Local Missionaries in North Korea
Local Missionaries in North Korea
Slightly larger than the state of Virginia, North Korea borders China and South Korea between the Korea Bay and Sea of Japan.
Since the mid-1990s, the citizens of this totalitarian state have faced chronic food shortages with severe famine and starvation through the mid-2000s. Though technically a centrally planned economy where the state is supposed to provide everything for its people, North Korea’s economy barely functions. In 2002, the government began allowing semi-private markets to sell a wider range of goods, giving way to a private economy that has sprung up out of necessity.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital city, was called the “Jerusalem of Asia.” Christians worshipped in around 3,000 churches throughout the country at that time. But everything changed under the subsequent Japanese rule and following dictatorships of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il, and Kim Jong-un. Today, there is no visible presence of Christians, though the Body of Christ is secretly growing; some estimate there are hundreds of thousands of believers in the country.
North Korea is considered by many to be the world’s worst persecutor of Christians. If North Korean believers are discovered, they are sent to one of the country’s notorious labor camps, tortured, or sometimes killed. Tens of thousands of Christians are currently held in these camps.
Christian Aid Mission assists an indigenous ministry that is planting churches among trafficked North Korean women near the Chinese border. Hoping to find work to send money back to their hungry children, hundreds of thousands of North Korean women have entered China throughout the years—only to be met by traffickers who sell them to poor or disabled Chinese men. Some stay, losing all hope to ever see their families again. Some are arrested and sent back to North Korea where they’re put in a labor camp.
The ministry discovered a group of 91 North Korean trafficked women near the border in 2015 during a Christmas outreach where they delivered hot noodle soup to more than 2,000 North Korean workers and clothing to 580 orphans and elderly people in nursing homes. They planted a church among them and began to disciple them. They have since planted several additional churches among North Korean refugees. The ministry requests assistance to provide them with food, clothing, and other compassionate aid, as well as Bibles.
Sources: Joshua Project, CIA World Factbook, Providence Magazine: Jesus in the Land of Kim Jong-un: https://providencemag.com/2016/06/jesus-land-kim-jong-un/
How to Pray for
- Pray that the Kingdom of God would grow in North Korea, despite the regime’s tyrannical rule.
- Pray for divine peace and provision for God’s people who are enduring misery and hardship in labor camps because of their faith in Christ.
- Pray for courage for the country’s believers, that they would have strength to follow Christ no matter the cost.
- Pray for wisdom and provision for indigenous ministries sharing the gospel with North Korean refugees. Pray that many would embrace the gospel of Christ.
- Pray for freedom and relief to come to the oppressed and suffering citizens of North Korea.
More stories from North Korea
Languishing in prison after being arrested for his faith, a native Christian worker in Laos feared he would die of starvation. “Samyoung* said everyone in the prison relieved themselves on the floor, and he saw people die of starvation,” a native ministry leader said. “If no family member came to retrieve the body, they were wrapped in plastic and just thrown away. It was a terrifying experience, but he kept praying and thinking about the ministry’s radio messages of encouragement.”
Within four days of local missionaries broadcasting the gospel on Facebook live, between 4,000 and 5,000 people responded to the messages. One listener who was equipped to plant three house churches met with local missionaries for spiritual support and supplies, including Bibles, hymnbooks and radios for listening to the ministry’s gospel broadcasts.
The headman of a village in Laos summoned a local missionary to his office. “I heard that you are speaking to people in the village, and you are talking about Jesus, and now people told me that some of them are interested,” the headman told him. The local missionary, pastor of a house church, showed the headman a government booklet stating that Christianity was one of the officially accepted faiths in the country.
When two or three families put their faith in Christ, initially they worship at a local missionary’s church in a nearby village until some can be trained to lead church services at a home in their own community. This can lead to persecution by relatives, neighbors and officials in their own villages, but Christians have refused to renounce their faith.
With about 1,700 people getting baptized and 16 house churches forming over the course of six months, follow-up teaching was crucial. Native missionaries gave trainings to encourage new Christians in their faith and deepen their understanding of basic principles and practices.