Bold Believers in North Korea includes stories, history and culture facts, activities, and recipes that help children understand the daily lives of people in a country where citizens are forbidden to practice Christianity. The 54-page book is available free from the Downloads section of this site.
Published on June 17th, 2019
In North Korea, it is against the law to choose to follow Jesus or to own a Bible. A listener on VOMRadio.net asked the following questions.
- In a country like North Korea, how do Christians pray?
- How do they gather together?
- What is a worship service like in North Korea?
Todd Nettleton, host of VOM Radio, asked Rev. Eric Foley to answer the listener’s questions. Rev. Foley is the leader of VOM Korea.
Rev. Foley: A lot of ideas we have about North Koreans hiding under a blanket to read the Bible or sneaking out of their homes at night aren’t exactly accurate. And the reason why is that everyone in North Korea is required to spy on homes that are near their own.
Things like hiding under a blanket or sneaking out of your home would make the neighbors suspicious. So when things like that happen it is usually on the border of North Korea.
North Koreans who are in the interior of North Korea who have been Christians for generations actually worship very differently. They have developed ways of worship that they can do even when people who are not Christians are watching.
One of the ways is that underground [secret] believers pray with their eyes open. They look at the person they are with as if they are having a conversation with that person. And instead of referencing God, for example, they use a phrase like “Dear Leader.” [“Dear Leader” is a title used for the former leader of their country, who is now dead. In this case, Christians are using the title to talk secretly about God.]
So instead of bowing their heads and closing their eyes, they might look at the person sitting next to them and say, “I am so concerned about Sister Kim, who is sick. But I am thankful that our Dear Leader will show special care for her as she needs love and attention.” That would be how underground Christians pray.
The way that they have worship services is on a family level. People in the same family worship together. But people from different families typically do not gather together for worship in North Korea.
(Source: VOMRadio.net. Edited and paraphrased for length and clarity.)
Enter “North Korea” in the Search box on this site to find more stories about North Korean Christians.
What You Can Do Story
Published on June 14th, 2019
Two years ago, in April 2017, Pastor Bakhrom Kholmatov was arrested after officials raided his church in Tajikistan. The officers beat members of the congregation and took away Christian books and the pastor’s computer. You can read his story in a recent kidsofcourage.com post here.
The pastor and his wife, Gulnora, have three children. Gulnora has had health problems since her husband’s arrest, and their daughter has cared for her. Their two sons live in Russia. Please remember and pray for the family on Father’s Day. You can find instructions for sending them an encouraging letter here and on prisoneralert.com.
Read the following reminder from Prisoner Alert below. (You can also find the following on prisoneralert.com: Updates on prisoners, addresses of prisoners, addresses of officials, facts about letters that have been sent, and FAQs.)
The Prisoner Alert for Bakhrom Kholmatov has been viewed more than 17,000 times, and more than 2,500 letters of encouragement have been sent. What a blessing this must have been to Bakhrom Kholmatov — and what a message it will have sent to the officials that this person is cared for internationally.
Now imagine what could happen if we could double, triple, or increase by ten or one hundred-fold the number of people around the world who are praying and writing on behalf of those imprisoned and persecuted for their faith.
You can help. Please tell those you know who have a heart for God’s people, and encourage them to pray, too. It’s the work of friends telling friends that will bring the greatest response to those who need it most.
Published on June 13th, 2019
By Elise Wixtrom, Kids of Courage Student Reviewer
Gladys Aylward was a missionary in China when the Japanese invaded the country during World War II. Like Eric Liddell, she lived in a village that was attacked by air. She and many orphans had to flee in the middle of the night. They made their way to the next city by foot.
Ever since she was very small, Gladys had wanted to be a missionary to China. She knew that she was supposed to bring the gospel to the unreached people there. Although she was sure of her calling, the missionary school she applied to did not think she was qualified to take on work like that.
Even though Gladys was rejected from that school, she began to save money for a train trip from her home in England to China. With no material support, Gladys headed on the long train ride through Europe and Asia. She was armed with nothing but a faith in God and a clear purpose to fulfill.
Though she experienced many setbacks on the way to China, Gladys made it to her destination safely. She and another woman operated an inn, where they ministered to the people of the local town. They had great success, until Gladys’ business partner fell sick and suddenly died, leaving Gladys to take care of the inn by herself. She quickly began to run out of money. Desperate, she prayed for God to grant her a miraculous opportunity. As she was praying, a knock came at the door. It was the mandarin (royal official) of that region, who offered her a job inspecting young women’s feet and making sure that they were healthy. With this newfound job, Gladys soon made enough money to reopen the inn and even take in orphans who she met in her travels.
She was known throughout the region as a powerful woman of faith, one who took in the sick and orphaned, calmed fights and riots, and gave hope in times of trouble. Gladys was widely respected, and her work in rural China touched many lives. However, when the war came, all that she had built was about to crumble. Gladys and the orphans had to run away in the middle of the night. They traveled on foot for many miles, overcome by tiredness and hunger. Afraid of the Japanese planes overhead, they hunkered beneath trees and rocks, and were shot at many times. They eventually made it to safety, and Gladys took in even more refugees who were displaced by the brutal war.
Gladys Aylward never gave up, even when she encountered setbacks and obstacles to her mission. She always trusted that God knew her destiny and that all she had to do was follow His plan for her. With her powerful faith, Gladys persevered through countless difficulties. Though she was weakened by many of the events of her life, she continued to serve God with an undying faith until the day she died.
Learn about the old Chinese custom of foot binding and view photos of the tiny shoes women wore until Gladys unbound their feet.
Published on June 12th, 2019
In Pakistan, Christians are often treated as if they are not as good as other citizens. They may not have a chance to get a good education. And they are often given jobs no one else wants — like making bricks and cleaning sewers.
Several months ago, Vishal, a teenage boy in Pakistan, was reportedly involved in an arm wrestling match with a Muslim boy. Vishal won. The Muslim boy could not accept that a Christian was better than he was at something. “How could a [person] of a dirty community defeat me?” he asked.
They wrestled a few more times, but Vishal won every time. “I will teach him a lesson,” the Muslim boy said.
After the wrestling match, a gang of Muslims caught Vishal and beat him up. After a time, gangs beat him up twice more. But his family was advised to not report the beatings to the police, or they could be in more danger from Muslims who want revenge.
Christians have asked for prayer for Vishal, his family, and churches in Pakistan.
(Sources: VOM Australia and International Christian Concern
Published on June 11th, 2019
Standing with today’s persecuted Christians is central to our mission. But it is also important for us to draw inspiration from those who have gone before us…We have established this date, coinciding with the anniversary of the martyrdom of the Apostle Paul, as an annual day of remembrance called Day of the Christian Martyr. — Cole Richards, President of The Voice of the Martyrs
Your group or class may want to practice and perform the skit below as part of the observance of Day of the Christian Martyr.
In the following skit from the Kids of Courage VBS curriculum, a Christian prisoner recognizes that he is a link in the chain of faithful Christians from the past who have sacrificed for Christ.
Links in the Chain
Several Links in the Chain
Small table and chair
Paper and pen
Several signs with the name of a Christian martyr on one side and the student’s name on the other (see below)
Optional: strips of construction paper, partially completed paper chain, tape
Old torn clothes for Prisoner
Uniform for Prison Official
(The Prison Official is seated at a table. A pen and paper are on the table. The Prisoner is standing by the table.)
Narrator: Several years ago, police locked a Christian in prison in a country where Christians were persecuted. The prison officials asked the prisoner to sign a statement. The statement accused other Christians of breaking the law. If the prisoner signed the statement, the other Christians would be arrested.
Prison Official: Sign this statement! Things will go easier for you if you just do what I say.
Prisoner: The chain keeps me from signing this.
Prison Official: But you are not in chains!
Prisoner: I am. I am bound by the chain of witnesses who gave their lives for Jesus throughout the centuries. I am a link in this chain. I will not break it.
(Prisoner and Prison Official exit.)
(Optional: Provide background music that includes a song about faithfulness to God.)
(Students, Links in the Chain, enter single file and stand in a line across the stage. As students take their places one by one, they recite the name of someone who sacrificed for Christ, and if desired, a phrase about that person’s sacrifice. Each student may hold up a sign with the name of a Christian on it. Examples include: “Stephen, the first martyr for Christ” and “Paul, who said ‘the word of God is not chained.’” Others can include heroes from Christian history and modern persecuted Christians.)
Narrator: The apostle Paul asked his friends to “remember his chains.” We may not be called to die for our faith. But we can be links in the chain by remembering those who are persecuted and by praying for them. We, too, are bound by the chain of witnesses who gave their lives for Jesus throughout the centuries.
Links in the Chain: (speaking one by one) I am a link in the chain. (As they speak, they may turn their signs over, revealing their own names on the back.)
(Optional: The audience can be allowed to respond by coming forward at the end of the skit, lining up, and saying one at a time when recognized, “I am a link in the chain.” If desired, have available a short paper chain made of construction paper and give students strips of paper for each to add to the chain as they say it. A teacher may help by taping the links as they are added.)