(Voice of the Persecuted) You are invited to join us on Thursday December 16, 2021 in a prayer conference call for the persecuted church hosted by Persecution Watch.
NORTH KOREA: Population: 25.7 million, Christians: about 300,000
Number 1 on the World Watch List of the top 50 countries where its most difficult to follow Jesus.
Due to the Communist government’s secretive nature, little is known about the current status of Christians inside North Korea. Pyongyang, the capital, was known as the “Jerusalem of the East” in the early 1900s because of its 2,000-plus churches. The Communist government depends on Juche (the North Korean religion that requires worship and subservience to the Kim family) to maintain stability, and Christianity is considered subversive. Anyone discovered to be a Christian (or, in many cases, discovered to have had contact with Christian ideas) is considered an enemy of the state. The gospel is still proclaimed in North Korea through various creative means, including shortwave radio and bold evangelists who risk their lives smuggling materials into the country.
In November, Christians working in the region described how North Korea has set up “quarantine camps” for Covid-19 patients, where they are deprived of food and medicine, causing many to die of starvation. North Korea is routinely ranked as one of the most dangerous places in the world to be a Christian. Believers have been executed simply for owning a Bible. Tens of thousands of Christians – sometimes entire families – have been incarcerated in labor camps where they are abused, tortured and worked to death.
North Korea tells hungry citizens to ‘tighten belts’ until 2025.
North Korea is telling citizens to tighten their belts through at least 2025, the year they will reopen the border with China which they closed last year to ward off the coronavirus, causing severe food shortages, sources in the country told RFA.
After the government informed citizens to expect more years of hardship, people complained that they might not be able to last through the coming winter–much less hold out through the middle of the decade. “Two weeks ago, they told the neighborhood watch unit meeting that our food emergency would continue until 2025. Authorities emphasized that the possibility of reopening customs between North Korea and China before 2025 was very slim,” a resident of the northwestern border city of Sinuiju, across from China’s Dandong, told RFA’s Korean Service Oct. 21.
Chronically short of food, the country of 25 million has seen starvation deaths in the wake of the closure of the Sino-Korean border and suspension of trade with China in January 2020 to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The move devastated the North Korean economy, causing food prices to skyrocket without imports from China covering the gap between domestic food production and demand. The UN World Food Program estimates that about 40% of North Korea’s population is undernourished. Some of the residents are saying that the situation right now is so serious they don’t know if they can even survive the coming winter. They say that telling us to endure hardship until 2025 is the same as telling us to starve to death,” said the source.
Christians are sent to concentration camps, where they are starved, overworked, and tortured. North Koreans have a saying: Whenever two or three people are gathered together, one of them is a spy. This is true even in family settings, as children are taught to spy on their parents from a young age. Therefore, North Korean Christians must be extremely careful in what they say, what they do and how they pray; all must be done in secret. When a Christian is discovered, the government punishes the entire family. Despite the threat of persecution and heavy social pressure, Christians in North Korea hold firmly to their faith. For example, one North Korean defector told VOM that her mother continued to shelter orphans even after they stole from her. Christian and secular analysts estimate that about 30,000 Christians are suffering in prison and labor camps.
It is very dangerous to own a Bible – even owning a few pages can result in being sent to a concentration camp. Memorizing scripture is the safest way to keep God’s word.
One man who was arrested after converting to Christianity was forced into a metal cage measuring 3ft high by 4ft wide. He told Korea Future Initiative researchers: “There were steel bars on all four-sides that were heated with electricity. “Usually, prisoners lasted only three or four hours in the cage, but I sat there for 12 hours and prayed.” I kept praying to God to save me.”
Women suffered terrible treatment including sexual violence and forced abortions at a camp in North Hamgyong province. One witness described how pregnant women were forced into induced labor before their babies were taken away and smothered by guards using sheets of plastic and cloth sacks
The report said methods of torture included strangulation, sleep deprivation, the use of stress positions and pouring water laced with pepper down prisoner’s nostrils. Others were killed for trying to smuggle pages torn from bibles into North Korea from China.
- Pray that the Lord will reach Kim Jong-un and other top leaders with the power of the gospel.
- Pray for perseverance and courage for the Christians suffering in the brutal labor camps.
- Pray for protection of the very small house churches from the enemies of God.
- Pray for the millions of North Koreans who have not heard the Good News due to relentless Christian persecution and oppression that the Lord will bring His light into the darkness.
- Pray that the border to China will reopen to allow Open Doors/VOM to bring in food and spiritual support. (Over 20% of the population is malnourished)
- Pray for the believers that the Lord give them strength, courage and safe methods of communication that are not detectable by the police and informers.
- Pray to the Lord that He will take the heart of stone out of the prison guards and give them a heart of compassion for prisoners.
- Pray that the Lord will make his presence felt to all His believers in the prison system and gives them supernatural strength to recall scriptures and hymns that strengthen them and to be a light to the lost.
- Pray for the Lord to open the flood gates of heaven and feed the people who are subject to hunger and starvation
- His believers the ability to love their enemies and to forgive them.
- Pray to the Lord that Christians will experience God’s comfort and show them that they are being prayed for.
- Pray that the Lord will supernaturally bring His church above ground – church buildings – protected by the authorities, adding to the number of believers daily……for our God does what is impossible for men, think big and bold.
Again, we want to lift up persecuted witnesses to the Lord:
- Leah Sharibu, prisoner of Boko Haram since 2018. Pray for her release.
- Alice Loksha Ngaddah, kidnapped February 2019. She is a mother of two, working as a nurse for UNICEF. Pray for her release.
- Pray for Pastor Wang Yi to be released from prison.
- Pray for Anita, a Christian convert facing a long prison term who escaped from Iran and praying to go to a country where she can express her faith openly.
- For the release of Pastor Youcef Nadarkhani from Iran, and his family as their Persecution continues. Pastor Nadarkhani is serving the second year of his six-year sentence.
Andy, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Moderator
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What is Persecution Watch?
Persecution Watch is a U.S. national prayer conference call ministry that prays specifically for the global Persecuted Church. For over a decade, Blaine Scogin led this national network of believers who faithfully pray for the persecuted and the global harvest for the Kingdom of God. The group meets via a free call-in service every Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday night at 9pm Eastern time in the United States (please check your time zone). Blaine also served as Prayer Director for Voice of the Persecuted, and the missions became one. Brother Blaine passed into glory on December 26, 2019. It was truly a blessing for all of us to serve alongside this dear man of God and he will be greatly missed. The prayer mission of Persecution Watch remains an important part of our mission. Voice of the Persecuted is committed to continue the prayer conference call for the persecuted along with the dedicated Persecution Watch prayer warrior team.
Prior to the passing of Brother Blaine, he confirmed the passing of the torch as prayer conference call leader to Nadia Dybvik. Nadia has a burdened heart for the persecuted and is a prayer warrior standing in the gap for them. She joined the Persecution Watch prayer team in 2013 and has been part of the core ever since. Before becoming the prayer call leader, she served in the role of prayer moderator since 2015. Blaine chose Nadia for her faithfulness to pray for the persecuted and her strong commitment to the Persecution Watch mission. We are blessed not only with her gift of prayer, but her genuine love for every brother and sister in Christ that comes on the call to pray. May the Lord continue to bless Nadia and the prayer team in the mission and their personal lives.
“Pray for us” is the number one request that we hear from the persecuted. As the members of the first century Church were moved by the Holy Spirit to pray, we too must continue to serve those suffering persecution by lifting them up to the Lord through prayer.
On occasion, persecuted brothers and sisters have been invited on the conference call to share the trials they are facing. The team serves to encourage them by washing their feet in Spirit led prayer. Time is often reserved for those on the call to ask questions. We believe this helps to gain a better understanding of the situation that persecuted Christians endure in their specific nations. Q&A also helps us to focus our prayers based on their current needs.
Persecution Watch also hosts callers who want to pray united from other nations. If your heart is perplexed by the sufferings of our persecuted brothers and sisters, you no longer need to pray alone.
We welcome all who desire to pray for the persecuted church and consider it a joy to pray together with you. If you are new to the call and cannot find your voice, listen in and pray silently or on mute. We are grateful and thank the Lord for bringing us all together to pray in agreement for our persecuted family in Christ. We can all be prayer warriors on this call!
God bless and protect you in your faithfulness to serve.
Lois Kanalos, Founder, Voice of the Persecuted, Nadia Dybvik, Persecution Watch Prayer Call Leader and the Persecution Watch Prayer Team
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Note to Voice of the Persecuted (VOP) readers: The Persecution Watch prayer team is also the prayer team of Voice of the Persecuted. SIGN UP today.