An organization seeking to support persecuted Christians in North Korea who live under the world's most oppressive regime has said that believers there are surprisingly not praying for their own freedom, but rather for their Western brothers and sisters who are tempted by money and material wealth.
The Rev. Eric Foley, the head of Soul-based Voice of the Martyrs Korea, said that he has spoken with Christians in North Korea who've told him they are not praying for a regime change.
"They don't pray for freedom and money. They pray for more of Christ and to mirror more of Christ in their life," he told Hope 103.2.
International Christian Concern added that in some ways, life for Christians in North Korea, where the practice of religion is against the law, is as bad or worse than many people can imagine it, with believers hunted down, imprisoned and murdered.
Still, as Foley said, Christians in the North are actually praying for Westerners rather than for themselves.
One defector remarked: "You pray for us? We pray for you. … You have so much, you put your faith in your money and your freedom. In North Korea we have neither money nor freedom, but we have Christ and we've found He's sufficient."
The detailed report goes into the many instances of intense persecution and suffering Christians face under Kim Jong Un's regime, with entire families of Christians being punished for their beliefs.
It also explains that the North Korean ideology of "Juche," which consists of citizens singing hymns in Kim's honor, is in a way a corruption of Christianity.
"The reason why North Korea's so threatened by Christians, is that Christianity is able to unmask Juche as a fraud. Christianity really is considered a subversive ideology, because it gives a different way of thinking about the value and purpose of human life," Foley explained.
Foley further said that Western Christians shouldn't necessarily be praying for freedom for North Koreans, but for courage to stay strong in Christ as they face persecution.
"Because they see that in many ways, we lack happiness, because money and freedom can't bring that," he added.
"There is one Body in Christ, there's not a 'persecuted Church in North Korea' and a 'free Church in Australia,' there's one body," Foley said, "and we're commanded [by the Bible] to remember those who are in prison, as if we were in prison also."
Several persecution watchdog groups, such as British-based human rights advocacy organization Christian Solidarity Worldwide, have revealed many details about what believers in the North suffer. A report earlier in September highlighted that some followers of Christ have been crushed under steamrollers, while others were hung on a cross over fire in what is but a small sampling of the many brutalities they face.
The report explains: "A policy of guilt by association applies, meaning that the relatives of Christians are also detained regardless of whether they share the Christian belief. Even North Koreans who have escaped to China, and who are or become Christians, are often repatriated and subsequently imprisoned in a political prison camp."
Suzanne Scholte, the chair of the North Korea Freedom Coalition and vice co-chair of the U.S. Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, told The Christian Post back then that CSW's report is an "accurate representation of how Christians are especially persecuted," and also shared her personal experiences of speaking with defectors, who have confirmed such stories.