Today Christians in North Korea suffered a horrible persecution. It is difficult to imagine, but in the early twentieth century in North Korea, there was a great Christian revival. Moreover, Pyongyang was even called “Jerusalem of the East”. What do you know about this story?
Pyongyang, 14 January 1907. A group of Korean Christians and Western missionaries gathered for Bible study in a Church on the outskirts of the city. In the middle of a meeting God began to act in a powerful way.
“They knew that the only way to survive was to trust God,” says pastor of the Church of North Korean JI-Il Bang.
One by one, the people confessed their sins to each other, such as racial prejudice, hatred, anger and envy.
“They knew that with God nothing was impossible, so they cried out to Him for forgiveness,” continued JI-Il Bang.
God answered, and began a spiritual revival. In the following months, thousands of people repented publicly, including elders of churches and foreign missionaries serving in Korea.
“And for this reason they were convinced, the Holy Spirit began his work, which broke out as at Pentecost,” says the son of a missionary to Korea, Samuel Moffett.
So in Pyongyang began the Great awakening.
“In 1907, Pyongyang became known as the “Jerusalem of the East”. Everywhere there were churches that were growing quickly,” continues JI-Il Bang.
The prayers of repentance swept the entire Korean Peninsula. People were traveling hundreds of miles to attend revival meetings.
“The spiritual change was a repentance movement. Believers repented of their sins and were born again,” says pastor Han Hum oak.
The revival lasted 40 years, affecting all sectors of society, including political power.
“Almost all high-ranking North Korean Communists — or rather, the Korean Communists in the forties, thirties, twenties came from a Christian family, with very few exceptions,” says Andrei Lankov, a Professor — orientalist in Seoul (University of Kunmin).
Even the dictator of North Korea Kim Jong-UN is associated with Christianity. His ancestors were active members of Protestant churches.
“In Korea, Christianity was a religion of modernity modernization, progress, science and technology”, — says Andrei Lankov.
But the brutal forty years of Japanese occupation were subjected to these believers, test of faith. According to eyewitness accounts, Christians endured severe persecution. But in the midst of persecution God intervened incredible ways.
“The Japanese forced us to worship the Japanese Emperor. Many of us refused and were imprisoned. Some of them were tortured and killed. But the more the Church was persecuted, the more she grew up,” says JI-Il Bang.
By the end of the forties in Korea were about three thousand churches. The Bible began to read, even illiterate people. Built missionary schools and hospitals.
“This was perhaps the biggest success in the history of Protestant missionaries in East Asia,” says Lankov.
But now the situation in Pyongyang is completely different. Today Christians are constantly tortured, raped, starved and executed.
“This is one of the most repressive against religion regimes ever existed in the world. He’s worse than Stalin’s regime. He is probably as bad as the regime of Mao and probably slightly better than Pol Pot regime,” — says Andrei Lankov.
Korean Christians hold a prayer meeting such as this, and I ask God to reunite them and revived them by the people.
David Yongi Cho, Korean pastor of the biggest Church in the world. For decades he’s been preparing teams of young pastors to share the gospel as soon as the door to the North will open.
“We pray that God has accelerated Its intervention in North Korea,” he says.
Dr. Paul Yonggi Cho and the other leaders called on the global Church this week to remember those who suffer for their faith, and to pray that once again God will bring revival to North Korea.