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
A 100-year-old church leader has long attended a local ministry’s training seminars, where he has encouraged others with his faithfulness in the face of persecution. “He has endured so much in his walk with the Lord, to the point that he was imprisoned eight times for his faith,” the native ministry leader said.
The way a businesswoman in Laos drew people to Christ was the way the salvation message often spread in the first century: redeemed merchants and traders planting gospel seeds as they went about their everyday business.
The parents of Kimsan, a 15-year-old boy in Laos, gathered up all his belongings, stuffed them into a bag and threw it at his face.
Filled with sorrow that his wife had left him, a young man in Laos was walking through Buddhist temple grounds when he felt something like a small bird hit him in the chest.
A strange strength came over him, and relatives said that later he became violent and unable to communicate coherently.
His parents and other villagers were unable to calm or communicate with him; they built a cage and locked him inside.
In a country where rice is already in short supply due to drought in some areas and flooding in others, those who follow Christ are even more threatened as officials withhold rations from those who have left the ancestral gods for Christ.
At the same time, villagers refuse to sell staple items to Christians.
Many villagers are torn between love of the Lord and need for food.
Relatives hostile to Christian faith, flooded roads that damage motorcycles, government restrictions on travel – all can instill fear in both native missionaries and new Christians in Laos.
In one of the world’s last bastions of communism, a 2016 religion law known as Decree 315 threatens to cripple efforts to spread the gospel. Gathering together, holding worship services, traveling and planting churches where none existed require prior permission.
Native missionaries are confronting a new level of fear and intimidation.