Date: June 12, 2012
(Photo courtesy Open Doors)
North Korea (ODM/MNN) ― For the past decade, North Korea has been the world's most hostile country in which to live and practice the Christian faith.
Open Doors USA notes that nearly a quarter of the Christians in the country are believed to be serving out sentences in labor camps. By the end of his life, Kim Il-Sung saw himself as a deity, setting into motion a cult following under his sons. Those who did not participate were killed or sent for re-education in the labor camps.
Meanwhile, poverty is the reality the rest of the country bears. Roughly ten million inhabitants are malnourished, with thousands eating only grass and bark.
According to Open Doors, half the population lives in the north, close to China, where family-based networks of house churches exist in significant numbers. Last year, Open Doors distributed over 45,000 pieces of Christian materials in North Korea and secretly trained approximately 5,000 North Korean believers.
In addition, around 1,000 refugees and their families received help through Open Doors' safe houses across the border in China. Many North Koreans caught crossing the borders into China are returned, likely to face death sentences or worse--the punishment of family members down to the third generation.
That's where safe houses come into play. Open Doors can now provide over 1,500 North Korean refugees safe haven. Those who successfully cross can find safety, medical attention, food, and most importantly: spiritual nourishment.
What's more, Open Doors says that because not everyone escaping from North Korea is a Christian, their ministry partners can share the Gospel with hundreds of people.
As more people began fleeing North Korea, the need for more safe houses became clear. Open Doors asked for help raising $66,000 for new safe houses to meet the growing demand. The good news is that they not only met that goal, but exceeded it.
This additional amount allows Open Doors to move quickly, providing Bibles, training, advocacy, and other support where Christians need it most.