|People in North Korea bowing down and paying homage before the Grand|
Monument statues of Kim II-Sung and his son, Kim Jong-ll
Do you know much about North Korea? Most people around the world know very little about this isolated country sandwiched between China and South Korea. You may have heard that North Korea has been led by a dynasty of oppressive leaders all with the family name of Kim, that they have secretly developed nuclear weapons, or that President George W Bush included North Korea in his “axis of evil.” There is so much more to North Korea than meets the eye.
Here are some surprising facts you may not know:
1. North Korea experienced a massive revival in the first half of the 20th century, with millions of people coming to faith in Jesus Christ. So many churches sprung up throughout the land that by the early 1940s, approximately 30% of the population in the city of Pyongyang (now the capital of North Korea) were church-going Christians, earning the city the nickname, ”Jerusalem of the East”. Billy Graham’s late wife, Ruth, attended a Christian boarding school in Pyongyang as a teen in the 1920s.
In the 1950s the brutal Korean War resulted in the Korean Peninsula being divided into the Communist North and the democratic South, a division that remains to this day. Virtually all Christians in North Korea were either killed or fled south, forming the basis for the sizable percentage of South Korea’s population who are Christians today.
3. North Korea’s Communist founder, Kim II-Sung, came from a devout Christian family. His father was a Presbyterian minister. Once Kim gained power in 1948 he established a bizarre personality cult, set himself up as a god, and launched a horrific persecution against Christians, inventing new and demonic ways of torturing and killing people.
A Golden Opportunity
Christian history is littered with wonderful opportunities which were sadly squandered. In the year 1266, the great Emperor of the Mongol world empire, Kublai Khan, requested that 100 missionaries be sent to his palace in Beijing. He laid down this challenge to Marco Polo: “Send me a hundred men learned in your religion, who in the face of these sorcerers will show their mastery by making the sorcerers powerless to perform these marvels in their presence. Then I will be baptized, and all my magnates and barons will do likewise, and their subjects in turn. Then there will be more Christians here than there are in your part of the world.”
By the time the first team of missionaries arrived in China 28 years later, Kublai Khan was already dead and the Mongol people had embraced Buddhism, which remains their religion to the present time. A golden opportunity was missed.
Centuries later, in 1945 a devastated Japan lay in ruins in the aftermath of World War II. The U.S. General Douglas MacArthur stated, “Japan is in a spiritual vacuum. Send 5,000 missionaries and 10 million Bibles and Japan will be filled with Christianity.” Few Bibles or missionaries were sent, and Japan remains Buddhist to the present time. Only about 1% of Japan’s 125 million people are Christians today. Another great opportunity was lost.
|North Korean naval personnel during a massive military parade|
A Famine of God’s Word
Due largely to corruption and wicked practices, North Korea has been experiencing a food shortage for years. Hundreds of thousands of people have died of starvation, while the leaders indulge themselves in opulent palaces equipped with all the latest luxuries, including a theme park and wave pool!
In the six decades since the advent of Communist rule in North Korea, a famine of God’s Word has also been prevalent.Anyone caught reading a Bible is considered a threat to national security. They may be executed, or sent to a prison labor camp for years, which is often considered a worse fate than death.
Only heaven will reveal the multitudes of North Korean Christians who have been martyred for their faith. Their names are unkown to us now. but the Lord Jesus knows them, and He will honor them with a martyrs’ crown (Revelation 2:8-10).
EXCERPTED FROM THE OCTOBER 2014 E-BULLETIN OF ASIA HARVEST. FOR MORE INFORMATION ABOUT THE ORGANIZATION AND ITS WORK IN VULNERABLE AREAS OF ASIA, PLEASE CONTACT firstname.lastname@example.org