The North Korean Church consists of between 200,000 and 400,000 members. Fiercely persecuted, all of them hide their beliefs from the authorities. The church is truly an underground church, divided into thousands of small networks and cell groups. Most Christians hardly know other Christians outside their families. In case of an arrest, not many other Christians are in danger. The most visible proof of their faith is the possession of a Bible, which is illegal and punishable by death. Probably nowhere else in the world are so many copies of God’s Word literally hidden underground.
But the church is definitely growing. Many Christians keep their faith secret and are surviving. Open Doors is able to support almost 60,000 Christians with Bibles, books, training, food, clothes and medicines. Yet it is the individual tragedies that make it difficult to see with spiritual eyes that Jesus Christ is supreme even in North Korea.
For example, a middle aged man was arrested after the police found a Bible in his home. He is being terribly beaten in prison, as we learn from released prisoners who witnessed it. “His face is deformed. He told us he is certain he will die.”
How can Christ be supreme if one of his disciples is tortured so severely? I’ve known this man for a long time,” says a Christian friend of the prisoner. “When he came to faith, he made the decision that one day he would die for Christ. Every Christian in North Korea has made that choice. Every Christian in my country has the spirit of martyrdom in him. If you lose that spirit for one second, you cannot carry the burden of being a follower of Jesus. My friend knew that one day he could get caught and on that day he had to be steadfast in the faith and loyal to Jesus. I am convinced he can take the suffering because he constantly reminds himself of “the joy that is set before him.”
The suffering North Korean Christians reveal Christ’s supremacy because they look at the reward: Jesus Christ Himself. He is our Treasure. He calls us to Himself, to suffer outside the gate and bear the reproach He endured (Hebrews 13:12-14).
“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin”
1 Peter 4:1
“Thou hast granted me life and favour, and thy visitation hath preserved my spirit”
Nothing less than the presence of God can preserve, restore and refresh the soul of His Own. The heart of the true child of God was made for His presence. The focus of life is to live in Him and to have His life holding us in the firm grip of grace and glory.
“Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee”
The longing and pursuit of life is summed up in knowing Him. The Pearl of Great Price incites a singularity of purpose (Matthew 13:45-46). In His beauty the desire for other things is dissipated and drained of force and power within the human heart. Life becomes a journey consumed in the one great love, the one great quest and the one boundless pursuit of knowing Him.
Religion with all of its rituals, precepts and demands fail man’s inherent need… the visitations of God Himself! It is by His Presence we are preserved, refreshed and made right. He is our salvation, He is our strength and in Him alone are we kept clean from this present world.
“Surely the righteous shall give thanks unto thy name: the upright shall dwell in thy presence”
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.
These words are addressed to those of God’s children who have been pierced with the arrow of infinite desire, who yearn for God with a yearning that has overcome them, who long with a longing that has become pain.
“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.”
A dead body feels no hunger and the dead soul knows not the pangs of holy desire. “If you want God,” said the old saint, “you have already found Him.” Our desire for fuller life is proof that some life must be there already….
“While salvation is a free gift, the ‘winning Christ’ can only be through unreserved consecration and unquestioning obedience. Nor is this a hardship, but the highest privilege”
– Hudson Taylor
“Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ“
– Philippians 3:8