Daily Devotional for Wednesday July 12, 2006
Why the World Should have Cared about North Korea Long Before Now
As North Korea defied the world last week by testing several missiles, the spotlight is now shining on that country's evil dictator Kim Jong Il. Sadly, it has only been in recent years as North Korea has ramped up its nuclear program and has become a real threat to peace in that region and the rest of the world, that people have begun paying attention to what this country and its dictator are all about.
Kim is clearly one of the most evil men living today. He has isolated his country and people from the rest of the world, ruled by brainwashing the North Koreans into proclaiming him to be like God, forced into prison or killed anyone who defied him, and has been responsible for literally millions of his people dying from starvation. Kim Jong Il is not only evil personified, but one of the ways he tries to control his people is by keeping God and the Bible out of the country. Those who simply proclaim Christ in North Korea end up in hard labor camps for decades or are tortured and executed. To send a message to others, the families of those who preach Christ are often put into prison or killed.
Being a Christian in North Korea means you will probably end up in prison or killed by the government. When you get saved in North Korea, you understand that it means you will most likely be killed for your new faith. I wonder how many would be at the altar in our churches here if people knew accepting Christ would probably cost them their very life?
It is pretty sad that as long as Kim was starving his people to death, killing those who stood up to him politically, and worst of all, imprisoning and killing those who proclaimed Christ, nobody really cared or paid much attention to him. Now that he is close to having nuclear capabilities and testing missiles that could carry a nuclear war head, this sick dictator has people's attention. I pray that in the midst of dealing with the military threat North Korea poses to the region and the rest of the world, this will cause enough outrage from the world community that they will find a way to help the North Korean people.
I have more than a passing interest in what is going on in North Korea. As an evangelist, my heart yearns to be able to bring those poor souls the love of Christ and the eternal hope they can know in Him. As many who have been with Liveprayer for a while know, my wife of nearly 23 years is from South Korea. During the first 6 years of our marriage I made 8 trips to that great country. It is such a gross contrast when you compare the affluent South where the name of Jesus is lifted up and glorified in freedom, and the impoverished North where even saying the name Jesus can bring a person years in prison or even death.
Last summer and fall, I worked for many months on a plan to go preach in North Korea. This all came about from someone in the Liveprayer family who until the first of the year had a prominent position on the staff of New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson. Richardson, the former United States Ambassador to the United Nations and U.S. Secretary of Energy under President Clinton, has made several trips to North Korea, the most recent one late last year. After many conversations with this person on the Governor's staff, as well as several key people I was directed tot talk to in the State Department, I came to realize that I would accomplish NOTHING by going to North Korea and end up simply being used by Kim for his propaganda purposes.
I found out that EVERY MOVE would be carefully choreographed by the North Korean government. Those I would be able to "preach" to would be nothing more than government props. I would have to have my message approved in advance and even if I was able to use my own interpreter, there would be no altar calls, no opportunity to let anyone really open their hearts to the Lord since anyone in attendance would all be government loyalists. I was briefed on the trip Billy Graham made to North Korea many years ago and sadly, he was simply used by the North Korean government and never given a chance to do anyhting constructive while he was there.
In addition, there would be the mandatory trip to the tomb of Kim's father, Kim Il Sung who founded North Korea in 1948 and was even a more evil and brutal dictator than his son until his death in 1994. All who visit his tomb are required to bow. My friend in the Governor's office who has been reading the Daily Devotional for many years told me that he knew I would never bow at Kim's father's tomb and it could cause an international incident. I was also informed that there would be ZERO opportunity to ever speak to any Christians who were in prison for their faith, and of course, the leaders in the existing underground church would never be able to visit with me.
So after many months of talks, strategizing, and much prayer, I decided to not pursue this opportunity since there was nothing positive for the Kingdom that would come of it. We will keep praying and believing God to help us find a way to reach the North Korean people with the Gospel. In the meantime, please be praying for our brothers and sisters there who are literally putting their lives on the line to have a simple worship service or share their faith. How ashamed we should be when we are so "busy" we can't even go to church on Sunday, and Believers in other parts of the world are being imprisoned and killed just for being at a church service. How ashamed we should be when we are afraid to share our faith because someone might not like us, and brothers and sisters in Christ in other countries are being killed for telling people about Jesus.
Also, pray for those brave men and women of God who risk their lives each day to smuggle Bibles and Christian materials into countries like North Korea so people can hear aobut Jesus. There are many incredible men and women of God who put their life on the line each day to serve God in places like North Korea. Men and women whose names the world will never know, but I guarantee you God does. Again, how ashamed we should be when we have the incredible freedoms and opportunities to bring Christ to the lost and hurting and choose not to. Pray for these heroes of the faith in counties like North Korea who are literally giving their very lives for the Gospel.
Let me share some good news with you in this part of the world. For the past year now, we have been very successfully blasting salvation emails to hundreds of thousands of email accounts in China. It has not been the Daily Devotional since the government monitors Internet traffic very closely and would never allow our type of daily, personal ministry to exist very long. However, we can do email blasts and have been sending a message a month for a about a year now. We will continue to develop our strategy to reach over ONE HUNDRED MILLION Chinese people who are on the Internet today.
I love you and care about you so much. It breaks my heart knowing so many people are not only living in such horrible conditions in North Korea, but most of all that they have little or no access to the Truth of God's Word. They are living without even knowing how much Jesus loves them. I believe that through the great technology of our day, the Internet and satellite television, we will find a way to get the message of Christ's love to the North Korean people, just like we are getting that message to the Chinese people. In the meantime, there are great men and women of faith who put their lives on the line each day to bring Jesus to people in places like North Korea. Forsaking their own lives to reach others with His hope!
I pray today that this will encourage you and challenge you. Here in the United States we have such incredible freedoms and opportunities to do almost anything, we are only limited by our own imaginations. I pray that we will not take those freedoms and opportunities for granted. As I have shared in the past, there will come a day when we won't have the freedoms and opportunities we enjoy today. We have to beg people to go to church, yet I tell you a day is coming when we won't be able to gather as a church in public. If people are timid to share their faith today, how timid will they be when a death penalty will be the price for sharing your faith?
God has given us this season in human history to make a huge impact for His Kingdom. There is NOTHING that we can't do for Christ. We have the freedom, the resources, and the ability to literally reach the world, even those in places like North Korea and China, with the Gospel. God will hold us accountable one day for our service. All who know Christ as their Savior have been called to serve Him. I pray today that the Holy Spirit will move on your heart about how you can do more to reach the lost and hurting in your life, in this nation, and around the world. Now is the time, this is the moment, God is calling His people forth to boldly declare His name to the world we live in.
It is time to care about the people in North Korea, the people in China, the people in Africa, the people in the Middle East, the people in Europe, the people in South America, the people here in the United States...ALL the people in this world who are living their lives without Christ. The world may not care, but we as the followers of Christ MUST CARE!