A Heart for the Persecuted | God's World News

A Heart for the Persecuted

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    Wendy Wright, second from left, and others fill bottles with rice, Bibles, and radios. The river’s current carried the bottles from South Korea to North Korea. (CFI, photos by Wendy Wright)
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    Wendy Wright is the president of Christian Freedom International. (CFI, photos by Wendy Wright)
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    Wendy Wright meets with North Korean escapees. These escapees now work with Christian Freedom International. They help struggling elderly escapees in South Korea. (CFI, photos by Wendy Wright)
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    CFI gives out audio Bibles to North Korean escapees. (CFI, photos by Wendy Wright)
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    CFI sets up shelters like this one for escapees. (CFI, photos by Wendy Wright)
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After becoming a Christian at 16, Wendy Wright heard a man named Richard Wurmbrand speak at her church. A pastor in communist Romania, Wurmbrand spent 14 years in prison and wrote a well-known book: Tortured for Christ. “It framed my Christian worldview,” says Wright. “Persecution is what Christians experience all around the world, all throughout history.”

Today, Wright is the president of Christian Freedom International (CFI). The ministry sends aid like food and Bibles to persecuted Christians. It sets up schools, including one in Thailand. But CFI faces unique challenges when it comes to looking after Christians in North Korea.

It’s hard to imagine how isolated North Korea is from the rest of the world. The state government controls television and internet, so North Koreans can’t get information from the free world.

North Koreans must memorize the teachings of Supreme Leader Kim Jung Un. Christianity could threaten Kim’s authority. So Kim controls what people are allowed to know. If someone is caught talking about the Bible, that person could be sentenced to 15 or more years in prison. Friends, family, and coworkers could be labeled as “hostile.”

Without government permission, no one can leave. Poison-coated concertina wire lines the border, giving anyone second thoughts about trying to break through. Those attempting to leave by boat face extremely cold temperatures—unless armed border guards get to them first. Since the 2020 pandemic, Wright says the number of escapees has dwindled to just several dozen each year.

Christians aren’t supposed to exist in North Korea, so the government doesn’t take a census. Because of that, Wright doesn’t have exact numbers for what is happening with church growth there. But there have been more imprisonments and executions lately. That suggests the underground church is likely growing. A new term in the North Korean vocabulary supports that theory: “Judas.”

There’s much work to be done to reach and help North Korean believers. CFI cannot enter North Korea. Helping people escape is the first priority. CFI partners with North Korean contacts to get defectors to safe houses. Getting scripture into North Korea is the next hurdle. Delivering Bibles is dangerous, and many new converts can’t read. Most of the defectors Wright works with have never seen a Bible. The solution? Short-wave radios. The iPod-like devices work on solar power and can pick up Free North Korea radio. The station broadcasts scripture readings and Bible dramas.

“Energy sources are not as abundant as they are in the West and in America,” says Wright. “But the Sun is everywhere.”

And so is our God.

Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! — Psalm 139:7-8

by Bekah McCallum in Duluth, Georgia

Why? Learning about the persecuted church shines a light on the blessing of religious freedom. It also encourages us to pray for the spread of the gospel.

For more on North Korea, see The Bulletproof Missionary by Keriz Rosado in our Recommended Reading. 

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