In a day and age when there is a top ten list for virtually everything under the sun, not many of us are familiar with such a list for religious persecution. This is because religious persecution, especially against Christians, is not a very politically correct topic in a world that is pushing cultural diversity and "tolerance." As Christians in a culture where entertainment is given more media coverage than the treatment of our fellow believers, it is no wonder that most of us are probably more geared to recite the top ten college football teams or box office hits than the top ten persecutors. Below is a list of the ten worst offenders in the world, according to Open Doors International:
- North Korea
- Saudi Arabia
Not having the space to cover each of these nations where our brothers and sisters in Christ are suffering for their faith, let's spend a little time looking over a nation that is given much media attention for its nuclear program and famines, but very little for its persecution of Christians.
Covered in The Voice of the Martyrs' October '06 newsletter, North Korea, also dubbed as "The Hermit Kingdom," is perhaps the most closed nation to the gospel than any other on the planet. Consequently, countless atrocities have riddled this country since its inception over 50 years ago, when Kim Jong Il's father, Kim Il Sung, began his godless communist legacy. Before World War I, Pyongyang, now the capital of North Korea, was called "Jerusalem of the East," as up to 700,000 Christians lived in North Korea at that time. However, communist rule brought about the execution of hundreds of Christians leaders and the outlaw of Christian education and land ownership. After the common border with South Korea closed, coupled with the ending of the Korean War, only 300,000 Christians were left in North Korea, with most of those remaining being imprisoned or murdered.
Today, more than 100,000 North Korean Christians are incarcerated, tortured and malnourished as political prisoners in concentration camps. But despite this oppressive regime led by Kim Jong Il, at least 10,000 Christians belonging to some 500 underground house churches are secretly practicing their faith. To help breathe God's light into this nation with a leader determined to stamp out any trace of Christianity, The Voice of the Martyrs is active in bringing the gospel to North Korea. Scripture balloons, safe houses, biblical training, and Bible smuggling are just a few ways that VOM is helping the Body of Christ fulfill the Great Commission in this darkened land.