North Korea (MNN) — Few were fooled by North Korea's attempt to prove to the world on Sunday's Day of the Sun that the North Korean people are all prosperous, happy, and free. In fact, while the nation was putting on airs, Open Doors was calling for prayers, asking Christians to celebrate a Day of the Son through constant intercession for persecuted believers.
North Korea is known for its human rights violations. Just last week, the nation spent $850 million on a failed missile launch attempt, while millions of North Koreans are literally starving to death. People are forced to believe in the religion created by Kim Il-Sung and his family. Freedom of religion is non-existent.
"North Korea is the worst nation in the world as far as persecution of Christians. In fact, they've been on the Open Doors World Watch List for ten years in a row as the worst persecutors of Christians–and for good reason," says Jerry Dykstra with Open Doors USA.
"There is 50,000 to 70,000 Christians held in prisons–they're political prisoners," Dykstra adds. "In fact, North Korea holds more political prisoners overall–estimated at over 200,000–than any other country in the world."
Prayer is vital for this country where rulers are assumed to be gods and up to three generations of a family can be punished for owning a Bible. Dykstra even reflects on one occasion where elementary school kids were told they would receive a prize if they found a "black book" at home and told the teacher. North Korea's children were unknowingly ratting out their parents' faith.
"[North Korean contacts] said it's a living hell there. But they said they're so grateful for our prayers," notes Dykstra. "That's what keeps them going–knowing that people in the West are praying for them and not forgetting them."
With all this in mind, Open Doors is making North Korea Freedom Week a week of prayer. From April 23 to 29, Open Doors is asking believers to pray with them for the many needs in North Korea–from Christians' safety to leaders' salvation. Even this week, Open Doors is sending out daily opportunities for people to petition for freedom in North Korea. Sign up here.
"In light of this terrible persecution, the Word is going out in a mighty way. There are up to 400,000 Christians in North Korea," notes Dykstra. The Lord is moving–and will continue to, especially as believers pray. Consider encouraging North Korean brothers and sisters in Christ by standing with them in prayer. This video will give you some preliminary ideas of ways you can pray.