Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Open Doors: Laos, China (North Korea)


Communist authorities in Laos arrested 10 North Korean refugees and two South Korean activists in late May as they attempted to reach safety in neighboring Thailand, a South Korean newspaper reported on June 9. Lao police arrested the first group, consisting of eight refugees and one activist, on May 31. A second group of two refugees and their activist guide was arrested at around the same time. According to Compass Direct, after almost two weeks of tense negotiations with political officials, the refugees were released into the hands of South Korean embassy staff on Saturday, June 10. When all efforts had failed, a representative of Helping Hands Korea paid a ransom of $500 per person for eight of the refugees; another activist ransomed the other two. The two South Korean activists were identified as Kim Hee-tae and Shin Sang Hwa, both believed to be Christians. The religious background of the 10 North Korean defectors was unknown at press time.
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Please pray:

- The Lord will heal and comfort the refugees, and draw the unbelieving to Himself.

- For the “activists” who risk their own lives and freedom to help the desperate North Korean people.

- That the Lord will move upon the hearts of government officials in these surrounding countries, so they will not harass these refugees, but let them pass through their territories without difficulty.


Rising Tide of Refugees

Leaving North Korea without official permission is a serious crime. Security guards closely question all refugees who are forcibly returned; many are tortured and/or imprisoned. Those who return with a Bible or admit having contact with Christians in China face certain torture and imprisonment, and, in some extreme cases, execution.Despite these risks, hundreds of North Koreans continue to cross the border into China, seeking relief from the brutalities of the regime. Thousands of North Korean refugees are living in China. Without legal citizenship, however, they are constantly at risk of being arrested and sent back home. The Chinese government recently increased the “bounty” payable for turning in a North Korean refugee from 1,000 yuan (US$125) to 3,000 yuan (US$374). According to a Compass source, China forcibly repatriates an average of 500 North Koreans every month, sometimes as many as 200 per week. “The Chinese are extremely serious about ferreting out North Koreans,” he said.

Please pray:

- That these Chinese policies toward North Korean refugees will be abandoned. Ask the Lord to bring pressure upon law makers in China to stop these cruel practices.

- That God will give them grace to see that these actions are dishonorable, and shameful to the people of China.

- Pray for the courage, faith, and powerful witness of these saints in North Korea and China as they bring the light of Christ into the darkness.

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