The Korean peninsula has witnessed high-octane hugger-mugger for the better part of the year. The grandstanding between the United States of America and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has provided succulent and yet nauseating fodder for all who care to follow geopolitics of the 21st Century. The leaders of the two countries have engaged high-speed gears in ensuring that they play their nice ruckus to bleachers. At each end of these opposing sides exists audience of obsequious acolytes. The game played by the premier league players leave some people wondering when dotage stopped being a preserve of the centenarians. The ‘grandchild god’ of the Hermit Kingdom is always dapper but at the same time dumb. Many have tried to offer diffuse solutions to defuse the uncouth situation to no avail.
The world powers have been working to calm one of the worst post-Cold War tension. As this attempts gained traction, the totalitarian regime continued with her brutish and brazen violations of basic human rights as enshrined in international statutes.
North Korea has been described as the worst place for any Christian to live. Torture and executions are commonplace. Anyone suspected of worshipping God is at the risk of capital punishment. Interestingly, it is estimated that slightly over 30% of North Koreans still practice Christianity. Torture, brutality, ostracization and death have not halted the spread of Good News. Those who defect from the communist nation speak of Christians being crushed by steamrollers, used in labs to test biological weapons or hung on a cross over a fire. The regime allows tattling for rewards and this result in paranoia and snitching even from close confidantes.
A story is told of a little school girl who, when asked by the teacher to bring the best book from their homes, came with a bible. She was given a prize the following day but found her parents missing that very day in the evening. In most cases, the entire family and relatives are not spared either. They are punished to the third generation.
Nazi-like Concentration camp
In 2013, The United Nations published a 374 – page report on the monstrosity to which the people of North Korea are subjected to under the watch of Kim Jong-Un. The report cited several concentration camps. The notorious of them is Kwalliso No. 22. Reports indicate that the hell-on-earth camp was closed in 2012. However, there exist other camps of similar putrefying standards. The UN report described North Korea as a ‘shock to the conscience of humanity’ and a place ‘that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world’.
Among the guests at the Kwalliso No. 22 were Christians caught practising their faith. Their families and relatives were huddled there too (based on the guilty-by-association principle). They were joined by people who criticized the communist government, the politically unreliable and purged senior party members. The detention would last until they breathed their last.
“Despite efforts to eradicate Christians, we have found the church is North Korea is actually growing. They know only God is powerful enough to break through the darkness of the most oppressive regime on earth.”
Vernon Brewer, founder and president of humanitarian organization World Help
Thriving in threats
The Scripture shows that the God of the Bible still functions in dysfunctional environments. This can be attested to by the happenings around the world. The seemingly difficult circumstances do not circumvent His purposes. It is the same case with our lives. He expects us to function even in the worst of the situations. We can sing in prison, dance in dungeons and laugh in languishment. This is something wonderful that I cannot completely wrap my mind around.
The inauspicious events in Ruth’s life did not cut short her march to becoming one in the genealogy of our Saviour. David’s terrain of life was littered with thorns and thistles; contrariwise this fuelled his powerful and unstoppable engine. Joseph, Moses, Joshua, Gideon, Hannah, Esther, Daniel and many more Hall of Faith alumni threaded through threats and deaths to fulfil their purposes as God had ordained for them.
The Book of Ephesians tells a similar story. The story of Paul is one of imprisonment and torments. He churns one letter after another despite the gloomy clouds of death hanging over him. He is a missionary without mobility. His hands were tied and he could not do much as pertaining to teaching the churches he had planted. Strife and false teaching (Philippians 4:2, Colossians 2:4-8, etc.) were at all-time high. He could have given up and wait for his final day. But he decided to address these problems while still in prison. This is the time he would have doubted his calling. Probably this is also the time his detractors would spread malicious information about him, or even doubt his calling.
We do not have to wait for the ‘right’ time to fulfil His purposes. We can still flourish in floods like Noah. We can mount like eagles even in times of storms. He is a God who can work in chaos and confusion. Nothing can thwart His purposes. Perhaps He wants you to wax in wars and wobbles. Thus He may never remove those bad conditions. It is paramount when we understand His character as this help shape how we view His Sovereignty.
“God moves in a mysterious way / His wonders to perform.”
Our faith in Him carries us through bad and good times. Our prayers fire up this faith. When our prayer life takes a nosedive then that is the time we feel the heavy burden on our shoulders. It is because we are trying to carry our faith, and no finite can carry the infinite.