North Korea (MNN) — Another U.S. citizen has been detained in North Korea. 56-year-old Jeffrey Fowle is reportedly being kept in the country because officials found a Bible in his hotel room.
“At this point, all the North Koreans have said is that they’ve detained this man, that he was doing activities that were not consistent with what his visa said he was doing,” notes Voice of the Martyrs USA spokesman Todd Nettleton.
“The word that he had a Bible in his room came from Japanese press reports about the arrest. That is not something that’s been confirmed by the North Korean government.”
Fowle joins a 24-year-old American who tried to enter the country in April and Korean-American missionary Kenneth Bae, who was detained in November 2012 and later sentenced to 15 years of hard labor.
Pray for the safe release of each captive.
“While we are obviously monitoring the situation for these Americans, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to persecution in North Korea,” Nettleton shares.
North Korea’s Persecution
For the past 12 years, Open Doors USA has ranked North Korea as the world’s absolute worst persecutor of Christians on its World Watch List. It’s illegal to follow Christ in this country, and according to VOM, some 30,000 North Korean believers are currently wasting away in labor camps or they’re enduring starvation and unimaginable torture in one of four political prisons.
These camps and North Korea’s campaign against Christianity are the equivalent of a modern-day Holocaust.
“People need to understand that any known Christian in North Korea is arrested. If you are thought that you might be a Christian, you’re arrested. But it’s not just you: it’s also your children, it’s also your parents,” adds Nettleton.
The North Korean regime believes that if they round up three generations of family members connected to a known Christian, they can eliminate the entire religion, he adds.
Why is following Jesus such a crime?
“The North Korean people are taught that [the Kim family] are divine beings, and so Christianity undermines that,” explains Nettleton. “It undermines, literally, the very foundation of the North Korean government.”
Show Your Support
VOM’s sole focus is supporting and advocating for persecuted Christians around the world. Following the arrest and subsequent release in late 2013 of a fourth American, 85-year-old Merrill Newman, Nettleton says they were inspired to start a “Letter of Support” campaign for oppressed believers in North Korea.
After being detained for about a month-and-a-half, Newman was sent home by North Korean officials after he read a forced confession.
“They told him exactly what to write; there were North Korean officials who read it closely. They wanted him to say exactly what they said,” explains Nettleton.
VOM’s idea for a “confession letter” addressed to North Korea’s government sprang from there. Nettleton says they’re inviting believers around the world to “confess” their loyalty to God and their persecuted brothers and sisters, and admit knowledge and awareness of the horrific ways North Korea treats Christians.
Over 10,000 people have digitally signed their letter so far, Nettleton says.
“We’re going to deliver these letters to the North Korean delegation to the United Nations,” he adds. “We are hopeful that they will know the world is watching and the world is aware of how Christians are being treated inside North Korea.
“The risks of being a Christian are incredible. And yet, there are people who are following Jesus. They are boldly standing for Christ, in spite of what their government says. The Letter of Confession campaign is one small way that we can stand with them.”
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“Our goal is a million of these letters: a million people who know what’s happening in North Korea,” shares Nettleton, “a million people who are praying for believers in North Korea, as well as for North Korean government officials to come to know the Lord.”