Good practical advice from Open Door’s Jan Vermeer on praying for North Korea and Christians in the persecuted world:
The apostle Paul also taught me valuable lessons about how to pray for North Korean Christians. His prayers are legendary. He prays so differently than us. We are used to pray for suffering to end, prisons to open and regimes to fall. Paul says in 2 Thessalonians 1:11: “To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power….12….so that the name of our Lord Jesus may be glorified in you, and you in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.”What is the calling of this church? Paul says so in verse 5, that the Thessalonians suffer for His Kingdom. This teaches me that when we do intercession for other believers we need not only identify with the person you pray for, but especially with God. What is He after in this circumstance? How will He use it to His glory? This truth may radically change the way we pray for persecuted Christians and other believers. We don’t know the names of the Christians in North Korea. But we can ask God to fulfil His plan and make people worthy of their calling.
Another lesson may be even more difficult. We should spend more time in prayer for Kim Jong-Un, the regime, the police, the spies, the prison guards and others responsible for persecution. Jesus clearly commands us to pray for our enemies and to bless those who persecute us. Bless the person who tortures your brother. Is there anything more difficult? I don’t know, but Jesus asks us to bless them in prayer. Pray that God will call them to saving faith.
I wondered about the word “bless”. It is certainly what it says on the tin. We are to ask God to bless them and not wish them ill. This is pretty difficult and would appear to go beyond merely calling for them to come to repentance in Jesus Christ, arguably the greatest blessing, but not the only blessing!
To “bless” Kim Jong-Un requires a realisation that we are Kim Jong-Un. Deep down our hearts we are no different from those who commit the worst atrocities and persecute their own people. It is only by the grace of God that we ourselves have not done the crimes that fill us with disgust when we read about them on television. But our evil nature is all the same. We are wicked people. Indeed without other restraints we too are just as capable of those very sins. Only the Lord knows whether being in Kim Jong-Un's shoes we would not have been capable of the same. It is only by grace we are children of God!
Blessing Kim Jong-Un is also only possible when we increasingly recognise that at one level he is also a victim. The Bible affirms both his moral culpability and his helplessness. King Solomon made this point clearly when he observed, "the iniquities of the wicked ensnare him, and he is held fast in the cords of his sin" (Proverbs 5:22). The tyrant and oppressive dictators are victims of their own actions and in every way are unable to break free even if they want to. Yes they are responsible for their sins, but they are also imprisoned by their actions. This should fill us with sorrow for Kim Jong-Un not least because we know from our own addictions that freedom from the sins that easily entangles us is only possible through God's sovereign work of grace! What is true for us is true for Kim Jong-Un.
Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2013
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