North Korea (MNN) — North Korea’s at it again. They’ve detained yet another U.S. tourist–the second in six months–affirmed their nuclear ambitions, and are continuing to flex their military muscle near the border with South Korea.
Dan Reichard with Advancing Native Missions says North Korea aggression is par for the course.
“As far as the nuclear saber-rattling, this is not unusual,” he notes. “It is the proverbial powder-keg, and it seems that at this point, all of this is very calculated.
“But there’s nothing predictable about North Korea.”
According to South Korean officials, North Korea has completed the final steps needed for conducting a nuclear test, Reuters reports. A North Korea expert in China told Arirang News yesterday that the Hermit Nation will conduct its fourth nuclear test “sooner or later.” While North Korea has performed three nuclear tests since 2006 in clear violation of UN law, it’s not believed to have anything small enough yet to deliver via missile.
Long-held as the worst place in the world to be a Christian according to both the Open Doors World Watch List and Human Rights Watch, North Korea’s state religion leaves no room for Christianity. Believers face torture, imprisonment, even public execution if their faith is discovered.
“The abuse they [believer] received was so much greater than the abuse other prisoners got,” Soon Ok Lee tells Open Doors USA. She spent six years in a North Korean prison.
“In the years I was in prison, I saw many believers die. Yet they never denied God.”
Earlier this year, the UN published a report documenting North Korea’s horrific human rights violations. The most severe abuses include systematic extermination, torture, rape, forced abortions, and mass starvation.
Despite the heavy price tag attached to Christianity, an estimated 120,000-200,000 North Koreans follow the Lord in secret. ANM helps indigenous ministries in neighboring countries that support and encourage the Underground Church.
“We help with humanitarian needs, as well as sharing the Gospel with them,” shares Reichard.
“We’re involved right now in a project of sending Android tablets with SD cards that [have] everything from evangelistic films in the North Korean language to pastor’s training.”
Additional ministry efforts supported by ANM include the deployment of “Gospel balloons” and medical supplies from bordering countries into North Korea, a Martyrs Fund that helps the families of imprisoned pastors, and Christian radio broadcasts. ANM partners send radios into the country so believers can listen; normal North Korean radios can’t pick up the channel.
As more and more countries–including North Korea–close to Western missionaries, Reichard says the role of the Western Church is changing. Nonetheless, there are several ways you can pray, give, and go to support the North Korean Church.
Prayer is the first and most vital response, according to Reichard. Pray for secret believers attending some 2,000 underground churches in North Korea. Pray that Christians will have courage when faced with persecution.
Along with the projects described above, ANM also supports North Korean pastors.
“We’re able to fully support a pastor in North Korea, to take care of his family and ministry needs, for $11 a month,” says Reichard.
“Many of our pastors who are in North Korea are people…who escaped, came to know Christ in neighboring countries, and willingly have gone back into North Korea to evangelize their people.”
While it’s not possible for Western missionaries to enter North Korea, you can pray for the country from one of its bordering nations. Click here to contact the ANM office for details.