On Wednesday, February 27, President Trump will be holding his second summit with North Korean dictator, Kim Jong Un.
The two will meet in Vietnam, and as I wrote about on Sunday evening, expectations for anything more than a show are pretty low. The Trump administration is already suggesting that the demands placed on the rogue regime be “softened” in light of the information from our intelligence community that they’ve done nothing to curtail their nuclear ambitions since the first summit in Singapore, last year.
Since that June 2018 meeting, our president has often sang the praises of Kim. He has rejected U.S. intelligence on the activities of the regime, and even told a cheering rally crowd that he and Kim had “fallen in love.”
Frankly, I’m all for civil discourse between world leaders, and feel more should be done to facilitate open, positive lines of communication.
That being said, there are tyrants in the world. There are places where human rights abuses are so dire that they require a strong voice of objection from the rest of the world. What you don’t do, is coddle and encourage these kinds of regimes.
North Korea is just such a place, and Kim Jong Un is just such a tyrant.
One of the things that baffles me most about the evangelical base for President Trump is how his repeated adoration of Kim has not raised any red flags, or resulted in any perceptible ripple in the sea of support the American church community has for him.
Where are the Christian leaders willing to stand up and say, “Mr. President, maybe you should look at what North Korea, under the Kim regime does to Christians in their land before praising him so openly”?
Open Doors USA, a human rights organization that tracks the most brutal and oppressive nations, in terms of Christian persecution, has North Korea ranked number one in the world for their treatment of the estimated 300,000 Christians who live there.
They have maintained that number one status for the past 18 years.
That puts them ahead of nations like Afghanistan, Somalia, Iran, Saudi Arabia, China, and Sudan, among others.
Just as a side note, Vietnam, where Trump and Kim will be meeting, is ranked at number 20 on the watch list.
There’s a wonderful verse from 1 Corinthians that speaks of the importance of unity in the Body of Christ – that is, the whole body of believers, who are meant to rely on each other to function and support each other in this mission that has been given us while in this life.
“And if one member suffers, all the parts share the suffering; if one member is honored, all rejoice with it.” – 1 Corinthians 12:26 AMP
If one member suffers, all the parts share the suffering.
How then should American Christians respond to the treatment of our North Korean brothers and sisters?
We should pray for them, absolutely. We should pray without ceasing for their safety and release from the ugly chains of oppression. We should pray for strength. We should pray for opportunities to change hearts within their government.
However, there are more tangible, worldly efforts American Christians can take up. Part of that should be calling for our president to address these abuses with Kim, or to at least take a more sober look at the man he claims to be in love with.
Since I’m not looking for Trump to speak of it, nor any of the Christian leaders that cling to him, I’m going to cover some of the abuses here, just as a refresher for those who know, and an FYI for those still in the dark.
To begin, there is actually an open “church” base in Pyongyang.
For the purposes of propaganda, there are about 4 different churches in the city. The leadership of those churches are usually intelligence agents. The “sermons” are not about the redemptive blood of Jesus Christ, but rather, obedience to the state. These churches also remain closed most days, other than for what is necessary to maintain the ruse.
The source of the persecution in the nation stems from atheism as a “state religion,” Communism, and a post-Communist society. In such societies, anything that might result in questioning the authority of the state is a threat.
Christianity is such a threat, because it preaches the supremacy of Christ above the fleeting systems of man. It is incompatible with a nation where the people are told to bow down and give honor to men.
Christians are considered “reactionaries.”
Citizens are, instead, ordered to worship Kim Jong Un and his father, Kim Jong Il.
What is life like for Christians in North Korea today?
To be outed as a Christian in the nation can result in imprisonment in harsh labor camps, not just for the accused, but for their entire family. Those who wish to worship must do so in absolute secrecy.
To be caught in possession of a Bible, or even a Bible verse is punishable up to death.
Christians meet in secret places, usually with a lookout posted outside, and they huddle, praying quietly, so as not to be detected.
Those who are caught are subjected to the harshest possible treatment.
One North Korean escapee, Choi Kwanghyuk, described the horrendous conditions for Christians. In an October 2017 Fox News piece, he, as well as a former guard for these prisons laid out a tale of horror.
There are multiple prisons to house and torture political “enemies,” but some are more feared than the others.
Also known as Hoeryong concentration camp, and part of a large system of prison camps throughout the Communist dictatorship, Camp 22 is an 87-square-mile penal colony located in North Hamgyong province where most of the prisoners are people accused of criticizing the government.
Inmates, most of whom are serving life sentences, face harsh and often lethal conditions. According to the testimony of a former guard from Camp 22, prisoners live in bunkhouses with 100 people per room and some 30 percent show the markings of torture and beatings — torn ears, gouged eyes and faces covered with scars.
Prisoners are forced to stand on their toes in tanks filled with water up to their noses for 24 hours, stripped and hanged upside-down while being beaten or given the infamous “pigeon torture” — where both hands are chained to a wall at a height of 2 feet, forcing them to crouch for hours at a time.
Tiny rations of watery corn porridge leave inmates on the brink of starvation, and many hunt rats, snakes and frogs for protein. Some even take the drastic measure of searching through animal dung for undigested seeds to eat. Beatings are handed out daily for offenses as simple as not bowing down in respect to the guards fast enough. Prisoners are used as practice targets during martial arts training. Guards routinely rape female inmates.
And this is the treatment given to Christians, if not executed, outright.
This is all in service to the false deity of the Kim family and the abhorrent conditions of the rogue nation.
So ask me why it is stomach-turning to hear our president fluff his American Christian base in one breath, but lavishly praise a bloodthirsty tyrant who targets Christians in the next.
We are not called to look after only the interests of our brothers and sisters in our nation, but for those around the world.
Our North Korean brothers and sisters are in chains, and that should grieve us in our spirit. We should be on our faces praying for breakthrough.
What’s more, we should be pushing our leaders to acknowledge the plight of Christians in the land. President Trump, especially, should not be giving the regime his doting approval. It is an insult to the faith.
Not that I believe Trump is a Christian. He openly rejected God before the nation, when he said during an interview that he didn’t bring God into his life. He didn’t do things to need forgiveness for. He simply tried to acknowledge his wrongs on his own, and to do better.
That is the exact opposite of Christianity.
American Christians celebrating this president should care for more than simply domestic policy and “owning the libs.”
They should also care about how their praise looks to those Christians who are suffering, while Trump praises their tormentors and executioners.
Pray for the church in North Korea.