North Korea (MNN) — Now that campaigning is over, it’s time to see the new president put action behind their words. One big question, especially for international Christian ministries, is where international religious freedom falls on their priority list.
The International Day of Prayer for the persecuted Church was just this past Sunday. It was a pertinent reminder of how big of an issue religious freedom really is. That includes the challenges Christians face in North Korea — the country that has taken the first spot on the World Watch List for 14 consecutive years.
We spoke with Patrick Klein of Vision Beyond Borders about this issue, and he points out much of what is going on is spiritual.
According to The Joshua Project, over 69 percent of the North Korean population is non-religious. However, worship of the leaders, especially Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, is greatly encouraged if not coerced. It’s all a part of the state philosophy called Juche meaning “self-reliance”, and shapes the country on many fronts.
Klein says citizens must wear pins of the leaders around and at night when the streets of the cities are dark, statues and murals of the leaders remain lit up. In the houses there are usually paintings of the Kim family on the walls. Propaganda is a part of everyday life. Klein says it takes a significant role in child education as kids are taught about the miraculous powers of the leaders. However, buying into these lies leave the people empty.
“This is really demonic because these men have been dead for years! And it’s like they have such a stronghold over the country, and it’s such a grip. And it’s like, Lord, the only thing that’s going to change North Korea is you, Lord.”
As we know, Communism is inherently against Christianity. North Korea views the Christian faith as a Western religion. Open Doors USA says while we cannot get an exact sense of what goes on in this country, we know Christians get sent to labor camps. Intimidation keeps many Christians silent about their faith. However, the resistance to Christianity has not dampened the desire for true hope.
“People are searching. I think what happens too is sometimes people are able to leave and go to China and they are exposed to the Gospel, hear the Gospel, they go back in and share that,” Klein says.
He reminds us that no power of man can keep the Holy Spirit out of a country or even out of people’s lives.
With this nation in mind, we encourage you to join us in prayer. Patrick leads:
“Father, we just come humbly in the name of Jesus and we lift up to you the country of North Korea. We pray that you would touch these people. Lord, we know you love these people — that they’re created in your image, and they’re created to worship you and have a relationship with you.
“Father, we pray that you would open ways to get the Gospel in to these people, that they would hear the truth of Jesus Christ, that they’d find forgiveness for their sins, and they’d find reason to live, Lord Jesus. And that, Lord, they would see the truth about their leaders and they would see the truth about you. Jesus, you gave your life, so we could have forgiveness of sins, and have eternal life. And so, Father, I pray that they’d see how empty the Juche is […].
“Lord, I pray for Kim Jong-un himself. Lord, I pray you convict this man of sin, of righteousness, and judgement to come. I pray that you would be with the North Korean leaders on their beds, that you would speak to them at night when no one’s around them […] and that you’d convict these people – that they’d see their need of Jesus Christ.
“And now, Lord, I pray that you’d raise up a very strong Church in North Korea and, Father, I pray you’d show us in the West and around the world how we can help our brothers and sisters in North Korea, because we know you love them.
“We pray for those who are persecuted today that are in labor camps. We pray you’d strengthen them today, we pray you’d encourage them, we pray that the Word that they do know, that your Holy Spirit would bring those Scriptures to mind. And then, Father, we pray they’d be a bold witness for you even in those labor camps. And we pray that what the devil has meant for harm, then Lord you’d use it for your glory, that many will come to faith in Jesus Christ. We just thank you Father, and we love you, Lord. In Jesus’ precious name, Amen.”