When Kim Jong Un ordered North Korea to prepare its missile batteries for a nuclear attack against the United States last week, it made me think of Robert.
I met Robert five years ago. He was one of the orphans rescued from the war-scarred streets of Seoul in the 1950's. Pearl S. Buck brought him to the United States with other children so he could receive an education. Robert became a U.S. citizen, grew up and graduated from college with a degree in finance. He married, and was well on his way toward becoming a wealthy man. But he was miserable.
Through the influence of his wife and her family in Canada, he came to faith in Christ as an adult. After that, everything changed. He left his career, went to seminary and became the pastor of a Korean church in Texas. A few years ago God led him to Cuba where he had no contacts and no plan. He immediately met some Cuban believers and, since then, has been helping start churches in Cuba.
Robert says that the reason he has been starting churches in Cuba was to learn how to work in a Communist country so that when North Korea opens up to the gospel, he will be ready to return and reach those who were his enemies when he was a child. Recently he has been working in China among North Korean refugees praying for an open door to North Korea.
A few years ago my wife and I visited Seoul. We found a prosperous modern city in a growing economy. We rode efficient subways in complete safety. We attended a prayer meeting at 6 AM in one of the churches where more than one thousand South Koreans gathered to pray quietly with friends and family. Today South Korea sends out more Christian missionaries than any other country except the United States. It is the fourth largest economy in Asia and it is referred to as the “Miracle on the Han” because of its remarkable economic progress in the last fifty years.
North Korea, by contrast, is poverty stricken. Ruled by a strict Communist regime, its only hope for economic improvement rests in global nuclear intimidation. More than 3 million North Koreans died of starvation in the 1990s in what some have called the “last slave society on earth.” North Korea ranks first among nations persecuting Christians.
A couple of years ago, thousands at the Lousanne Conference were moved to tears by the testimony of an eighteen-year-old North Korean student who told of her family’s ordeal after becoming followers of Jesus Christ. She has not seen her father since 2006 when he returned to North Korea and was arrested for his faith. She believes he has been executed. She concluded her testimony by saying, “I believe God’s heart cries out for the people of North Korea. I humbly ask you, my brothers and sisters, to have the same heart of God. Please pray that the same light of God’s grace and mercy that redeemed my father and my mother and now me, will one day shine down on the people of North Korea.”