Sunday, November 14, 2010

2010 International Day of Prayer

Today is the 2010 International Day of Prayer for the persecuted Church.

For the past year I have had the privilege of being part of a weekly prayer meeting to pray for North Korean refugees here in the United States and for the people of North Korea.

North Korea tops Open Doors' World Watch List again in 2010, as it has every year since 2002 as the country where Christians are most persecuted. According to Open Doors, 
"There is no other country in the world where Christians are being persecuted in such a horrible and systematic manner," says Carl Moeller, President/CEO of Open Doors USA.

One expert on North Korea stated: "Christians are the target of fierce government action, and once caught, are not regarded as human. Last year we had evidence that some [of those captured] were used as guinea pigs to test chemical and biological weapons." 
 This video gives a brief overview of the humans rights crisis in North Korea.

The following is from Open Doors:

"North Korea is a country close to my heart. Nowhere in the world are Christians persecuted with such hatred and violence. Nowhere are people so misled by the 'father of lies' than in North Korea. I love every North Korean. I pray desperately that they will know that it is not 'father' Kim Il-Sung who is taking care of them, but Jesus Christ." – Brother John

Brother John supervises the work of Open Doors in North Korea, and his words are a reminder of the importance of praying for North Korean believers. "What North Korean Christians know is that thousands of people pray every day for them," he explains. "We told them that. It encourages them in a way that is indescribable."

As Christians around the globe unite in prayer, we know that our combined prayers are powerful and effective. North Korean defectors who have escaped to South Korea have specifically asked that Christians pray during North Korea Freedom Week because prayer is the most important way we can support those who suffer.

As Open Doors' founder Brother Andrew says, "If we want to leave an indelible mark on the world, there is no more powerful way to do it than by joining in God's purposes through prayer. Our prayers can go where we cannot. While many things may seem impossible from a human standpoint, in the realm of prayer there are no impossibilities."

Beyond all the talk about nuclear weapons, there are people. People who are suffering. People who are imprisoned. People who are starving. People who are publicly executed. Will you join me in praying for North Korea?

The following prayer guide is also from Open Doors:

Prayer for North Korea

DAY 1. Pray for the prisoners

"However, if you suffer as a Christian, do not be ashamed but praise God that you bear that name." - 1 Peter 4:16
It is estimated that there are 200,000 people in prison camps in North Korea. Between 50–70,000 are Christians. Prisoners are exposed to severe violations of human rights, such as torture, execution, use of humans for weapons testing. Many die from starvation and overwork.
  1. Pray for the closure of the prison camps and the release of the captives
  2. Ask God to sustain the 50–70,000 Christians in prison camps
  3. Pray that they would be a witness to their fellow-prisoners.

DAY 2. Pray for the hungry

"They were hungry and thirsty and their lives ebbed away. Then they cried out to the Lord in their trouble and he delivered them from their distress." - Psalm 107:5,6
In 2008, food production dropped for the third year in a row. In the coming year, 40% of the population will be dependent on food aid. Between 2 and 4 million people have starved to death since 1995.
  1. Pray that the harvest will be large this year. Pray for a miraculous multiplication of food for the hungry
  2. Give thanks that in 2009 Open Doors was able to help more people
  3. Ask God to bless Open Doors' food distribution project. Pray for safety for those who deliver the food.

DAY 3. Pray for the church

"Therefore stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord" - 1 Corinthians 15:58
The proclamation of the Gospel is strictly forbidden. A few 'show churches' are used to convince outsiders there is 'freedom of religion' in the country. Despite the dangers, an underground church has developed. Christians meet together in secret for Bible studies and training courses.
  1. Give thanks for the courage and perseverance of Christians who continue to meet together to teach and encourage one another
  2. Pray for the safe delivery of Bibles and Christian literature
  3. Pray that those attending state churches will gain insight into the truth.

DAY 4. Pray for a breakthrough

"For our struggle is not against flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." - Ephesians 6:12
Kim Jong-Il is holding fast to his idea that North Korea is 'paradise on earth'. He recently demonstrated his 'goodwill' by releasing two American journalists and opening the border with South Korea so that Korean family members can be reunited. Despite these attempts at rapprochement, political negotiations with North Korea remain a challenge.
  1. Pray that the Lord will change Kim Jong-Il's heart and bring him to repentance
  2. Pray that people will see through the lie of idolatry and turn to the living God
  3. Pray for revival in North Korea.

DAY 5. Pray for families

"You will be secure because there is hope; you will look about you and take your rest in safety." - Job 11:18
Many parents in North Korea cannot provide the basic resources of food and shelter that their families need. Many children have been abandoned. Families where one or more parents have been imprisoned have enormous difficulty surviving.
  1. Pray for Christian families who share the little they have with others. Pray for God's abundant provision in their lives
  2. Pray that God will comfort and provide for the families of Christians who have been imprisoned
  3. Pray that Christian families in prison will have opportunities for fellowship and will feel the love of Jesus in spite of their situation.

DAY 6. Pray for justice

"But let justice roll on like a river, righteousness like a never-failing stream!" - Amos 5:24
When Christian escapees are caught they are often publicly executed as an example to others. Strict control over all aspects of people's lives means that no one can speak out for justice without severe retribution.
  1. Pray for an end to the barbaric practice of public and private executions
  2. Pray for Christian lawyers, journalists and civil activists to speak out boldly for freedom of religion in North Korea
  3. Pray for those without rights and resources, that they would know the love of Jesus and see justice restored.

DAY 7. Pray for evangelism

"My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message." - John 17:20
Pyongyang was once called the 'Jerusalem of the East'. Nowadays the watchful eyes of the government
ensure that any known Christians are persecuted with more cruelty, hatred and violence than anywhere
else in the world.
  1. Pray for Christians to find supernatural strength to reach out to their neighbours with Christ's love
  2. Pray that Christians who travel into North Korea to conduct business would have opportunities and boldness to share the hope of the Gospel
  3. Pray that the work of mission groups and individuals serving North Korean Christians will be Christ-centred and glorifying to God.

A prayer for persecuted believers

Almighty God, ruler of nations, We bring before you the people of North Korea.
You are the God who provides: give food to those who are hungry.
You are the God who rescues: bring freedom to the captives.
You are the Father to the fatherless: protect those who are vulnerable.
We remember especially those who are paying a high price for following Jesus.
Give strength to those who are in prison.
May they know your grace sustaining them.
Give courage to those who continue to meet to worship you despite the dangers.
May they find hope in your Word.
Living Lord, we pray that your kingdom would come in North Korea.
Let its citizens be governed with justice: may your people worship you in freedom.
We ask this for the glory of your name,


DeniFay said...

Thank you for sharing this Becky. I often live in such a little bubble here with my freedoms and ability to go to any church any time. I will be praying for this country and their people and the people who have an impact on them!

Flakymn said...

What a powerful video.

Alicia said...

WoW, what a powerful reminder to us all of the horrid plight of the N.K. people. Also what a reminder that we aren't powerless; we can lift these people up to the Lord daily.

Thank you Becky