A Christian response to Muslim refugees

Today, Korean people—even Korean Christians—are especially worried about Muslim refugees entering Korea. We say, “Yemeni immigrants have come as fake immigrants! They have been trained to steal our women and to Islamize Korea!” We are concerned that we may lose the most precious and important things about our nation. We respond like Winston Churchill, who said:

We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be, we shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender.

But this is not God’s way. The center of the God the Father’s heart is his Son, the Lord Jesus. But the Apostle Paul teaches us in Romans 5:8 that “God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” In this, God shows us something that we human beings would never otherwise know: God uses what is most precious in order to reach his enemies, so that they might not perish but instead have eternal life. That’s John 3:16.

In the same way, God wants us to use the things that are most precious to us—our “island” (as Churchill would say), our marriages, our own lives—to reach his enemies with his love, so that they might not perish but instead have eternal life. Yes, even if it costs us everything. Because that’s what it cost Jesus, and we are his followers. We love our enemies the same way he loved his: unto death.

As Christians, we must remember that we are not called to fight against Muslims. As the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 6:12:

Our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this world’s darkness, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.

We do not claim that Muslim refugees are harmless and have good intentions for us. We claim they are slaves to sin, wills in bondage, captive to Satan. But we recall what the Apostle Paul told us about ourselves in Ephesians 2: We also were once slaves to sin!

As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient. All of us also lived among them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our flesh[a] and following its desires and thoughts. Like the rest, we were by nature deserving of wrath. But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved…

Therefore, remember that formerly you who are Gentiles by birth and called “uncircumcised” by those who call themselves “the circumcision” (which is done in the body by human hands)— remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

When we see Yemeni refugees, we do not see terrorists who are a threat to our “island”. We see men who were like we once were—sinners, captive to Satan, without hope and without God in the world. We remember that we were once like them, and our heart should break and go out to them. We should say like Paul does in Romans 9:3 that we wish we ourselves could be cut off from Christ if that would somehow help these Muslim refugees to come to know him the way we know him.

Now, we may say, yes, it would be good for the Muslims to come to know Christ. But Korean missionaries can go to Yemen and evangelize them. Korea is too precious to use for this purpose. It is too dangerous. And in this we can recall Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, crying out to the Father (in Matthew 26:39), “Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me.” Father, let there be some other way to reach these Muslims. But we must also recall Jesus’ next words: “Yet not as I will, but as You will.” Paul says in Acts 17:26-27,

[God] made every nation of men, to inhabit the whole earth; and He determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their lands. God intended that they would seek Him and perhaps reach out for Him and find Him.

The lands are his; the people are his; the times are his; he sends people to seek; he determines where they find him. We might say to the Lord, “Lord, let this cup of refugees pass from us; yet not as we will, but as you will.”

The Apostle Paul was himself once Saul, the murderer of Christians. He went to Damascus to murder Christians. But God gave him a vision, and Saul became Paul. Tom Doyle’s book, Dreams and Visions, shares the amazing research that 40% of Muslims who come to Christ do so through dreams and visions. You can read about it in the book. And now we can experience it here in Korea. Who knows why the Yemenis came, or whether they are trustworthy, or whether they, like Saul, have come “breathing threats” against us Christians? To how many of the Yemenis in Jeju has Christ already appeared to in dreams? How many Sauls are in that group who will become Pauls to reach their country, one of the most closed and least evangelized countries on earth?

Just as in every area of our lives we must die to ourselves and be alive only to God in Christ, we must repent of our desire to use our nation to serve our own desires and plans and goals. We must offer it back to God for his use in his appointed times. We must let him move the boundaries as he desires, for his purposes—not as we will, but as he wills.

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NK Christian: “We are not waiting for political changes that would make Christian work safer”

Dr. Foley and I just returned from the Netherlands, where we were hosted on a speaking and media tour by our dear VOM sister mission, SDOK. We were accompanied by “Mrs. Goo” (name changed for security protection), a North Korean who grew up in an underground Christian home and who continues to reach North Koreans wherever they are found as a VOM Korea Underground University missionary.

Early in the trip, many of those we met said to Mrs. Goo, “You must be excited with the peace process! Soon North Korea may be open to the gospel!”

Mrs. Goo listened quietly and graciously each time. I knew she must be thinking of her father. When many Christians fled North Korea when Kim Il Sung came to power–including the pastor of her church–her father insisted that her family must remain in order to care for Christ’s remaining sheep there. Though he was not a pastor or seminary graduate, he led the church as best he could–and he paid the price.

So each time after that that Mrs. Goo shared her testimony, she also shared the following greeting. For those who pray in well-meaning ways for North Korea to open to the gospel, it is a good reminder of the Church of Philadelphia that is the North Korean underground church, which for more than 70 years has lived and ministered and advanced the gospel in the light of Jesus’ promise, “Behold, I have set before you an open door, which no one is able to shut.”

Greetings on behalf of the 100,000 underground Christians of North Korea, 30,000 of whom remain faithful in concentration camps.

I am the product of that church. My father became an underground Christian leader when North Korea fell to communism in the 1940s. Most Christians fled to the south, including the pastor of our church. My father stayed and led those who remained at our church, and he and our family paid the price.

My life has been marked by great suffering because I carry the name of Jesus. But it has been marked by even greater grace, because Christ brings good out of whatever the enemy intends for evil.

Sometimes people will say that they pray for North Korea to open to the gospel. But North Korea continues to be open to the gospel, for any messenger willing to pay the price. For more than 70 years, North Korean Christians have gladly paid that price, and they continue to pay it today.

I have taken up the work of my father and serve as a missionary, having been trained at VOM Korea’s Underground University, supported by Dutch Christians through SDOK. I thank the Lord for your willingness to stand with us.

Christians in our country are actively doing the work of Christ today. We are not waiting for political changes that would make Christian work safer. We know that people in our country need Christ today, and so we bring Christ to them today. We ask only that you give us the tools to complete the work.

Thank you for your willingness to stand with us. May the Lord bless you all.


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Here’s the must-read story of a previously unknown NK martyr…which we discovered in an NK govt anti-religion training video

Voice of the Martyrs Korea has learned the story of a previously unknown North Korean Christian martyr from a North Korean government video used to train state security agents how to identify and silence proponents of religion inside North Korea.

The purpose of the North Korean government video is to discredit practitioners of religion. But by deciphering the story told in the video we learn for the first time about a bold and courageous North Korean evangelist who received Christ in China and returned to North Korea instead of escaping to the South.

Cha Doeksun NK martyr

Cha Deoksun, previously unknown NK martyr

According to the propaganda film, Cha Deoksun had been a strong revolutionary whose faith in the government wavered during the Great Famine. During this time, Cha Deoksun heard that she could get help if she visited a woman in the northwest. This woman told her, “There is a way that you can live even if you have committed a capital offense.”

After visiting this women, Cha Deoksun illegally crossed the border between China and North Korea in search of an uncle that lived in China.  Instead of finding her uncle, who had died before she arrived, Cha Deoksun found Seotap Church and was deeply moved by the gospel message. According to the propaganda video, she became a fanatical believer who was inspired to return to North Korea and form an underground network of believers inside of North Korea.

Seotap Church

Seotap Church in China

When she first returned to North Korea, however, Cha Deoksun turned herself in to the authorities. According to the video, the authorities were lenient and released her. Instead of praising the government, however, Cha Deoksun praised the Lord.

Due to her poverty, Cha Deoksun was given permission by the government to travel between towns in North Korea to provide for herself. During her travels, Cha Deoksun went out of her way to evangelize others. According to the video, she gave money to people who were poor, lower class, or suffering. She also found the descendants of several prominent Korean Christians and worshipped together with them. The video claims that these groups of underground Christians gathered every Sunday to worship, pray, sing hymns, and study the scripture—even during the busiest farming season.

The household where Cha Deoksun worshiped

The North Korea home where Cha Deoksun and other underground believers worshiped every week

Cha Deoksun and others worshiping in the woods

Cha Deoksun and other underground believers worshiping in an NK forest

Of course, this isn’t the way the propaganda describes Cha Deoksun. The video describes her as a spy seeking to recruit other spies. This is the typical definition of evangelism used in NK propaganda.

Eventually, Cha Deoksun was reported by “a good and awakened North Korean citizen.”

The inclusion of Cha Deoksun in the government training video is a reminder of the truth of Romans 8:28—that all things work together for good for those who love the Lord and are called according to his purpose.

The goal of Voice of the Martyrs Korea is to keep the voices of the martyrs from falling silent. The story of Cha Deoksun shows that God uses even anti-religion training videos to ensure that the stories, memories, and words of the Lord’s beloved martyrs are not lost but are instead preserved and spread through the very state that intended to destroy them.

NK govt anti religion training video shows Christian materials

Christian materials shown in an NK government anti-religion training video

You can also learn more about the North Korean underground church by reading the book, These Are the Generations, which I was privileged to write with third generation underground North Korean Christians.


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