North Korea: Uncertainty Looms Over Long-Suffering Church - Plus Egypt - Sinai Monastery Attacked

Source:  

Date:  April 19, 2017

by Elizabeth Kendal

The Korean Revival of 1907 (also known as the Korean Pentecost) stands in 
history as one of the great transformative revivals of the 20th Century. 
Geopolitically, it was a tense time. Aware that a spirit of fear and 
negativity pervaded the annual winter (January) Pyengyang Bible Class, its 
organisers bathed the event in prayer. On the evening of Monday 8 January 
1907, the Holy Spirit descended in power on the gathering of some 1500 Korean 
Bible teachers, pastors and missionaries. The result was an out-pouring of 
prayer, marked by a deep sorrow over sin. The next day it continued: the 
Class was gripped by a spirit of repentance which culminated in confession, 
forgiveness and reconciliation. Over time the movement spread to the point 
that the Korean capital, Pyengyang (Pyongyang) became known as 'The Jerusalem 
of the East'. But, in the mystery of God, the Korean Church would not be 
permitted to remain on the spiritual mountaintop for long.   

Located as it is between China and Japan, Korea had long been the site of 
proxy wars as her powerful, imperialist neighbours fought for control over 
the peninsula. On 22 August 1910 imperialist Shinto nationalist Japan annexed 
Korea, ushering in a 35-year period of intensive religious persecution. In 
1919 (in the wake of World War 1) Korean Christians led a movement for 
independence. But the hoped-for Western support did not eventuate. Instead, 
they were imprisoned and the persecution intensified. One consequence of this 
terrible period was that Christianity became associated with Korean 
nationalism and the profile of the Church was raised.  

During the course of World War 2 the Korean Peninsula came to be divided 
along the 38th parallel, with the north under Soviet occupation and the south 
occupied by America. On 25 June 1950 the communist north invaded the south, 
triggering the Korean War. Though a ceasefire was declared in 1953, the war 
was merely frozen, not ended. After the border closed, an estimated 2,300 
churches with about 300,000 members disappeared from the north. Under the 
rule of the Kim family, Christianity is prohibited with the threat of death 
for the believer and labour camp for the extended family. Thus the Christians 
of North Korea have known little else but intensive suffering for over 100 
years. Despite the persecution, the Church has survived and is believed to 
number between 300,000 and 500,000. Those who are not struggling to endure 
horrendous prison labour camps, survive as secret believers. God alone 
sustains them, and one day they will emerge as Korea's light, salt and 
healing.  

Today, geopolitical tensions are approaching boiling point. North Korea is 
convinced the US-led West would not have removed Saddam Hussein in 2003 if 
Iraq actually had weapons of mass destruction and that the US-led West would 
not have removed Colonel Muammar Gaddafi in 2011 had he not given up Libya's 
weapons of mass destruction. So North Korea will not willingly disarm, but 
will retain its weapons program for the purpose of deterrence. It remains to 
be seen how the Kim regime responds to a real existential threat. It is 
difficult to know how to pray, for though we want to see the situation 
change, we do not want to see Korea's long-suffering Church engulfed in 
apocalyptic fire. All we can do is give the situation to God, plead for his 
mercy and ask that he interpose himself into the Korean crisis for the 
well-being of his Church and the glory of his name.  


PLEASE PRAY SPECIFICALLY FOR GOD TO

* intervene in the Korean crisis creatively, according to his wisdom, to 
fulfil his good purposes, that ultimately the Church in North Korea might be 
liberated to be a blessing to the whole Korean Peninsula and a witness to the 
watching world.  

'Be merciful to me, O God, be merciful to me, for in you my soul takes 
refuge; in the shadow of your wings I will take refuge, till the storms of 
destruction pass by. I cry out to God Most High, to God who fulfils his 
purpose for me. He will send from heaven and save me; he will put to 
shame him who tramples on me. God will send out his steadfast love and his 
faithfulness!' (Psalm 57:1-3 ESV)  

* pour out his Holy Spirit in power upon his beloved Korean Church, that she 
might erupt yet again in Spirit-led prayer that the Korean Peninsula might 
once again be transformed.  

'Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!' 
(Psalm 57:5 and 11 ESV) 'Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says 
the Lord of hosts.' (Zechariah 4:6 ESV)

* EGYPT: Sinai Monastery Attacked

A policeman was killed and four more were wounded on Tuesday 18 April, when 
Islamic militants attacked a security checkpoint outside St Catherine's 
monastery in Egypt's South Sinai. The world heritage listed 6th Century 
monastery is popular with pilgrims and tourists and is said to stand at the 
site of the biblical Mt Sinai. Islamic State has claimed responsibility. 
Please pray for Egypt and its Church.  

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