A church member approaches you after Sunday service and shares that she has been diagnosed with cancer. She even mentions she will start chemotherapy soon.
Your most likely response?
“I’ll be praying for you.”
When our brothers and sisters in Christ are hurting, it’s only natural that we want to pray for them. It’s what we do as believers. We help carry each other’s burdens through prayer, whether our fellow believers live just down the street … or around the world.
And right now, one group of Christians on the other side of the globe desperately needs your prayers — North Koreans.
Believers in North Korea are facing not only some of the worst persecution on earth, but they’re also on the verge of starvation due to a historic famine. Please pray for them.
Don’t know where to start? Here are some specific prayer requests sent from our friends in North Korea on how you can be praying for their most urgent needs.
1. Pray for families who are starving and for the people delivering food
The pandemic, recent natural disasters, and increased isolation has plunged North Korea into a second period of extreme hunger similar to the 1990s famine that killed millions of North Koreans.
One of the main causes of food scarcity throughout North Korea is the fact that its borders have been sealed since last January. In hopes of preventing coronavirus outbreaks, the government quickly took action to block access in and out of the country.
But in doing so, they also blocked most of their food supplies.
North Korea imports many of their crops and food. So, after trade with China dropped 80 percent, families struggled to find groceries, and more people are now going to bed hungry each night. These extreme lockdown measures have been in place for more than a year … and people can’t hang on much longer.
Thankfully, our partners already had a secure underground network for distributing Bibles, and now they have been able to use that same network to start distributing food as well. However, the need is so great that they are struggling to keep up with the demand.
How you can pray: Pray that starving North Korean families will be able to survive until help arrives, and pray that our partners will be able to continue distributing as much food as possible.
2. Pray for the underground church to continue growing
Persecution and constant surveillance make it difficult for North Korean believers to worship. In fact, authorities frequently raid homes where the family is suspected of being Christians. An estimated 70,000 people are currently serving prison sentences in North Korea for following Christ. Just imagine living in such a place!
Still, believers eagerly gather in small groups whenever they can pray and worship together. They still share the Gospel with trusted family and friends every time they get the chance.
Their hunger to see God’s Word spread is stronger than their fear. And as a result, the underground church has grown tremendously over the past decade.
In fact, the limited number of Bibles inside North Korea hasn’t been able to keep up with the growing number of Christ-followers. Many underground believers have only a few memorized verses or hand-copied passages of Scripture to read and share with others.
How you can pray: Pray that underground church members will continue to boldly share the Gospel, and pray they receive more Bibles to help them in their mission.
3. Pray for North Korean defectors
“North Korea, as a whole, is a prison,” one of our North Korean partners said.
Even if a person isn’t literally serving a prison term, their circumstances — with almost no food or freedom — make every day feel like a jail sentence. That’s why some believers try to escape.
But getting out of North Korea isn’t easy. The borders are filled with barbed-wire fences, land mines, and a host of armed soldiers. These soldiers have orders to “shoot to kill,” especially since the start of the pandemic.
It’s no wonder why this area is considered the “world’s most dangerous strip of land.”
There is an underground railroad of sorts by which some North Korean defectors have escaped, but the danger doesn’t always end once they reach the other side. If they are caught and sent back, they face extreme punishment. And often their families, who remain in North Korea, will be increasingly watched or persecuted because of the person who escaped.
Our partners have been able to meet and help some of these defectors who have escaped. Some have even trained and studied the Bible with our partners and now they are eager to go back to North Korea and share what they’ve learned with others … even if it means making that possibly deadly crossing again.
How you can pray: Pray for the safety of North Koreans who are trying to escape, for those who already have, and for those who are eager to return to North Korea and share the Gospel.
4. Pray for the children of North Korea
Young children are especially vulnerable to death by starvation, so it’s even more important that North Korea’s boys and girls receive the food they need to stay healthy during this famine.
Our partners have also asked that you pray for “supernatural protection over the children’s minds.”
Every day that a child is in school is a chance for the government to indoctrinate him with the regime’s rhetoric. Children are taught that Kim Jong-un and his late father are deities, and no other god deserves their loyalty. Christianity, then, is considered a betrayal of one’s country.
There have even been instances where children were rewarded with a prize at school for turning in their family members who are Christians! For this reason, many parents are afraid to tell their own children about Jesus.
How you can pray: Pray for the health of North Korea’s children and that they be able to supernaturally discern between what is right and what is wrong in what they are being taught.
5. Pray for the day when North Korea will be opened and its people will be free
North Korean Christ-followers believe with all their hearts that God will open North Korea someday — whether that be through godly leaders that He raises up … or through the radical transformation of Kim Jong-Un and his family through the power of Jesus Christ.
They know that we worship a God of miracles, and if He can part the seas and raise the dead, He can do this too!
In fact, the underground church is already training missionaries inside of North Korea so they will be ready to spread out all over the country once it opens. They are that confident of what God is going to do, and they ask that you join them in praying that day comes soon.
How you can pray: Pray with confidence that God will open North Korea and that the church will be ready to flood the country with help and hope when that day comes.
Thank you for praying for your North Korean brothers and sisters in Christ.
If you’d like to help in another way, you can also give a financial gift to provide food and Bibles to underground believers. Every $20 you give will provide one week of food to a starving North Korean plus his own copy of God’s Word.
And since believers often share their Bibles with trusted family and friends, each copy you send is likely to impact at least five people!
So please pray for North Korea and give if you’re able.