For the first time in history, the leader of communist North Korea set foot in South Korea, purportedly to negotiate peace. Here's how Christians can respond.
Last week, the leaders of North and South Korea met in person and vowed to begin negotiations that could lead to what just months ago seemed utterly impossible: the official end to the Korean War; and the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
Kim Jong-un, the murderous dictator of North Korea, promised to close his main nuclear test site in May and stated, "I hope we [will] live together soon as a new path forward. We will never repeat the past mistakes."
Now, let's start with what should be obvious: the words of a murderous dictator can never be trusted. In fact, the more cynical side of me thinks that the main reason Kim was so eager to talk may have been the collapse of his nuclear test site back in September.
Even so, does the world dare hope that something more is afoot?
It's far too early to think that the North Koreans are ready to "beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks." Since the bloody Korean War, North Korea has consistently remained among the hottest of global hot spots. Just three months ago, U.S. envoy Robert Wood warned that the Hermit Kingdom posed an "urgent and unpredictable threat to the United States, allies and partners,"
And whatever their new posture to the world outside their borders, North Korea has been an even more deadly threat to its own people, especially Christians. As my colleague Eric Metaxas told you last year, there could be up to 350,000 underground Christians living among North Korea's 24 million people, with up to 100,000 of these locked up in prisons or work camps, facing torture, even death. North Korea is consistently recognized by groups such as Open Doors as the globe's worst state persecutor of Christians.
In contrast, dynamic and prosperous South Korea is one of the most Christian-friendly nations in the world, with possibly 50,000 Protestant congregations and 15 million Christians. Even more, South Korea sends more than 21,000 missionaries to 175 countries.
While it's hard to imagine the two nations reunifying any time soon, the simple prospect that two states could work together to avoid nuclear or conventional conflagration that has threatened both countries for so long is worthy of our hopes and prayers.
What's much more difficult to imagine is that these new developments toward peace will bring any hint of freedom for North Korean citizens, or any increased access to Christian missionaries. Still, our prayers and plans for these ends must continue. In doing so, we will be joining with our South Korean brothers and sisters, who've been faithfully praying and planning for decades, asking God to intervene, to allow His servants to cross the border and share the gospel with their deprived brethren, to bring humanitarian aid, to start, to re-start, and to encourage churches on the ground in North Korea.
On its face, with what we know now, it sounds preposterous. No one knows for sure what Kim Jong-un is really up to. Well, God knows, and even more, God is at work. His plans are never, ever thwarted.
Even a cursory flip through Scripture reminds us that if God can rescue the children of Israel from Egypt and Babylon, He is well able to deliver the Korean followers of His Son today.
Let's covenant together as followers of the Lord Jesus to not let these headlines be an excuse to spiritually exhale and turn our attention elsewhere. Instead, we must turn to God with even more fervent prayer for North and South Korea, for their leaders, and for the leaders of nations around the world who have a role to play, and especially for the North Korean people.
In the name of He to whom all nations and all peoples will eventually bow their knee. Amen.