Remember the persecuted church
Recently, I was given a copy of the book “Back to the Jerusalem of the East: The Underground Church of North Korea” by Martin and Bach. The book was very informative, covering the history of Christianity in North Korea, as well as what is presently happening to Christians and also a vision for the future.
At one time, Korea was called “the Jerusalem of the East,” with Pyongyang in the northern part of the country a center for Christian missionaries, schools and hospitals. Ruth Bell, who later married Billy Graham, was sent to school in Pyongyang while her parents served in China as missionaries. Pyongyang is now the military headquarters for the communist government.
Kim Jong-Un, the new young leader of North Korea, has ancestral ties to Christianity. His grandparents lived near Pyongyang, and his grandfather went to missionary school and was an elder in a Presbyterian church.
At present, people are severely persecuted for refusing to worship Kim Jong-Un. It is estimated that there are 400,000 people who still follow Christ, but who do so at the risk of imprisonment, torture and death—not only of themselves, but also of their children and grandchildren.
Just after I finished reading the book, a letter from a Chinese Christian came in the email. Here is the letter, with some editing: “I do not know who you are, but I thank you so much for providing a Bible for me. I do not know how you know we still need Bibles in China. I believe God must speak to you through the Holy Spirit. …”
“… I became a Christian eight years ago when I was in my last year in middle school. A classmate who was a Christian shared the Gospel with me, and I went with him to the house church and three months later, I understood salvation and was baptized and became a Christian. … I always wanted to have my own Bible, but there is no place I can buy, so I am waiting and waiting that my pastor will think it should be my turn to have a Bible and I waited for eight years.”
“Five months ago, my pastor gave me a small package packed with newspaper after the Sunday service. He said, ‘This is a gift from God,’ so I asked him what it was, and he said, ‘I know you have been waiting for so long to have this. Thank you for your patience. Today this book is yours.’ When the pastor said ‘this book’ I knew it must be a Bible. Tears came out from my eyes. I gripped my pastor’s hand and asked him to pray for me. I asked for wisdom to understand the Bible when I read it. Today, after five months, I have already read the whole Bible two times. Not that I understand it all, but I just love to read the Bible. …”
“Anyway, thank you for your understanding that we cannot buy a Bible in China. Your gift is the best gift I have even received in my life. Thank you so much.”
Both the book about North Korea and this letter have profoundly changed the way I pray for fellow believers worldwide who are not able to worship God openly or freely as we are able to do in America. May we never forget them. And, may we join with them in giving 100 percent of ourselves in loving and following Christ, no matter what the cost.
“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. If you belonged to the world, it would love you as its own. As it is, you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world. That is why the world hates you. ... They will treat you this way because of my name, for they do not know the One who sent me.” John 15:18-19, 21 NIV
Judy Lowery lives in Springville. The Good News column appears regularly in the Porterville Recorder. You can read more at Judy’s blog, goodnewswithjudy.blogspot.com.