By Dr. Carl Moeller
President/CEO Open Doors USA
Radio news icon Paul Harvey, who died earlier this year, was best known for his long-running series "The Rest of the Story," which focused on stories behind mainstream news.
One story behind the headlines is what is currently occurring in the hermit communist country of North Korea.
During the last month North Korea has caught the attention of the world with its threats and saber rattling leading up to the controversial launching of a long-range rocket, which it allegedly plans to carry out April 4-8. The United States and its allies, including South Korea, have warned North Korea that a test launch could have consequences.
But what about the people inside North Korea, which includes an estimated 400,000 brave and faithful Christians?
According to a new Open Doors report, the warlike buildup is a nightmare for most North Korean citizens. Officials have ordered citizens to gather 15 days worth of war provisions, and even young students are forced to transport ammunition boxes.
Stressing that it was a favor from the "great leader," North Koreans received a special ration of corn and rice in honor of Kim Jong Il's birthday on February 16. But the lives of these residents are getting worse. The crisis in the world's economy has reached North Korea. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. A small number of the governing class are purchasing foreign goods from China. Their houses are full of rare, expensive goods from overseas, according to the report. Meanwhile, people are dying from starvation.
The following letter was recently received by Open Doors from a Christian in North Korea, which for seven years in a row is the No. 1 persecutor of Christians, according to Open Doors' World Watch List.
"The current living conditions in our country are very bad. The price of rice continues to increase. Recently five women from our neighborhood were publicly executed; the youngest only age 28. Valuable lives have been lost. Their crime? Trying to survive by looking for food. After their execution, we were no longer allowed to trade at the market. What should we do? Nevertheless, we are not afraid to starve. We have already received support from Christians worldwide. We do our best to spread God's Word in North Korea. Thank you again for your ongoing prayers, care and support."
North Korean church leaders have started a prayer campaign for evangelization in North Korea, according to the Open Doors report. The North Korean society is extremely unstable. Believers see this as an opportunity to develop and reinforce their church organization. They strive for both quantitative and qualitative growth, according to the report. They are becoming more united, even though the situation for believers has worsened. North Korean authorities have stepped up their measures for exposing all underground church members by increasing surveillance of Christians and making house searches even more severe.
North Korean believers have asked the church in the West to keep them in special prayer because of their difficult situation. They are also spending additional time in prayer for each other. They are sensing that the day of opening of North Korea is near, and they are actively getting ready for the changes the North Korean churches will face in the future.
Pray that God will open doors for the revival and expansion of the North Korean churches.
One way you can support the persecuted Christians in North Korea is participating in North Korea Freedom Week (NKFW) April 26-May 2. It is sponsored by the North Korea Freedom Coalition (NKFC), which consists of approximately 60 organizations, including Open Doors USA.
NKFW is devoted to raising awareness of the plight of North Koreans and the massive human rights and religious rights abuses by the government. Through a series of events - including rallies, lobbying lawmakers, Congressional hearings and a prayer vigil - organizers want to alert the public of North Korea's critical needs and draw attention to Kim Jong Il's criminal activities which perpetuate the problems in North Korea.
Included in the events, focused in Washington, D.C., is a Capitol Hill Rally for North Korea Freedom and Human Rights at noon on Tuesday, April 28 and lobbying of members of Congress after the rally. On Saturday, May 2, there will be a protest against China's violent treatment of North Korean refugees at the new Chinese Embassy at 2133 Wisconsin NW.
The complete schedule along with prayer requests and devotionals will soon be available on the Open Doors Website at www.OpenDoorsUSA.org. More information is also available at the North Korea Freedom Coalition Website at www.nkfreedom.org.