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North Korea Halts U.S. Prisoner Negotiations until Kenneth Bae stops talking about his imprisonment
(Voice of the Persecuted) For 14 consecutive years, North Korea (DPRK) has topped the World Watch List as the worst place in the world to be a Christian. Christianity is seen as an addiction, Western and something to be despised. North Korean Christians must hide their faith or risk spending years in hard labor camps and tortured under unspeakable treatment and conditions. Back on U.S. soil, Kenneth Bae, an American Christian who was imprisoned then released, continues to be threatened by the North Korean government. Kenneth Bae was the longest serving United States prisoner in North Korea.
Before his detention in North Korea, Bae was surrounded by friends, hosting meals and entertaining with hilarious tales and his renditions of Elvis tunes. He was the fun-loving uncle who showered his nieces with affection. He dropped out of college at the age of 22 to support his own young family. And after coming home late from working two jobs, he’d spend hours watching his baby son sleep. Kenneth is a man who always does the right thing, no matter the cost.
Years ago, Kenneth saw an opportunity that combined his entrepreneurial spirit with his personal convictions as a Christian. He believed in showing compassion to the North Korean people by contributing to their economy in the form of tourism. Based out of China since 2006, he started his own tour company specializing in tours to North Korea, a remote country filled with stunning vistas and a people proud of their history and tradition. His livelihood was to introduce the natural beauty of the country and its people to the outside world as a tour operator. His heart was to be a personal touch-point of compassionate humanity to the North Korean people…to reflect the light of Christ.
On one of the many tours he had led through Rason (Rajin-Sonbong), a special economic zones for foreign investors, Kenneth was arrested by North Korean authorities on Nov. 3, 2012. He was sentenced to 15 years in a hard labor camp for what the DPRK identified as “hostile acts” against the North Korean government.
As Ken was being held by one of the world’s most brutal governments, his family and friends in the U.S rallied for his release. Their voices drew the attention of media outlets who than began covering Ken’s unjust imprisonment.
Kenneth’s family and friends connected with Voice of the Persecuted asking VOP to encourage the Body of Christ to pray and intercede for Kenneth. They also asked for help in closing the petition his son, Johnathon started—doing what we could to help gain Kenneth’s freedom.
In a video interview with Bae released in July 2013, he spoke of his deteriorating health problems including diabetes, high blood pressure, fatty liver and back problems. A month later he was moved to a Hospital due to his worsening health and reports claimed he had lost more than 50lbs.
Alarmed by Kenneth’s appearance his mother, Myunghee Bae pleaded with DPRK to allow a visit with her son. Her request was granted by DPRK authorities to arrive in Oct., 2013. Prior to the trip, she discussed her concerns and asks for continued prayers. During her stay, she was allowed three visits, totaling six hours.
In January 2014, Kenneth’s mother, and sister, Terri Chung attended President Obama’s State of the Union address. Rep. Rick Larsen (D-WA) and Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY) had offered the seats to them. Terri, his mother, as well as Kenneth’s son, Jonathan Bae met with public figures in New York and Washington DC, uniting with the goal of seeing Kenneth released from detention in North Korea.
Terri, Myunghee, and Jonathan also met with Secretary of State John Kerry. Below is a statement from his sister:
“We were honored to have the opportunity to meet with Secretary Kerry. Secretary Kerry was warm and sympathetic, and I want to thank him for affirming the commitment of the US State Department to securing Kenneth’s release. We are grateful for his support, and we appreciate the ongoing efforts of many at the State Department who have been working behind the scenes for the past 15 months to bring Kenneth home.
The past week our family has received overwhelming support from people across the country. It is clear that many Americans are invested in this cause to see this fellow American come home to his family. I see the heart, soul and hard work of so many people. We will never be able to thank you enough for your kindness.
I also hope and pray that the attention and care that people are showing does not end with the publicity of today. The fact is, my brother remains in detention in DPRK (North Korea) after 15 months, the longest detention of any American in recent times. We will not rest until Kenneth is home in the United States. We continue to implore our government to do everything possible to secure Kenneth’s freedom.”
Kenneth Bae was sent back to the labor camp in January 2014. You can view his family’s emotional plea in this video interview on CNN.
Kenneth Bae spoke out about the harsh conditions at the labor camp where he is being held in North Korea. He told a Swedish diplomat that he was in great pain and longed to be back with his family. In March 2014, Bae was re-admitted to a hospital in Pyongyang but was again sent back to the labor camp. His sister, Terri feared for her brother’s serious health conditions afraid he may not survive in the labor camp. See our Sept. 2014 report.
In the early part of November 2014, his family shared the update we all had been waiting for. The U.S. State Department informed them that he had left North Korean airspace and was on a plane bound for the United States. He had been released!
They thanked the United States government, the DPRK government for allowing him to come home, and the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang for their tireless efforts in advocating for Ken. They also expressed their gratitude for everyone across the world who continued to advocate and pray for Kenneth.
We at Voice of the Persecuted still rejoice with great thanks to our almighty God for our brother’s freedom. When in the flesh it appears there is no hope, we can always trust our God to do the impossible! Never giving up, constant in prayer and trusting He would do a great thing in this most turbulent storm, in His time. VOP believes Ken’s release was an answer to our many prayers, a miracle to bring glory to our heavenly Father.
Since his return, Bae had been quiet as he recovered and healed from the physical and emotional abuse he received in North Korea. But he’s finally sharing the full story surrounding his arrest and imprisonment in his book, Not Forgotten.
Not Forgotten is a modern story of intrigue, suspense, and heart. Driven by his passion to help the people of North Korea, Bae moved to China to lead guided tours into the secretive nation. Six years later, after eighteen successful excursions in and out of the country, Ken was suddenly stopped at the border: he inadvertently brought his hard drive, that revealed the true nature of his visits. He was arrested, brought to Pyongyang for further questioning, and sentenced to fifteen years of hard labor. His crime? Attempting to overthrow the North Korean government. He wondered if he would ever see his family again.
From the first harrowing moments of his ordeal to his release—and even today—Ken never wavers in his love for the North Korean people, even his captors. Not Forgotten is both a compelling narrative of one man’s dedication to serving the less fortunate and a modern testament of a missionary forced to rely solely on God who sent him into dangerous territory. Ken’s book gives a rare, firsthand account of life inside the most shrouded country on the planet, meeting its people, experiencing their daily lives, taking in the landscape, and encountering the tyranny of a totalitarian regime. With its combined spiritual and secular appeal, this never-before-told story is sure to captivate and inspire readers of all ages. Get your copy of Ken’s book HERE
Since the release of Not Forgotten, Bae has shared his experiences during multiple public appearances and given interviews to promote the book. Bae was recently interviewed by a defector-run group in South Korea that broadcasts into the North. For translated version of Bae’s interview with Unification Media Group, use this ip address http://bit.ly/28Iu8fy
But North Korea is threatening Kenneth to keep silent about his imprisonment in the country.
On Monday, they warned they will not negotiate with the U.S. over two American citizens it is holding until former detainee Kenneth Bae stops publicly talking about his time in prison.
21-year-old student of the University of Virginia, Otto Warmbier was sentenced in March to 15 years’ hard labor for trying to steal a propaganda banner bearing the name of former leader Kim Jong Il. In April, a North Korean court convicted Korean-American missionary Kim Dong Chul of crimes against the state and sentenced him to 10 years’ hard labor.
Quoting the state KCNA news agency of North Korea,
“As long as Kenneth Bae continues his babbling, we will not proceed with any compromise or negotiations with the United States on the subject of American criminals, and there will certainly not be any such thing as humanitarian action,”
“If Bae continues, U.S. criminals held in our country will be in the pitiful state of never being able to set foot in their homeland once again.
Please keep Kenneth Bae and those persecuted by the North Korean government. Pray the hearts of authorities be soften and oppression no longer exist in the nation.
Together with your generous help, we can reach the goal to alleviate horrific suffering. In darkness and desperation, let us serve in love, with open arms and giving hands to provide light and hope.
HELP SAVE THE PERSECUTED
Every day, we thank God for working through you to care for His children and to further His Kingdom! As you greatly bless others, may God continue to bless you. Thank you so much for your support. We couldn’t do it without you! Donations always desperately needed.
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Kenneth Bae’s Statement of Thanks
American Kenneth Bae speaks to the media at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state after being released from detainment in North Korea Saturday.
Come Let Us Reason Together, Let Us Be One Voice
Is Unity in the Bible? Did God speak of unity to His prophets? Yes, yes He did. David said this of unity in Psalm 133: Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! There are many mentions of unity in the Bible.
- 1 Corinthians 12:12 For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ.
- Romans 15:5-7 May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.
- Amos 3:3 “Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?”
- Galatians 3:28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus
- Acts 20:28 Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.
- John 17:11-23 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves. I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one.
In Genesis we find the very first mention of unity where God was teaching Adam and Eve about surviving and uniting as one in the flesh. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:24)
They were taught to cling to one another as one, not only in themselves but in their belief and faith in God. Unfortunately satan drove a wedge between them and God. He’s been whispering the very same thing in all of mankind’s ears ever since.
The Gospels teach us of unity also. Christ’s words the night before he was crucified tells us all to unite as one with each other even as He and God are one. So we must obey and rebuke as Jesus did when He told satan “Away from me, Satan! For it is written: ‘Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only.”
We can not serve God unless we remember those persecuted. Those who have faced the ultimate choice of “Whom shall you worship?” Who shall I send? As Isaiah, Joshua and the other prophets decided, we must also decide. As Christ told us to take up our cross and follow Him. Are you willing to do this as many of our brothers and sisters are?
What is my point? There are many in prison facing death daily for their faith in Christ. There are many facing prison for their faith in Christ. Like Pastor Saeed Abidini, Kenneth Bae, Asia Bibi, Miriam Ibrahim, Iranian Pastor Matthias Haghnejad and layman Silas Rabbani and many, many others. Yet, too often we forget to remember these dear brothers and sisters in our prayers.
If they were members of my own family, I would give thanks every day for the mention of their names before the throne of God. Prayers are what sustains these dear family members, brothers and sisters in Christ. Our prayers before the throne of God are what strengthens and supports them. Not only is their faith, pain and endurance, including that of their families been an inspiration to so many, but it blesses and teaches us above all things to unite as one in the Glory of Christ giving praise and Glory to God as one in Christ Jesus.
We’d like to thank everyone who is sharing their testimony about what Pastor Saeed has taught them and how they have been blessed by this dear brother and his family. Pastor Saeed’s family is very grateful for every prayer or mention of their suffering, as are we. Let’s unite in the many prayer vigils that are upcoming for Pastor Saeed, his family and the persecuted Church, worldwide.
Click here to find a prayer vigil near you.
Remember to share your testimonies of how this family has inspired you in faith, prayer and unity. Tell them how you are blessed for answering the call “Whom shall I send.”
Let us answer in one voice “SEND US, WE WILL GO.” May God richly bless you for your prayers and support for Pastor Saeed and the persecuted Church.
My Prayer for the call to prayer:
Father, we humble ourselves before you at the feet of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Father we know the price that was paid for us, we know the sacrifice given to us. We have chosen as one to pick up our cross and follow Christ. We have chosen to unite as one in body, one voice to give you glory, praise and honor. Father we know the price we pay for following your will. We ask that you give comfort, strength, courage and protection to Pastor Saeed Abidini and others imprisoned or facing death. We ask that you touch their families and send caring hands and love to surround them and encourage them. We ask that you surround Pastor Saeed with your light of protection and love. We ask that through him you lead others to you. Use us Father to be a light to the world, to show the love of Christ, and the Gospel to the lost, so that they too may live. Help us to love and comfort those lost and seeking refuge from the storm. Help us to lean on your understanding. Father we give all Glory to you and we thank you for everything you have given us. Help us Father, to understand, and to show love to the world. Help us Father to remember that we are one in you though there are many of us and we are scattered throughout the world we are one. We ask that you give knowledge, wisdom and guidance to our leaders, religious and political leaders alike. Guide them Father, into your will. Help us to remember as Jesus said “Not my will but yours.” Give us all courage, and fill our hearts with the love of Christ and the truth of the Holy Spirit. Help us to remember that you are ever present in every land and every life. Help us to know that our Faith and hope rest in your hands. Strengthen Pastor Saeed and the others persecuted. May we rest in the knowledge that you are on the throne, and our reward is with you. Thank you Father, In Jesus name we pray.
Kenneth Bae’s sister talks to CNN after exclusive interview with Kenneth in North Korea
Terry Chung’s interview with CNN here
His family is asking for our help.
Please help us to make our voices heard loud and clear to the state department via the signing of Kenneth’s petition. “We The People…” Can make this happen. But, we NEED to sign and share Kenneth’s petition with everyone we know.
Please help us today.
Sign the petition here
When one man is persecuted for his faith, we’re all persecuted
By Eduardo Verastegui —At this very moment in Iran, an America pastor named Saeed Abedini sits in a prison cell: his crime: refusing to be quiet about his faith in Jesus Christ. Across the globe in North Korea, another America named Kenneth Bae also a devout Christian languishes in a North Korean prison camp: his crime: also refusing to be quiet about his Christian faith.
In the Ukraine, government officials have warned leaders of the Ukranian Greek Catholic church that unless they stop praying in the streets with anti-government protesters, the Church may lose its status as a legitimate religious entity.
What does this have to do with me, an actor enjoying the good life in Hollywood, California, you might be asking yourself? Well, as it turns out, plenty.
First, I too am a Christian, not a very good one perhaps having made plenty of mistakes in my life, but a Christian nonetheless and when a fellow Christian is suffering anywhere in the world because of his beliefs, I too am suffering.
Continue reading why Eduardo Verastegui feels compelled to speak up for persecuted Christians HERE
Let Us Not Forget Our Brother’s Pastor Saeed Abedini & Kenneth Bae
We’ve been reviewing commentaries about the recent Prayer Breakfast attended by the President. While we remain extremely grateful that President Obama acknowledged our brother’s, Pastor Saeed Abedini and Kenneth Bae, we wonder what current action the administration is taking to procure their release.
Pastor Saeed’s wife, and Kenneth Bae’s family were jubilant about the acknowledgement from the president and rightly so, but we remain cautiously optimistic. We believe God is working through both men to bring light into the darkness they are currently in. And pray for their families who are and have been inspirations to many Christians and non-believers alike. There also is evidence that Pastor Saeed has brought the Gospel to new believers in prison, when they may have never had an opportunity to hear the Word. God has a plan and is in control in the lives of these faithful men and their families.
Many were disheartened when President Obama didn’t officially mention Saeed or Kenneth in the last State of the Union Address. Reps. Rick Larsen (D-Wash.) and Charles Rangel (D-N.Y.) had invited Bae’s mother, Myunghee Bae, and sister, Terri Chung, to hear the president speak in the House chamber, so they both were present. Secretary of State John F. Kerry even met with Bae’s family ahead of the speech.
Thousands were extremely disappointed that Pastor Saeed’s release wasn’t made as a pre-condition to the recent nuclear talks with the government of Iran. At Davos, politicians started the talks with handshakes and smiles, followed by deals with the Islamic nation. But Pastor Saeed sat in a dark prison, suffering with internal injuries caused by beatings for nothing more than his faith in Jesus Christ. Pressuring him to deny his Christian faith, the Iranian authorities have caused him to endure much physical and psychological torture. A prison doctor now says he will need to undergo surgery for the internal bleeding he has been suffering for the past year. The Islamic regime has used Saeed as a pawn to further oppress Christian converts and the people of Iran. These two Americans have been denied their human/religious rights. And we will never accept the despicable treatment inflicted on our fellow Americans and family members in Christ.
In an interview with Steve Malzberg, former Ambassador John Bolton made some interesting statements regarding the president’s comments at the Prayer Breakfast. Bolton said he believes President Barack Obama’s mention of American Pastor Saeed Abedini — serving eight years in prison in Iran on charges related to his Christian beliefs — at the prayer breakfast may have been made to placate his family.
“He’s probably trying … to get them off his back and to get the American public off his back for not raising the issue enough. I don’t think it’s going to succeed,” he said.
“It wasn’t an official statement; it was just in the prayer breakfast because he hopes that with a bunch of religious fanatics in Tehran he can kind of pass it off as his obligatory religious gesture in this country.
“I mean really, it is a demonstration that the president is determined to have a deal with Iran on the nuclear program almost no matter what the cost.”
From the beginning of Saeed’s wrongful detention, many have pleaded for the president to speak out on the behalf of the imprisoned American pastor in Iran. He has remained virtually silent. Voice of the Persecuted joined thousands worldwide in holding a Protest/Prayer Vigil for Pastor Saeed on September 26, 2013— the one year anniversary of his imprisonment. The next day, it was reported that a senior Obama Administration official confirmed that President Obama had called for the release of American Pastor Saeed Abedini in a phone conversation with the new Iranian President Rouhani.
It was stated that President Obama raised Pastor Saeed’s case along with two other Americans directly with the Iranian President. According to the report, President Obama raised concerns about the imprisonment of Saeed and expressed our country’s interest in seeing the American pastor returned to his family.
While Secretary of State Kerry had already called on Iran to release Pastor Saeed, the call with Rouhani was the first time that Obama had himself spoken out about the wrongfully imprisoned U.S. citizen. Between that call and the mention at the prayer breakfast, he has been silent.
As Bolton claimed, were his statements only an appeasement? Does this administration believe Saeed’s supporters will stop pressuring our government leaders to do more for his release? If so, they’ve underestimated the unity and love we have for one another. When one suffers, we all suffer and his wrongful imprisonment by the nation of Iran is completely unacceptable. And our stance on North Korea’s detainment of our brother, Kenneth Bae is the same. Both men must be released.
As Christians, we are banding together in prayer and support for these brothers and their families. We want to remain positive and encouraging, wrapping them in love and the power that comes with a blanket of prayer and the Name of Jesus.
We encourage everyone to not give up or get lax. We must step up the efforts and keep the emails, letters and petitions going to the President and our elected officials. Let him, our government and the world know that we as Christians and Americans, will not forget while one of us is left behind. Be their VOICE, too many are still unaware. Encourage others to join in the campaign to save their lives. Keep the fires going and keep the light shining, so all may find their way. And most importantly PRAY!
HOW TO GET INVOLVED! Note: CAMPAIGN HAS ENDED
(Links have been removed, campaigns have ended)
Share this mission, every VOICE counts!
Sign the petition to help free Saeed
We encourage you to write a personal letter of encouragement to Pastor Saeed. You can personalize a card or letter by sending a family photo. Younger children may participate by sending a drawing, also encouraging him in this time of trial. Learn how HERE
Sign the petition to bring Kenneth back home.
A letter-writing campaign for Kenneth was launched by the two American journalists, Laura Ling and Euna Lee, previously imprisoned in North Korea, because letters were what sustained them during their detainment.
Please send words of hope, strength, and news. Learn how HERE