Christian leaders from North Korea attend the landmark World Evangelical Conference organized and led by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome in London.
A North Korean delegation of pastors and Christian leaders recently participated in the World Evangelism Conference hosted by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome in London. North Korea is a notoriously difficult nation for Christians to live in and worship openly. The North Korean pastors who attended the World Evangelism Conference were advocating on behalf of Christians in North Korea and their plight.
World Evangelism Conference Unites Nations
The World Evangelism Conference held August 9-11th at the SSE Arena in Wembley, London brought Christian leaders from over 170 different countries together in fellowship. The event was hosted by influential Nigerian Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, the founder and president of LoveWorld Inc. Participants in the conference included Pastor Benny Hinn, Dr Morris Cerullo and Evangelist David Hathaway.
The participation of the North Korean delegates in the conference, made possible by Pastor Chris Oyakhilome, helps to raise awareness by highlighting the persecutions Christians face in North Korea and around the world.
Christians in North Korea largely practice underground – keeping their beliefs private and known only within their immediate families. The extent of the persecution of Christians in North Korea has been described in accounts by those who have defected and fled the oppressive country. They describe prayers conducted in silence, hymns sang at a whisper and standing watch for informers to protect others.
Persecution of Christians in North Korea
The Christian faith is all but outlawed in North Korea, where the country’s dictator, Kim Jong Un, maintains a strong grip on power and is the subject of a national personality cult elevating him to god-like status. Individuals in North Korea found to be in possession of Bibles, holding open religious services and operating underground church networks could be subject to torture, long prison sentences or even executed.
The UK-based Christian advocacy group Open Doors recently reported that one in three Christians in Asian experience a ‘high level’ of persecution for their faith. The organization estimates that there are around 300,000 Christians in North Korea – most of whom worship in secret networks of house churches. There are an estimated 50,000 and 70,000 Christians currently imprisoned in labor camps for practicing their faith.
Open Doors issues a ‘Watch List’ of countries where the persecution of Christians is deemed to the most extreme. North Korea has topped this list for 18 years in a row. Recently, they have reported that the persecution of Christians has worsened in 2019. Since 2001, North Korea has been included on the list of countries violating religious freedom issued by the US State Department.
Christians have not always been persecuted in North Korea. Prior to the Korean War (1950-53), there was a thriving Christian population in the country. Since that time, the government has systematically repressed Christianity – seen as a threat from the West.
There are five government-sanctioned churches in North Korea’s capital of Pyongyang, however, most experts believe that these churches are fake. They have been established to create a façade – covering up the nations religious abuse while simultaneously winning outside aid. Observers have noted that churches are closed during Sunday worship and their sermons are often focused on politics rather than religion.
Evangelism is a Dangerous Practice in North Korea
Evangelism is a dangerous undertaking for North Korean citizens. With the government’s increased efforts to dismantle all channels for spreading Christianity, evangelicals face certain persecution. However, there are a small number of North Korean Christians willing to risk everything trying to share their faith.
Many North Korean Christians who have defected maintain their anonymity to protect the safety of their family and friends still living in North Korea who could be arrested or subjected to discrimination.
North Korea has arrested and imprisoned missionaries from South Korea and the United States accusing them of allegedly trying to build underground church networks. The government views these networks as a direct threat believing that they undermine the power of the regime and that their main objective is to overthrow the regime.
Pastor Chris Declares that United we are Stronger
During his keynote address, Pastor Chris welcomed the delegates from all the nations present. When he announced the presence of the North Korean pastors, the audience responded with fervent applause, marking the monumental significance of their representation at an evangelical event.
Pastor Chris acknowledged the growing persecution of the Christian faith worldwide stating that “It never destroys us and always strengthens us.” Those gathered in London for the World Evangelism Conference bear witness to this truth of this statement. Pastor Chris has brought together thousands of evangelical Christians including those from countries where Christians are discriminated against and oppressed, a testament to the resiliency of their faith.
The World Evangelism Conference featured a breakout session with a diverse panel of ministers from North Korea, Uzbekistan, China, Hong Kong and Azerbaijan who spoke on the current state of Christianity and evangelism in their countries and around the world. In addition to the challenges they face, each delegate also spoke about the various opportunities available for practicing and sharing their faith
The landmark conference offered a unique opportunity for pastors, ministers and Christian leaders from around the world to join together in peaceful fellowship. Pastor Chris inspired those who attended the event to build bridges and bring people together through their faith. Sharing love as a way to defeat hate. Pastor Chris Oyakhilome and other evangelical leaders hope that the monumental event becomes an impactful means of transforming hearts and minds in ways that might lead to positive change for Christians in North Korea and around the world.