Prayers are being sought for Christians in North Korea as the country goes through "100 days of combat" just days after "150 days of combat."
Though information is tightly controlled both into and out of North Korea and only news that favors the country's totalitarian regime is permitted, church leaders in the country were able to inform the Christian ministry Open Doors of the government's call for "100 days of combat" just five days after the end of "150 days of combat" on Sept. 17.
During these periods, all citizens are forced to work actively for the state each day and are sent to labor camps if they are found in the street without a valid reason.
"In this period the people don't have much of an opportunity to keep themselves alive," Open Doors recalled being told by local Christians. "In Hwangae province it's normal again to see dead children on the street."
To keep themselves alive, many North Koreans reportedly trade illegally at night. Those who are unable to see their children starve end up dying or leaving them – two options that lead to the same result: a lot of orphans roaming the country.
"If they are caught by the police, they are sent to an orphanage," reported an Open Doors' co-worker who the ministry identified as "Simon."
"Most of them die there because of maltreatment and malnutrition," he added.
Based on the little information that has come out from the reclusive country, Open Doors is hoping many Christians and churches in the free world will pray each week for country.
"North Korean Christians greatly depend on this prayer support," reported Simon.
"If we pray, we can immediately stand next to a North Korean Christian, encourage him and protect him," he added.
Open Doors USA President and CEO Dr. Carl Moeller, meanwhile, encouraged believers to remember those who must endure hardships amid what should be a joyous time.
"During this time of year when we gather in churches and with our families to celebrate the birth of Jesus, the grim situation in North Korea is another reminder that Christians in the West must reach out in prayer to our brothers and sisters in Christ trying to survive under evil dictator Kim Jong-Il," Moeller stated.
For seven years in a row, Open Doors has ranked North Korea as the No. 1 persecutor of Christians in its annual World Watch List, and each year the ministry also mobilizes support for suffering North Koreans during North Korea Freedom Week.
Inside the country, Open Doors works to spread Bibles, Christian books, food, medicines and other emergency goods among the Christians.
Established in 1955, Open Doors supports and strengthens believers in the world's most difficult areas through Bible and Christian literature distribution, leadership training and assistance, Christian community development, prayer and presence ministry and advocacy on behalf of suffering believers.
The next North Korea Freedom Week will be held Apr. 25-May 1, 2010. Open Door's next list of the world's 50 worst persecutors of believers, meanwhile, will be released Jan. 6, 2010.