North Korea (ODM/MNN) — Do you ever wonder if anyone is
making a difference in the darkness of North Korea? Open Doors is. They're planting seeds of hope in a country
that is widely recognized as the world's worst persecutor of Christians.
This is happening not only in North Korea but with
persecuted believers around the world.
About 40 North Korean women regularly receive Bible study
training, child education fees, and living expenses in one Open Doors project.
"Our greatest reward is to see their lives change through
a stronger faith in our Lord and to see them become devoted mothers and wives,"
says an Open Doors co-worker.
One North Korean believer wrote: "We will do our very
best to spread God's Gospel in North Korea. Thank you so much for your
continuous support and care."
According to Open Doors ministry statistics for 2008
released today, training in North Korea increased more than in any other
country. Training Christians in the Word increased from 440 in 2007 to 4,212 in
2008 in the country ranked No. 1 on Open Doors' World Watch List of 50 countries
where Christians suffer the most severe persecution.
North Korea also had more people receiving
social-economic assistance than any of the 45 countries where Open Doors
ministers to the persecuted. According to Open Doors statistics, 54,330 North
Koreans were helped in 2008, which was a 42 percent increase over 2007.
"We give thanks to our Lord for enabling Open Doors to
increase the number of pastors and church leaders trained in the Word in 2008,
and also the increase in the number of people helped through our
social-economic programs," says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller.
"Also, Open Doors continued its delivery of Bibles and Christian materials –
almost 4 million — to believers around the world. Open Doors is truly making an
impact for His kingdom. All this would not be possible without the support and
partnership of thousands of individuals and churches who share our passion for
Worldwide, 3.9 million pieces of literature were
delivered in 2008. They included Bibles, children's Bibles and materials, study
Bibles, New Testaments, Gospels, training materials and other types of
literature to strengthen Christians. Literature deliveries increased by 74
percent in Central Asia, 51 percent in Vietnam, 28 percent in the Middle East,
25 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and 22 percent in Egypt.
After receiving a children's Bible, Daniel Abba, 13, of
Nigeria, said: "This is the greatest gift of my life. It contains life; it
has an answer to all my needs. It will teach me how to be free from sin. I can
use it to help others who are walking toward destruction."
More than 114,400 Christian leaders were trained in
programs that varied from intensive, on-going theological training courses to
shorter seminars designed to teach and encourage persecuted Christians.
Worldwide, Open Doors training increased six percent. In addition to North
Korea, training increased significantly in India (79 percent) as persecution
Open Doors sponsors many Standing Strong Through The
Storm (SSTS) seminars in India each year as well as in many other
countries. At SSTS seminars, participants learn about what the Bibles says
about persecution. Also, the participants are encouraged in the faith, and
trainers let them know believers in the West are praying for them.
Mary Patmajhi, 17, attended an Open Doors-sponsored SSTS
seminar for women in Gopalpur, Orissa, after the August 2008 violence. She is a
student who wants to study but is unable to do so because of aftermath of the
violence. "I really want to study and be something for the Lord. The Open
Doors seminar that I have attended has given me hope and encouragement. The
exhortation that we as young people received during the seminar, to give
ourselves to the Lord and the community, makes me want to serve the Lord by
becoming a person of influence for Him," she said.
More than 206,500 individuals around the world benefited
from Open Doors' social-economic development programs in 2008, a 37 percent
increase from 2007. In addition to North Korea, there were large increases in
aid in the Middle East (465 percent), sub-Saharan Africa (136 percent) and
Southeast Asia (40 percent). Also, social-economic support increased in India
from 35 persecuted Christians helped in 2007 to 23,464 in 2008; mostly due to
the violence against Christians in the state of Orissa.
In China, there was almost no social-economic outreach in
2007. But after the Sichuan earthquake last May, Open Doors partnered with
churches to help more than 3,860 individuals.
One example of Christian community development outreach is a
center in Iraq which provides the Christian community with vocational training
(in English and computers), a bookshop and library. Due to violence in the
country, some of the other centers established were forced to close.