North Koreans are "searching" for spiritual truths and eager to embrace the Gospel despite being forced to participate in the "demonic" practice of worshiping former ruler of the isolated country, the leader of an international ministry has revealed.
Speaking to Mission Network News, Patrick Klein of Vision Beyond Borders opened up about spiritual climate in North Korea, which has remained at the top of Open Door USA's World Watch List of countries where believers face the most persecution for 14 consecutive years.
He said that while a whopping 69 percent of the North Korean population is non-religious, worship of the leaders, especially Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, is greatly encouraged - and sometimes coerced.
Klein revealed that North Korean citizens are forced to wears pins of the leaders as part of the country's propaganda. At night, when the streets are dark, status, murals and images of deceased leaders remain lit up. Similarly, inside houses, images of Kim Jong Un adorn the walls, and children are taught of the "miraculous" powers of the leaders.
"This is really demonic because these men have been dead for years!" he said. "And it's like they have such a stronghold over the country, and it's such a grip. And it's like, Lord, the only thing that's going to change North Korea is you, Lord."
A report released last month by the Christian Solidarity Worldwide said that there are thousands of Christians suffering from extremely harsh torture in labor camps. In some cases, Christians are hung on a cross over a fire, and at times crushed under a steamroller.
But while intimidation keeps many Christians silent about their faith, many maintain the desire for true hope.
"People are searching. I think what happens too is sometimes people are able to leave and go to China and they are exposed to the Gospel, hear the Gospel, they go back in and share that," Klein says.
And, despite facing overwhelming persecution, North Korean Christians don't pray for their freedom, but for Western Christians who are more interested in accumulating earthly wealth and possessions than storing up treasures in Heaven.
"They don't pray for freedom and money. They pray for more of Christ and to mirror more of Christ in their life," the Rev. Eric Foley, the head of Soul-based Voice of the Martyrs Korea, told Hope 103.2.
He shared that one defector stated: "You pray for us? We pray for you. ... You have so much, you put your faith in your money and your freedom. In North Korea we have neither money nor freedom, but we have Christ and we've found He's sufficient."
The pastor said that Western Christians shouldn't necessarily be praying for freedom for North Koreans, but for courage to stay strong in Christ as they face continued persecution.
"Because they see that in many ways, we lack happiness, because money and freedom can't bring that," he added.
"There is one Body in Christ, there's not a 'persecuted Church in North Korea' and a 'free Church in Australia,' there's one body," Foley said, "and we're commanded [by the Bible] to remember those who are in prison, as if we were in prison also."