Date: November 3, 2017
North Korea (MNN) — With the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church approaching this Sunday, November 5th, there is an obvious focus on praying for persecuted believers. But there’s something else you can do as well to encourage them: write a letter.
Each year, the Orange Letter Campaign with Uncharted Ministries focuses on a specific group of believers suffering for their faith to send letters to – and these letters are from fellow Christians around the world.
Two years ago, they sent encouraging letters from believers to the widows of the Egyptian men who were martyred on the beach in Libya by ISIS. In fact, the Orange Letter Campaign was so named in honor of these men for the orange jumpsuits they all wore as they were led to their deaths for their faith in Christ.
Then in 2016, Orange Letter Campaign’s letters went to Syrian Christian leaders on the frontlines. The past few years, they’ve been able to send around 2,000-3,000 letters, and this year they’re hoping for even more!
This year, the letters will be going to persecuted North Korean believers who defected out of the country. Tom Doyle, author of “Standing in the Fire” and with e3 Partners, explains, “This year, we felt like our focus should be North Korea. We have a partnership with Voice of the Martyrs Korea and we know this that there is at least 100,000 believers in North Korea, which is phenomenal when you think about that it is the worst country in the globe to live as a believer…. There are at least 100,000 believers, but 30,000 of them are in prison.”
North Korea has been at the top of Open Doors’ World Watch List for 14 years in a row as the country with the harshest persecution of Christians.
“So we’re writing letters to North Korean defectors, new believers that have come out of North Korea that we’ll meet with and encourage them. Also, Voice of the Martyrs and our new ministry, Uncharted, will be broadcasting into North Korea by radio to read some of the letters to believers there that have radios that hide at night and listen to Christian broadcasts coming out of South Korea.”
Doyle notes, “When you think about believers in North Korea, many of them know very little about their faith. So if people decide to write a letter, try to stay away from Christianese terms. They have no idea what those things are. But they know that Kim Jong Un is not God, that they’re searching for God, they’ve heard about Jesus. Some of them may even have smuggled Bibles in North Korea, and they meet privately — some of them in very small groups. It’s dangerous for them.
“But here’s the real story: the truth has set them free. Even in a terrible country like North Korea, they are free in Christ and we want them to know how much we love them and we’re honored to pray for them.”
Anyone from the Body of Christ can get involved, and it doesn’t even have to be a written letter! Doyle shares, “One thing that is just absolutely precious is that there’s a kindergarten in the US that they don’t write yet but they’re drawing pictures to take to the North Korean believers. So we’ve had everything from groups in rest homes all the way to kindergarten expressing their love and their prayers for our brothers and sisters in harm’s way.”
If you’re wondering if writing a letter even makes much of a difference in the face of all these believers have suffered and are suffering, Doyle assures that these letters really do have a significant impact.
“When we meet with believers, when we saw the faces last year of the Syrian leaders that had come out of Syria into Lebanon and we brought the letters to them, they were overwhelmed. There were tears.
“First of all, they didn’t think anyone even knew their plight. They didn’t know that the outside world knew that Christians were being crucified on crosses in Syria. So they were overwhelmed that there was this large family of God that stood behind them, that was praying for them.”
The leaders left feeling recharged headed back to the frontlines of their mission field. “They were recommitted to the point of going back into Syria to serve Christ knowing that they’ll probably be hurt, that they may die for their faith in Christ. But they said, ‘We know that the Body of Christ stands with us, so we go back in the power of the Holy Spirit and with the joy that our family is standing with us.’”
As you write a letter of encouragement to persecuted North Korean believers and pray for them, Doyle says we need to remember the spiritual battle at stake for their witness.
“I think no matter where we are in the world, Satan is going to try to stop us from coming to Christ. If he cannot stop us from coming to Christ, when we do come to Christ he’s going to try to keep us from growing. One of the ways he does that is to keep us from gathering. So we want the Body of Christ around the world to know that even if they’re alone, even if they’re studying the Bible in the middle of the night, they’re connected to a big family that prays for them, that loves them, that will spend eternity with them, and we want them to understand that.”