The United States-based Christian humanitarian aid organization World Help has launched a donation drive aiming to secretly provide 100,000 new Bibles to underground North Korean worshipers by the end of 2017 in order to feed an insatiable demand for God's Word in the isolated and oppressive nation.
As North Korea has been ranked for the past 16 years as the worst persecutor of Christians in the world, World Help is now taking steps to ensure that the growing number of house churches in North Korea have Bibles to feed their spiritual "hunger."
World Help President Vernon Brewer told reporters on a conference call Monday night that he recently traveled to the North Korean border and met with missionary partners who bring Bibles into the country.
"There are never enough Bibles no matter how many we can print and smuggle into the country. There are never enough bibles to keep up with demand," Brewer explained. "Right now there are North Korean believers who have never even held a Bible, let alone other Christian resources. They may have a few verses memorized or a few chapters from the New Testament scribbled on a piece of paper, but they are hungry for more."
World Help launched a donation fund that allows people all over the world to help share the Gospel with North Koreans who desperately seek to grow in their newfound faith.
"The North Korean underground church is desperate for God's Word," Brewer stressed. "The only thing they asked me for is more copies of God's Word. They knew getting caught with a copy means these believers will likely go to jail. They know the risk is worth it. They are anxious to read God's promises contained in the pages of Scriptures."
According to World Help, a $10 donation will pay for one Bible to be put in the hands of a North Korean believer. Brewer stated that many house churches in North Korea share one Bible among the members. So he said that $10 could impact five people.
"We cannot allow our brothers and sisters in Christ to suffer alone. We can't stop the persecution but we can do something to help them in their walk with Jesus Christ," Brewer contended.
Brewer could not share specific details about how World Help will distribute the books to underground believers due to safety concerns. However, he assured that World Help's partners are experienced in smuggling Bibles into North Korea.
North Korea's latest census figures show that there are about 300,000 Christians, which is up from about 200,000 since the last census, Brewer said. However, he stressed that the Kim regime conducted the recent census as a step toward eradicating Christians from the country.
"The regime is desperate to keep an iron grip on the country," Brewer said. "The fact that a growing population of North Korean believers believe in an all-powerful God is far stronger than the regime and quite frankly, that scares them. It scares them enough to make them round up entire families up to three generations and throw them in labor camps."
Brewer explained that there is an estimated 70,000 Christians believed to be imprisoned in North Korean labor camps, where they are forced to work long days and are tortured brutally.
"A believer can be sentenced to up to 15 years in a labor camp just for owning a Bible or singing a hymn or praying," Brewer said. "They are suffering torture. That's almost a quarter of all North Korean Christians. One out of every four Christians in North Korea is being tortured in prison as we speak."
According to Brewer, a 15-year sentence is essentially a "death sentence" because "most Christians die within three years because the torture is so intense."
"There are Christians going to these labor camps that will never come out. They are starved, beaten and tortured physically and psychologically," he warned. "They are forced to work 13-hour days. Christian Solidarity Worldwide discovered recently that the believers in labor camps are even used in dangerous drug trials. They are treated as human lab rats. Young boys are mutilated and dismembered and girls are systematically raped."
"[It's] just like our own American citizen Otto Warmbier, who came back in a coma with marks on his body of torture," Brewer continued. "That's what our brothers and sisters in Christ in North Korea, 70,000 of them, are experiencing right now."
Although it is illegal to own a Bible or worship, Brewer asserted that Jesus is worth the risk.
"I believe God is challenging the World Help family and you and me to respond to the believers in North Korea," he declared.