Why are we passionate about praying for the people of DPRK (North Korea)? It is because we worship a God whose concern is for the salvation of all the peoples in the world, including the people of DPRK. God is on the throne. He is in control. He is at work in DPRK. God’s concern in situations like this is best demonstrated by the story of the Israelites in Exodus.
The Israelites’ Cry (Exodus 1:11-16)
In Exodus 1:11-16 the life of the Israelites under a new king, who did not know about Joseph, was sheer misery. They were enslaved and oppressed. They were ruthlessly worked; their lives were made bitter with hard labour.
Their situation was similar to what people in DPRK are going through. Between 80,000 and 120,000 people are in labour camps for crimes against the state.1 In 2016 there was a 70-day struggle period to prepare their citizens for battle followed by another 200-day struggle period, when they had to eat one less meal a day and work longer hours with fewer resources. Some 50,000 people are also working as labourers in foreign countries to earn money for DPRK.
A NASA satellite image of Northeast Asia at night in January 2014 showed that in the middle of four brightly lit countries, Japan to the east, South Korea to the south, China to the west, and Russia to the north, there was darkness This was DPRK. It is a fitting picture of the people in DPRK living without light, in more than just a physical sense. Sadly, they remain a people neglected and forgotten by man. They are unknown, unreached, uncared for and un-prayed for by the worldwide Church.
God’s Response (Exodus 2:23-25 and 3:7-9)
The cries of the Israelites were not in vain because their cry went up to God (2:23 and 3:9). Through these two passages, we see God’s personal response. The personal pronoun, ‘I’, appears five times, emphasising his personal involvement. Furthermore, we see the breadth and depth of
- He knows – God looked on them (2:25).
‘I have seen their misery’ (3:7)/‘oppression’ (3:9), ‘I have heard their cries/groaning.’ (2:24, 3:7,9) God’s eyes and ears were opened to them. He is the God who sees and the God who hears.
- He loves – ‘I am concerned (about their suffering)’ (2:25, 3:7).
It was not just knowing in his mind, God’s heart was moved. He is the God of compassion.
- He cares – ‘I remembered my covenant’ (2:24),
‘I have come down to rescue them’ (3:8), ‘I will bring them up out of that land into a good and spacious land….’ (3:8). It was not just knowing in the mind and being moved in the heart, God cares enough to take action.
God has not forgotten his people. Neither has God forgotten the people of DPRK. God has demonstrated his sovereignty in the midst of their trials by increasing the opportunities for North Koreans to hear the gospel. Since around 2000, DPRK has opened the door to outside help initially for humanitarian aid, and then also for help in development, education and small businesses.
God is at work on behalf of the people in DPRK.
He knows, he loves, he cares; nothing can dim these truths.
How should we respond? (Exodus 3:10)
After God explained his concern and plan for action, Moses could have been tempted to think, ‘Great, God, you can do it.’ But Moses was in for a big surprise. God says, ‘So now, go, I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt’ (Exodus 3:10). God’s purpose is made clear in the refrain, ‘Let my people go, so that they may worship me as their Lord and Deliverer.’ The amazing thing is that God has a place in his mission for you and me. What a privilege! So what should be our response?
1. Open our eyes: to be aware of the needs of DPRK and her Church.
2. Open our minds: to be informed of various ways we can reach out to the people of DPRK.
3. Lift up our hands: to be intercessors for DPRK, her people and her Church.
4. Step out in action: to have practical involvement in reaching out to the people
5. Give our life: to prepare oneself as a witness of God’s love to the people of DPRK.
Jesus Christ has come as the light of the world to shine on those living in darkness and in the shadow of death (Luke 1:79). Where there is light, there is no darkness. Are you willing to be a light for the people of DPRK?
1. United Nations Human Rights Council, ‘Report on the commission of inquiry on human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’, 2014 p.12.