'Fighting for their survival'
Open Doors asks people to remember the plight of persecuted Christians in North Korea ahead of the Winter Olympics
With the start of the Winter Olympics the world’s attention is focused on Korea. The joint Korean women’s ice hockey team and the pro-unification flag show that North Korea is attempting to present a more friendly face to the world.
But Open Doors, an international ministry serving persecuted Christians and churches worldwide, is asking people not to forget the thousands of Christians persecuted under the brutal Kim regime.
Every year Open Doors produces its World Watch List, an independently audited ranking of the 50 countries where Christians face the most extreme persecution. Every year North Korea remains the most dangerous place in the world to be a Christian.
'As many nations come together to take part in the Winter Olympics, let us not forget that every day over 300,000 Christians are denied the right to take part in the religious observance of their choice,' said Dr Matthew Rees, Advocacy Policy Officer at Open Doors.
'They are a beleaguered community who are fighting for their very survival.'
Every aspect of life in North Korea is controlled by the state, the charity explains. The belief that God is a higher authority than the nation’s leader, Kim Jong-un, is seen as a threat that must be crushed. Tens of thousands of Christians are incarcerated in horrific labour camps, and thousands more keep their faith in Christ a complete secret.
'They ignore all freedoms,' said Timothy, a North Korean refugee.
'The human rights level is zero per cent. Religions are not allowed. The leader of North Korea has to be worshipped as god, and this will not change unless the regime collapses.'
Incredibly, despite this tremendous persecution, the church in North Korea is growing – Open Doors estimates that there are 300,000 courageous Christians in North Korea, who are in desperate need of encouragement.
As a way to support North Korean believers and to understand their hardship, pain and courage, Open Doors is asking people to Live like a North Korean with their Lent resource of the same name.
Many secret believers in North Korea are strengthened by the knowledge that Christians around the world are standing with them. One North Korean secret believer said, 'We don’t know your names or your faces. Still you support us. Thanks to you we are holding on.'
Daily Bible readings, prayers and actions help you to experience a little of what North Korean Christians endure every day. You might end up buying your Bible or surviving a day without electricity. These actions 'cannot replicate the reality of our dear brothers and sisters', says Open Doors, but with prayerful reflection 'they can provide a window into the world of a North Korean Christian.'
Live like a North Korean is a free resource available to order from the Open Doors website.