Greetings from the second week of 100 Days of Worship in the Common Places with the NK Underground Church!
- If you’ve signed up and are participating, make sure to post up on our Facebook page with what you’re doing and how things are going. (And check out the posts of others, including the story about the husband and wife–and newborn baby–who did the NK Underground order of worship together in the hospital right after giving birth!)
- If you haven’t yet signed up, it’s not too late. The participation kit is free; just cover the cost of shipping, and we can get it to you in the next few days. Here’s the signup page.
And whether you’ve signed up or not, here’s an answer to a question I get a lot: Why do NK underground Christians treasure the Ten Commandments so much?
Short answer: While a surprising number of Western Christians might view the Ten Commandments as a law from which we are set free by Christ, NK Christians receive the Ten Commandments as freedom–freedom from the idolatry of Juche, North Korea’s mandatory state religion.
Kim Il Sung was once a Christian. In fact, he was brought up in a very devout Christian family… It’s ironic that a man who came from such a religious family would erase his past once becoming a socialist. But he was no socialist – he was no more than the starter of Kim Il Sung-ism. He formed the ‘Ten Principles for the Establishment of the One-Ideology System’ which resembled Moses’ Ten Commandments – forcefully instilling it into us and compelling us to obey.
Here’s an example: ‘You shall have no other gods but me’ – this is a phrase from the Bible’s Ten Commandments. But it’s also seen in the Ten Principles – ‘You must be firm in your position which states there is not anyone or anything greater than the Great Leader Kim Il Sung.’
Once you look into the Ten Principles, you will notice Kim Il Sung took his political ideas from the Bible. Kim Il Sung also called himself ‘the sun’ and his son the ‘Shining Star of Paekdu Mountain’. They say if you commit your life to serving Kim Il Sung and his son, though your physical body may perish you will gain immortality in the political life. In purporting that he and his son were gods and therefore rightful leaders, Kim started creating a country of false religion that in no way adheres to socialist values. In North Korea, Marx’s and Lenin’s books are banned. I leave it to your assumptions as to why.
The core of Christianity is based around repentance, being forgiven and saved by God. Repentance is only confessed to God and forgiveness determined by him. And in North Korea? Every Saturday, North Koreans have to confess their wrongdoings and seek for forgiveness of the leader. It is as if North Korean’s political system has taken its stance somewhere between absolute monarchy and cultish fanaticism.
In These Are The Generations, the book I wrote with underground NK Christians Mr. and Mrs. Bae, my favorite part is Mr Bae’s depiction of an ordinary underground worship service, where the Ten Commandments formed an unshakable yet most ordinary and unremarkable pillar:
I first heard the Ten Commandments from the lips of my grandfather. He never called them the Ten Commandments, nor did he mention where they came from or who had given them. They were simply ten pieces of advice I would hear him give over and over again to my mother and father and uncle and other family members as we gathered together at my grandparents’ house each Sunday morning before dawn. Don’t steal. Don’t covet. Don’t lie. Honor your mother and father. No matter the problem, one of those ten pieces of advice always seemed to be the solution.
Perhaps one of the benefits of participating in the 100 Days campaign will be that while we are standing in solidarity with the NK underground church and remembering the Ten Commandments daily, some unexpected solutions to some unrecognized problems in our lives may somehow emerge…