In North Korea, you and your family can be tortured and/or executed if just one of you owns a Bible (Pegues 2006:150). Let that sink in for a second. Think about all the Bibles and other religious stuff you have lying around your house. On your bedside table or on dusty shelves or in jumble drawers underneath Chinese take-out menus. In another country, your pretty crucifix or multi-coloured WWJD bracelet could literally get you killed.
Those of us in free, democratic countries love to cry foul when other religions are granted the same rights we have; we call it ‘persecution.’ I wonder what someone from Nigeria, for example—where people are routinely shot or blown up at church services—would say when we complain about religious persecution? When we can freely attend church services and hold Bible studies and worship our God…all without being martyred for our efforts?
We can’t really imagine what that’s like, but we can try.
This weekend, hide your Bibles. All of them. Treat them as you would water when you’re thirsty in a country where liquid is illegal. Hide all the religious paraphernalia: the jewellery and the faith wear and the DVDs and the worship music and the glossy magazines. Put it in a box under a bed. Tape it to the underside of a desk. Bury it in the back garden. Remember that at any time people could come stampeding into your home to search it, and if they find these things, you lose everything.
When you go to church on Sunday, imagine that you’re afraid. You go anyway. While the minister is talking, expect the doors to fly open at any second, and armed men to come storming in. Feel the air shatter around you as an explosive detonates. Imagine getting dragged, punched and beaten and thrown into the back of a van that smells like sweat and fear; being separated from your family, not knowing whether you’ll ever see them again.
Imagine still wanting to call yourself a Christian. Imagine still believing in Jesus Christ as Savior and Redeemer; God as Almighty; the Holy Spirit as friend and confidant.
Just this weekend, pretend that this is your daily life. Now look to God. Now pray to Him. What has our privilege of worship been hiding from us?
- Inside North Korea’s War on Christianity.
- The Persecuted Church Prayer Devotional by Beverly J. Pegues (free e-book/pdf).
- Open Doors.
- Operation World.