We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken… 2 Corinthians 4:8-9Today when you open your Bible for a time of prayer and study, you won’t be committing a crime. In fact, you’ll talk freely about your faith among family members, friends, and neighbors. It’s a great freedom many of us take for granted.
In some parts of the world, opening a Bible is a serious matter. In fact, it is so serious that some families hide their faith in Christ Jesus from their own children. In these instances of deep fear, even husbands and wives will not share their faith with one another. Why? Any profession of faith, however minor or innocent, is a serious crime against their government.
I was reading about one family living in a shack with a small parcel of land. On that land was a garden. At night, one of the family members would go out to the garden and dig up a package. Then after bringing the item back into the house they would slowly unwrap it. You would think it was a treasure of some type. It was. Inside was a small pocket Bible with tattered pages.
They hid the Bible outside because they never knew when government officials would search the home. If you haven’t guessed by now, this place where you dare not mutter a Christian word is North Korea. Of all the places in the world that persecute Christians, North Korea is the worst. Why is North Korea so hateful towards Christians?
It all began when one man saw himself above all others including God. In fact, he said God does not exist. About this dynasty of fear, Open Doors (a ministry for helping persecuted Christians) wrote:
North Korea is ruled by Kim Jong-un, the third generation of the Kim dynasty who has ruled North Korea with an iron grip since 1948. The two ideologies used to govern the state are Juche, which points to man’s self-sufficiency, and Kimilsungism, the god-like worship of the Kims…
Any suggestion that there could be a higher authority than the Kims is immediately crushed. North Korean citizens are constantly scrutinized by the Inminban, a neighborhood watch system in which the leader writes reports on their neighbors, trying to work out if anyone is disloyal to the ruling regime.
Christians must keep their faith completely secret; most do not even tell their own children about their faith until they are older teenagers for fear that they may let something slip. If a Christian has a Bible, or part of one, it will be carefully hidden and only read when the believer is sure they are alone.” (Source)
These persecuted believers live aglow with hope. They are the true treasure among evil men. The Apostle Paul writes:
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed — Always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body. (2 Corinthians 4:7-10)
What you will not read in this article is the unimaginable persecution the North Koreans endure on a daily basis in the internment camps. To be martyred for one’s faith in Korea is the most merciful form of brutality. To live is a life of daily torment. How is it possible for such tortured ones to continue in their faith? It is truly a marvel we in America cannot begin to fathom.
But when we do hear about these stories leaking out from North Korea and think about them, we will solemnly bow our heads before the Lord and confess our problems are little in comparison to these tortured souls living for Christ.
Thankfully, some in our local churches are doing something about it. A small group in my church meets on a regular basis to pray and plan on ways to make a difference, however small. Although we may think “one little prayer” won’t do much, the Lord doesn’t need much to work with — just a single prayer from a humble heart can move His mighty hand.
Our effort to help those in need reminds me of a story. Maybe you’ve heard it before; it’s about a starfish and a little boy. Even though I’ve used it before in another article, it’s always a delight to read again:
The story begins with a small boy walking along the seashore. From a distance, an old man and his dog were also walking and could see the young boy bending over, picking up what looked like rocks, and then tossing them into the sea. When the old man approached the boy he could see hundreds of starfish left behind from the receding morning tide. Surly, the old man thought, “They would all die in the mid-day sun.”
He said to the young boy, “Young man…why bother…there are so many and what difference could you possibly make.” The young boy paused for a moment, looked at the old man, looked at the starfish in his hand, and then gently flung the creature back into the sea. The boy brushed the sand from his hands and looked at the old man and graciously said, “Sir, I made a difference to that one!”
Original Story by: Loren Eisley
In closing, while it may seem like our prayers could never make a difference for those who feel forsaken, childlike faith is all God requires (Matthew 18:2-4). Maybe we can make a difference if only to that one unknown heart for whom we pray.