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Thanksgiving in North Korea

North Korea

Few Bibles
The man hiked to a place some distance from his home. He walked as quietly as possible to a secret spot on the ground that he knew well. After looking around to see if any strangers were watching, he knelt down in the dirt. He gently lifted a piece of sod out of a hidden hole in the ground. He brushed away leaves, then carefully removed a sack. Now he could read the Bible inside the sack.

Most Christians around the world do not have to go to so much trouble to have their devotions. But the Christian hiking in the woods lives in North Korea. People who own a Bible in his country can go to jail for years. The government punishes people for following Jesus.

Few Worship Services
“We can’t meet on Sundays,” said a North Korean Christian. “We only meet once or twice a month.”

Christians meet together in secret. If more than three people gather at a home, suspicious neighbors might report them to the police. Thankfully, Jesus promised, “For where two or three are gathered in my name, I am there in their midst” (Matthew 18:20).

The Christians sing hymns together very softly so the neighbors will not hear. One elderly Christian had a special hymnbook. Her father gave it to her many years before. In the past, people in North Korea remembered the Christian teachings that missionaries brought to the land. “I am going to heaven,” the father said to his daughter. “Keep this book and we will meet together in heaven.” She kept the hymnbook for 60 years; then she gave it to another Christian.

Last November, Elizabeth, a North Korean Christian, joined with a few other believers for a worship service. She noticed one child in the group whose shoe was torn open. His foot was frozen. His family did not have enough money to buy new shoes.

The house had no heat. Sometimes the family skipped meals for many days in a row because they had no money for food. “The food problem is worse this year,” a North Korean Christian said. “And it was really bad last year.” Bad weather has destroyed food crops in North Korea. Also, government leaders do a poor job of getting food to those who need it. Many people are poor, hungry, and sick.

It is difficult for sick people to get medicine in North Korea. Soap, toothpaste, and other items that help keep people healthy are also scarce.

You might expect the Christians in North Korea to be sad about all their problems. But this group of Christians had gathered for a Thanksgiving celebration!

Elizabeth sang a hymn for the group. “The room was full of thanksgiving and the grace of God,” said one Christian.

“We have nothing to give to God except our hearts,” the Christians said.

Their Thanksgiving celebration had no turkey and dressing, no fruit and vegetables, and no pumpkin or apple pie. But Elizabeth said,

“Our hope is not more food, but to go to a church and worship in freedom.” Please remember the thankful North Korean Christians when you thank God for your own blessings.

“Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body” (Hebrews 13:3).


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