COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. (ANS) -- As Christians living in America, we can often feel sorry for believers in other countries who are not as "well off" as we are in the West.
Millions of Christians around the world will unite in prayer for the persecuted church this Sunday (Nov.11), remembering those Christians experiencing persecution, who couple their experiences with thankfulness to God for “the privilege of suffering for His name’s sake.”
But the founder of one organization that partners with the North Korean underground church says that it's the American church, not the North Korean church, for which North Korean Christians pray with concern.
In a media release, Reverend Eric Foley, CEO of Seoul USA, says he was surprised when he first asked members of the North Korean underground church how Americans could pray for them.
"They answered, 'You pray for us? We pray for you!' When I asked why, they responded, 'Because Western Christians often put so much faith in their prosperity and political freedoms that they don't know what it's like to have to depend completely on God. And because of that, they often do not get to know him in all the ways he invites us to.'"
Foley is the author of the new book, These Are the Generations, a rare, first-person account of generational imprisonment and Christian faithfulness of one North Korean family. The story begins with the experience of the family patriarch in World War II and continues through the imprisonment and escape of his grandson, one of the book's co-authors.
NK authorities captured and imprisoned the grandson, Mr. Bae, because he believed in God and evangelized a friend.
Bae says being a Christian in prison is far from a pitiable situation. "It's like seminary," he says. "I prayed for others daily. My faith grew by leaps and bounds even as my body decayed."
Foley's hope for this Sunday's International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church is that Americans would not pray for persecuted believers but with them. "North Korean believers like Mr. Bae always tell me not to pray that they would be removed from persecution but that they would be faithful in the midst of it -- and that we, too, would be fully faithful to God in the midst of our own situation, which is often the persecution of prosperity, that is, the ability to be insulated from suffering rather than taking up our cross daily as well."
c. 2012 ASSIST News Service. Used with permission.
Michael Ireland is an internet journalist who has served as chief correspondent and senior international correspondent for ASSIST News Service since 1998. He is an international British freelance journalist who was formerly a reporter with a London (United Kingdom) newspaper and has been a frequent contributor to UCB UK, a British Christian radio station. He has reported for ANS from Jamaica, Mexico, Nicaragua, Israel, Jordan, China and Russia.
Publication date: November 9, 2012