In the light of the severe human rights restriction faced by North Koreans, the UK-based human rights group Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) has called on churches worldwide to join the week of prayer for the country.
The Week of Prayer for North Korea will run from Sept. 19-25 this year. During that week, there will also be the International Day of Prayer for Peace on Sept. 21, set by the World Council of Churches (WCC), which invites the world to pray for an end to violence and injustice particularly in Asia countries.
"The immensity of the need and the deep spiritual darkness in North Korea requires urgent and intense prayer by the Body of Christ", said CSW's Chief Executive Mervyn Thomas, in a statement released Wednesday.
CSW has long been working on the human rights issues in North Korea. It described the country as "the most closed of all societies in the world today".
Not only there is no freedom to preach the Gospel, but also the whole nation is forced to revere the leaders in a form of idolatry that is reminiscent of that imposed by Nebuchadnezzar in Daniel's time," CSW reported.
CSW added that those who have adopted or shared the Christian faith are subjected to extremely harsh penalties, such as execution or imprisonment. Even family members of a Christian bear the same risk under the abhorrent concept of guilt by association.
The prisons in North Korea are in horrible conditions. Prisoners suffer from terror, dehumanizing abuse, violence, forced labor and starvation, CSW reported. In fact, very few are able to survive.
Even within this barbaric environment, CSW revealed, "Christians are singled out for particularly harsh treatment, given the most dangerous and unsanitary jobs and subject to ongoing pressure and abuse."
CSWs Chief Executive concluded, "We know of no country in which the state repression of Christianity is so thorough and violent."
"For decades the desperate need of the North Korean people has remained hidden and forgotten due to the isolation and severe repression against those who might speak out," Thomas said.
CSW strongly urges the Church to fervently pray until "the forced imposition of idolatry and the violent suppression of faith fall, and the walls of darkness and repression crumble."
CSW also asked for the support of all Christians, encouraging them to "remember those in prison as if you were their fellow prisoners, and those who are mistreated as if you yourselves were suffering," as written in Hebrews 13:3.
There is a wide range or resources available to those who wish to pray or to lead meetings on North Korea. For details, visit the CSW website.