North Korea entered a new year, and a second, much expected summit between Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un is around the corner. We are thankful that the US, South Korea and North Korea have started talking again. War is much less of an immediate threat than it was a year ago.
That does not give us reason to stop working and praying on behalf of the people of North Korea. The negotiations may have stopped nuclear tests for now, but according to US intelligence, North Korea continues to expand their existing nuclear arsenal. If negotiations are to break down, the situation will be as precarious as it was last year. Prayers for Godly wisdom, courage and a real desire for peace are needed for those involved in negotiations.
But other concerns remain. One is the problem of shortage. A few days ago, a report from the North Korean government mentioned considerable food shortages for 2019 and fresh rations cuts. Up until the summer, rations will be cut by almost half. Estimates are that 41% of the population is malnourished already. According to the report, the food shortage is partly due to extreme weather, and partly due to sanctions.
These sanctions, as well as the US visa stop, have also interrupted humanitarian work done by foreign Christians in the area of agricultural development and medical support. Our Chinese BTJ workers are still able to do small scale business projects in North Korea, which support agriculture and the trade that many North Koreans depend on as government rations fall. Please pray with us for this work, as well as for the bigger changes that are needed to end food insecurity in North Korea.
Lastly, nothing tangible has improved in the area of religious and political freedom. The church grows, but it is still under enormous pressure. Countless believers are still in camps and having a Bible is still a crime. Our workers continue to support the North Korean underground believers with Bibles and other Christian resources, in a format that reduces the risk of discovery. They also support the church in evangelism and discipleship. As believers from a country with religious persecution, they can understand the local believers, and as they minister there, they share in their risks and challenges.
The believers of North Korea and China know what it means to ‘offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God’ (Romans 12:1). May their lives be the seed that grows the church and bring blessing and peace to the people of North Korea.