If you think North Korea’s dictators are bad for the world, just imagine what it’s like to be a Christian there. Anyone who knows anything about world missions and the global church knows about the Christians of South Korea. According to the Operation World prayer guide, “From the first Protestant church planted in 1884, South Korea now has possibly 50,000 Protestant congregations,” and 15 million Christians of all kinds. It’s also a missionary powerhouse, currently sending more than 21,000 missionaries to about 175 countries. Amazing! But the Christians of North Korea? They’re virtually invisible, though of course not in the eyes of the Lord Jesus! Operation World says that although no one really knows their true number, there could be as many as 350,000 underground Christians living in the slave state of 24 million people. 

When you consider that the government there, whether run by the Japanese occupiers during World War II, or the current cult-like, totalitarian leadership, has been trying to stamp out all vestiges of Christianity for about 70 years, that’s also amazing. Tragically, and infuriatingly, up to 100,000 of these brothers and sisters in Christ are locked up in harsh prisons or work camps. Where did they all come from, and how do they survive? Well, in answer to the first part, it’s a fascinating story. Did you know that from the late 19th century until 1942, Pyongyang, North Korea’s Orwellian capital city today, was known as the “Jerusalem of the East”? According to Providence journal, “a Presbyterian medical doctor named Horace Allen  became physician to the king of Korea and received royal permission to proselytize after saving the life of a royal family member severely wounded during an attempted coup. 

Presbyterian and Methodist missionaries from the United States followed, and along with Catholic and other Protestant missionaries from other countries, they found Koreans to be receptive to their message in large numbers. A quarter of a century later in 1910, Korean Christians numbered over 200,000, two thirds of them Presbyterians and Methodists, in a country of approximately 13 million people.” If the city of Seoul was receptive to the gospel, and it was, Pyongyang was even more so. Following a series of revivals in and around the “Jerusalem of the East,” by 1910 the region was the most heavily Christian in all of Korea. Of course, most of us know what happened next. After World War II, the communist regime of Kim Il-sung attempted to stamp out all foreign religions, especially Christianity, which was branded a tool of “Western imperialism.” 

Missionaries were thrown out, churches closed, and many Christians executed for their faith, with many more pouring into democratic South Korea at the end of the Korean War. So how do those who remain survive? As with all of us, by God’s grace. Today, Open Doors USA reports, North Korea is the most oppressive place in the world for Christians. “Due to ever-present surveillance,” the agency says, “many pray with eyes open, and gathering for praise or fellowship is practically impossible. Worship of the ruling Kim family is mandated for all citizens, and those who don’t comply (including Christians) are arrested, imprisoned, tortured or killed. Entire Christian families are imprisoned in hard labour camps.” It’s no wonder that one North Korean Christian lady who escaped continues to pray a simple prayer she learned from her mother: “Lord, Lord, please help!”

Source: Open Doors

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He not only hated Christians, he directed his followers at the mosque to attack them. But after he died and was being prepared for burial, he stunned his family by returning to life with a new message of salvation. Munaf Ali, 45, was an influential imam as well as scholar and preacher of Islam in a Middle Eastern country. One day a team from Bibles4Mideast approached the imam and they entered into a vigorous discussion about the authority of Jesus and the Bible. Munaf denied the divinity of Jesus Christ and the credibility of the Bible. Pastor Paul offered him a copy of the New Testament but he refused to receive it. Visibly upset, the imam cursed the pastor and his team. That night the imam incited a mob to attack the place where Pastor Paul and his team had been staying with shouts of “Allahu Akbar.”

But the Holy Spirit directed them to leave that location a few hours earlier, narrowly escaping the attackers before they arrived, according to Bibles4Mideast. A few days later, following Friday prayers, Munaf was returning home when he suddenly felt dizzy, fell to the ground, lost consciousness and died. After his physical body expired, he was aware of demons coming for his soul. “Get lost, you cursed demons of Allah. You have no right to take my soul!” the imam asserted. “No. It’s our right to take your life,” one of the demons replied. “And you will be with us,” as he forcefully grabbed the imam and began to depart. But suddenly, Jesus Christ appeared before the imam with a large retinue of angels and the demons quickly fled in terror. Then Jesus spoke to his heart: Listen, my son. First Adam disobeyed God and sinned against Him under Satan’s influence.

I am the second Adam, the Word of God and the Messiah Jesus, Son of the Most High. I was born of the virgin Mary, as a sinless Son of Man to redeem Adam and all of his descendants including you from sin and death.  I was crucified and died as a ransom for all your sins to make you a child of God and citizen of heaven.  I was raised from the dead and opened the gates of heaven to bring you back to eternal glory. Have faith in me and be my witness. I give your life back, for I have the authority of giving life. When Munaf’s soul returned to his body, his sons and other family members were trying to lay his body on a table for washing and preparation for burial. Many other people were also in the room. His family and friends were astonished and some began to shriek when Munaf opened his eyes and sat up on the washing table. Many were frightened and backed away, as if they saw a ghost.

“I was dead and demons tried to take my soul but Jesus came and gave my life back,” he began haltingly, and then proceeded to describe his experience. Some believed his report, but others refused to believe and began to ridicule him. One said Munaf must have hit his head and lost his senses. “He is possessed by an evil spirit,” someone charged. Munaf became a bold witness for Jesus Christ, telling his family and anyone who visited him about his remarkable experience. His immediate family believed what he said about Jesus and accepted Him as their Saviour and Lord. As a result of his witness, he was dismissed from the mosque and told to see a psychiatrist. The community began to persecute them. A short time later, facing serious threats, Munaf and his family left their native country. Prayer for Munaf and his family, that God would protect and provide for them as they minister in the region.

Source: God Reports

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On his fourth day at a new school a Christian teen was brutally attacked and killed in the classroom by Muslim students as the teacher looked the other way. Sharoon Masih, 17, an excellent student who scored high marks at his former school, was murdered on August 27th.  His impoverished parents had been advised to encourage the young man to pursue higher education, rather than put him to work. His father, Elyab Masih, 35, saved money from his work as a labourer at a brick kiln to pay for Sharoon’s admission at the school in the Vehari District in the Punjab. Sharoon was bullied from the first day he joined the school. He happened to be the only Christian within his class. Sharoon’s mother Riaz Bibi, 30, told BPCA that Sharoon was warned by other students not to mix with Muslims at the school. “You’re a Christian; don’t dare sit with us if you want to live,” one of the Muslim students threatened. 

Sharoon’s mother spoke highly of her son. “My son was a kind-hearted, hard-working and affable boy. He has always been loved by teachers and pupils alike and shared great sorrow that he was being targeted by students at his new school because of his faith. “Sharoon and I cried every night as he described the daily torture he was subjected to. He only shared details about the violence he was facing (with me). He did not want to upset his father because he had such a caring heart for others.” Reportedly, there were attempts to convert Sharoon to Islam, but he refused to back down from his faith in Jesus. As Sharoon was beaten, “a cacophony of insults” were shouted at him. The violence was “of such sickening ferocity” that he died almost immediately in the classroom, according to BPCA.

Apparently, the teacher overseeing the classroom ignored the beating and subsequently claimed he was reading a newspaper and did not notice the attack. Later the teacher changed his story and said the attack happened between classes and that one teacher arrived late, which allowed the incident to occur without being noticed. The School’s governing body dismissed the teacher from his post. One student, Muhammad Ahmed Rana, was arrested and confessed to the crime but displayed no remorse. Rana has been unwilling to name any others involved in the attack. He claims that Sharoon smashed the screen on his smart phone, which provoked the attack. Wilson Chowdhry, chairman of the BPCA, is calling for a reform of the educational system in Pakistan, for the removal of a bias within the national curriculum, which openly demonizes and caricatures Christians.

Source: British Pakistani Christian Association (BPCA)

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Political tremors shook Germany after Chancellor Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic Party claimed victory in last Sunday’s election. But many Germans voted to push the country to the right, based on anger over Merkel’s liberal immigration policies. Exit polls show the nationalist AfD party, Alternative for Germany, not only won its first parliamentary election, but it might have won close to 100 seats. It’s now the third strongest party in Parliament. AfD has been labelled anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim. The party harshly criticized Merkel’s policy of allowing a flood of refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war into the country in 2015. Merkel has been in power for 12 years, and this will be her fourth term as German chancellor, but she’ll face a difficult task of forming new coalitions in Parliament. “We live in stormy times,” Merkel declared. “I have the intention of achieving a stable government in Germany.”

Major Jewish groups expressed dismay that the AfD is suddenly the third largest party in German Parliament. The World Jewish Congress calls the party “a disgraceful reactionary movement which recalls the worst of Germany’s past.” Some protesters were more blunt, calling the AfD “Nazis.” AfD leaders dismissed such talk. Chairman Joerg Meuthen said the election sends a message “that there is conservative politics in Germany again, and that there are patriots in the German parliament again. I want to emphasize that there is absolutely no risk of extreme right politics in the German parliament,” he said. Fellow European right-wing populists hailed AfD’s performance. The Netherlands’ Geert Wilders wrote on Twitter: “The message is clear. We are not Islamic nations.

Source: CBN News

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A teenage boy who dressed in girls’ clothes and used a girl’s name has spoken out about returning to his birth sex. Patrick Mitchell, believed he was a ‘girl trapped in a boy’s body’. Patrick was diagnosed with gender dysphoria aged 12, after saying he was unhappy with his male body. His mother Alison said doctors “were wrong to pigeonhole him so quickly”. “I think they should have said we have a child who does have gender dysphoria and he’s going through a period of transition where he needs to work out exactly how he feels'”, she added. Alison decided to give him puberty blockers, before allowing him to take her own oestrogen hormones. “We were wanting to fuse his bone growth to reduce his height a little bit”, she said. Australian paediatrician Dr John Whitehall warned against parents giving out oestrogen to children. 

He said there is “no proof” that this improves their “emotional problems” and it is completely “experimental”. Dr Whitehall, who has more than 50 years’ experience treating children, added that it was “not uncommon” for children to be confused but they usually “grow out of it”, as was the case for Patrick. After turning 14, Patrick changed his mind and said “I’m just not sure that I am a girl. I guess I just realised that I could be happy without completely changing who I am”, he added. He has now moved with his mother from their home in Australia to London for a “fresh start.” In the UK, figures emerged from a London-based clinic which works with children diagnosed with ‘gender identity disorder’. Referrals to the clinic rose from 1,419 in 2015/16 to 2,016 in 2016/17, a 42% increase. The figures also showed that referrals have been increasing at an alarming rate since 2009, when there were under 100.

Source: Christian Institute

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Pastor Edward leads a church in Damascus, Syria. He says “I want to express my deep appreciation for the people in the West who keep us Christians in Syria in their prayers. My wife and I are so thankful that we are able to remain in Damascus. It is not in our own power that we are here. It is only by God’s intervention in our lives. Your prayers encourage us. They enable us to encourage others. You can be part of this battle through praying against those powers of darkness and against the bloodshed and the evil that is spreading in our country. We never lose hope. We know that on the road to Damascus the Lord Jesus Christ changed a terrorist called Saul into Paul. And we still have this faith because Jesus is the same. He is still the Sovereign Lord who can change the hardest hearts and convert the vilest sinners and make them saints.”

Please pray:

*     for pastors sharing the gospel in some of the hardest places to be a Christian. Pray for their protection and boldness.

*     for Muslims in Syria and the Middle East, that they will come to know Jesus for themselves.

*     for Christians and refugee families, that God would provide for their needs.

Source: Open Doors

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