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North Korea demands sanction lift; believers feel impact.

12/19/06 North Korea (MNN)–North Korea wants sanctions lifted before dismantling its atomic program. The rogue state remains defiant in the face of punitive international reaction, while the average citizen takes the brunt.

Paul Estabrooks is a minister-at-large with Open Doors. “It’s been a difficult year in North Korea for the general population. They had floods in July that damaged the crops again this year, so there is again a shortage of food, energy supplies. So, sanctions and challenges that are placed against the country, affect our brothers and sisters significantly, along with the general population.”

It’s dangerous work, evangelizing in such a closed country, but Estabrooks says there’s hope. “Both on the China side of the North Korea border, and within the country itself, we have contacts and colleagues helping Christians in that area. It is probably the most clandestine aspect of our ministry in the fifty years that Open Doors has existed.”

North Korea has topped Open Doors’ World Watch list for several years. The semi-annual World Watch List ranks countries according to the level of persecution Christians face for actively pursuing their faith.

Over the years, it has become apparent that the communist dictatorship of Kim Jong Il works to eradicate all belief systems other than the worship of the government ‘trinity’.

Despite concerted efforts to stamp out evangelism, the church has survived. Open Doors reports that Christian refugees escaping the country have, in the past, told of small house churches. They rarely number more than 10 individuals, often including only family members for security.

Religious freedom is guaranteed in the constitution, but in reality religious activity is discouraged. Scripture is banned in North Korea, and a majority of the people have never heard God’s Word, seen a church, or heard about Jesus Christ. Many Christians are in prison camps because of their faith in Christ.

Open Doors is offering a way to help support the believers there. Because traditional help is difficult to distribute, they’re asking people to join a round-the clock prayer vigil. Click here if you want want to sign up.

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