinely interested in learning more about the Bible, they will meet in a secret location with a trained co-worker of Open Doors to do just that. We also provide them with Christian materials if they request them. Your prayers and support are enabling people to hear about Jesus for the first time!
Dear God, thank you that You are stronger than any human powers, and that Your will cannot be stopped by heightened surveillance and any other measures. Please protect Your children in North Korea from imprisonment and execution, continue to spread Your Word in the country, and use Open Doors secret workers to provide shelter and training to North Korean believers in China. We ask this for Your glory, Amen.
Choosing to follow Jesus takes courage in North Korea. Get your free copy of our new Guts and Courage resource to learn more about the places in the world where Christians face pressure, violence and intimidation for their faith and get inspired to live out your walk with God with more boldness…
We support people who are beaten, tortured,
imprisoned, falsely accused, and hated simply for following Jesus.