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Christian Today – Christian group Open Doors UK, which works to serve and support persecuted Christians around the world, has reported a call for prayers for North Korea , the last surviving bastion of world Communism and one of the most closed-off countries in the world.

According to Open Doors statistics, at least 200,000 people are currently interned in concentration camps under harsh living conditions, with an estimated 50,000 to 70,000 of them Christians, according to ‘Brother Peter’.

“Without prayer the North Korean church can’t survive,” said Peter in the Open Doors press statement, who reported widespread suffering within the Communist country; smugglers and defectors are often tortured to death after being caught at the Chinese border.

“Their last days or weeks are terrible. The North Korean authorities submit them to days of interrogation and severe beatings without giving them food and water. Eventually they die,” he said. “Survivors are sent to the worst political camps.”

According to Brother Peter, the refugees that are successful in crossing the border into China are helped mostly by Christians, although this has been made difficult by the Chinese authorities who threaten border area churches with closure and churchgoers with up to five years in prison if they are caught aiding North Korean refugees.

“Many Chinese and Korean-Chinese congregations choose to cooperate with the authorities. I can’t tell any more which churches we can still trust,” said Brother Peter, who also reported widespread indoctrination by the North Korean government.

“North Koreans are indoctrinated beyond imagination. Their perception of Christians and Christianity is completely distorted,” he said.

Without prayers the North Korean Church can’t survive.

“They are grateful for the Christians who give them shelter, but also full of criticism. Christians who work with North Korean refugees have to accept that they are indoctrinated. It takes a long time before they see through the web of lies into which they were born,” said Brother Peter.

According to Brother Peter many of the refugees who find the true Gospel in the Chinese churches are keen to return to North Korea to evangelise their friends and families, despite the risk of being caught and put into a ‘labour camp’.

Successful evangelisms lead to the formation of numerous small house churches attended by around five or six people who meet secretly in houses, fields, forests and in the mountains.

Young members are particularly at risk of being caught by the authorities owing to their inexperience, reports Open Doors.

“It’s true that sometimes house churches are betrayed. When the police arrest them, there is not much we can do. We can only pray,” said Brother Peter.

“We don’t know anything about their faith after they are sent to a camp, but I do know we shouldn’t underestimate the power of God.”

According to Open Doors, many people in the underground church in North Korea are aware of the international Open Doors prayer campaign.

“The fact that other Christians know about them and pray for them gives them so much strength and hope. On behalf of the suffering Christians, I ask you to continue to pray, because without prayer support they can’t spread the gospel, don’t find the strength to remain faithful and can’t distribute Bibles,” said Brother Peter.

“Without prayer the North Korean church can’t survive.”

North Korea is currently under the reign of Kim Jong II, son of the notorious Kim Il Sung. According to estimates, at least 2 million people, or one tenth of the population, have died from starvation in the last 10 years.