North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has reportedly ordered the execution of 33 Christians who have ties with a South Korean Baptist missionary funding the growth of underground churches in North Korea.
Several media sources have said the Christians are charged with attempting to overthrow the North Korean regime by establishing these underground churches.
The North Korean government is particularly hostile toward Christians because, as author of Escaping North Korea Mike Kim says, the regime sees organized religion as a threat to its power. “If organized groups are successful in toppling the government, the ruling elite knows they will be prosecuted in international courts for crimes against humanity,” Kim writes.
And Kim Jung Un isn’t afraid to purge the country of anyone whom he views as a threat, as he recently executed his uncle, Jang Song Thaek.
Without a doubt, the Christians in this country are targets with bullseyes painted on their backs, and living under this regime means intense persecution, as the announced execution of these 33 believers illustrates.
As Christians who live in the U.S. with relatively no persecution, we should be burdened to pray daily for the believers in North Korea who are forced to hide and worship in secret.
The Apostle Paul admonished the church in Colosse to continue in prayer, petitioning God for an open door to spread the Gospel. “Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving; Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds.” In jail, Paul expressed the need for Christians to share Christ’s Gospel, the one that put him in jail. His example displays a spirit that doesn’t give up, an enduring passion to reach others for Jesus Christ.
Though we often forget, Christians around the world are risking everything for the glorious cause of Christ, and they wouldn’t trade anything for His message.
And what can we do? We can remember the people of North Korea through prayer. As students, we set aside 15 minutes in the residence halls every night for prayer, and at least once a week, prayer meeting could be dedicated to interceding for North Korea and oppressed countries like this one.
Let Colossians 4:2-3 be our prayer for the people living under the oppressive regime in North Korea. Let us pray that a door for the Gospel would swing open wide and that God would bring North Koreans to Himself.
Pray for safety for the Christians serving faithfully in underground churches, and pray for the Christians who have been discovered by the government.
The Enemy is at work in North Korea, but God’s redemptive power will ultimately prevail. Let us join in God’s mission for North Korea by bowing our heads and hearts in prayer for people under the rule of a government that hates religion, particularly Christianity.