North Korea Arrests Australian Christian Missionary for Handing Out Gospel Tracts

Source:  The Christian Post

Date:  2014-02-19

By Stoyan Zaimov, Christian Post Reporter

The North Korean government has arrested an Australian Christian missionary for handing out Gospel tracts, with the family of the 75-year-old man fearing he could face up to 15 years in prison.

"My husband does what he believes is what God wants him to do," Karen Short said of her husband, John, who was arrested at his Pyongyang hotel on Sunday, according to Australian news site ABC.

"Without sounding strange, that's him, he's a man of faith. We're faith missionaries and he believed that we should care and not just talk but do something."

Short said that this was her husband's second trip to the Pacific country, and he knew that handing out religious material is an illegal activity there.

"Ultimately, we're in God's hands and that's how we look at it," Short added, noting that the Australian government has promised to try and help with the case.

"Our interests in North Korea are represented by the Swedish embassy and we have been in close contact with Swedish officials in Pyongyang to seek their assistance in confirming that Mr. Short is well and that we can get as much information as we can from them," Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop said.

According to the Christian website Gospel Attract, John Short was born in 1939 in Barmers, South Australia, and became a Christian at 21 years of age after joining the Adelaide YMCA. He decided to become a missionary. He especially helped Chinese refugees between 1964 and 1974, and planted churches in Hong Kong.

Short has reportedly been arrested several times in the past while visiting Chinese provinces and speaking out against Christian persecution committed there.

North Korea is also currently holding U.S. citizen and Christian missionary Kenneth Bae in prison, despite international pressure to let him go. U.S. President Barack Obama has directly called for Bae's release, noting that his family in America are concerned about his ailing health and want him to come home.

Kim Jong Un's government was harshly criticized by a recent U.N. report, which revealed some of the "unspeakable atrocities" being carried out in the Pacific nation, including "extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation."

Persecution watchdog group Open Doors has designated North Korea as the most oppressive country in the world for Christians for 12 years straight.

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