Last week we saw Yuna Kim’s Catholic faith fearless on the world stage.
This week, a research organization has once again named North Korea as “the worst country in the world for Christians.”
If you didn’t know the drama: North Korea and South Korea (where Miss Kim calls home) share the same border. They are one country divided by bombs and barbed wire. They are now neighbors, each with soldiers staring down the other side, fingers on their triggers — just waiting. It’s been this way since the end of the Korean conflict in the 1950s. And the South’s capital — Seoul — is only 120 miles from the North’s: Pyongyang. That’s right, those two cities are closer together than Detroit is to Chicago.
Many of us know that North Korea is probably the worst country in the world for anyone, but the paradox here is jarring. Let me help you see it: Christians are forbidden on the north side, and on the south side are Christians free and flourishing. North: Christians are hunted and sent to prison camps. South: Christians are winning Olympic gold medals. And South Korea is home to probably the fastest growing Catholic community in the world.
Zooming out, here’s the big picture:
The map details the 50 nations openly hostile to faithful Christians (I say faithful because a Christian in-name-only is no Christian at all, and I say openly hostile because there are plenty of regimes and nations that persecute us indirectly and in secret.). From my own ethnic background, I see Vietnam at #18, and China at #37. You can click on the map to download the full report, or here to see country by country profiles of persecution.
So please, remember that “often completely unaddressed in the West is the fact that Christians are the largest persecuted minority in the world.” We — faithful Christians — always have been the most persecuted, and always will be. Why? And why so many?
Why? Because Jesus is offensive. He tells us we must become perfect. He tells us we must sacrifice. He tells us we must not lust. He tells us we must carry a cross just like He did. In a world that says individualism and license-to-do-anything-without-consequence is supreme, He tells us we must be less us and more Him. And He tells us that this world is not our home, that we are made for better, and the world is insulted by that. The world does not want us to be better than it. It wants us to worship it, to die with it, sleep with it and rot with it.
And why so many? Because committed Christians are among the most convinced of their Faith. Nobody dies for what they know is a lie, or for a hobby, or a social club, or a free time fellowship. But if what they believe is True… and if they are convinced, convinced absolutely by reason and faith that Jesus rose from the dead, if so! then there is no force in the universe that can sway them to admit that the Truth is a hoax. They would die and disown the world rather than lie and disown Christ.
And those Christians among us who refuse the world?
What else should we expect from the world that even dared to butcher God Himself?
So the persecution will continue, and probably worsen. And that’s when the courageous and faithful Christians rise. And some have already rose. They live and died in those hostile and forbidden nations. They are more renown in Heaven than we are. They are the saints and martyrs.
May those saints pray for us Christians who are too busy being comfortable to seek greatness.
P.S. It is in honor of these persecuted Christians that I named my publishing entity Banned Books Press. And the most banned book of all: the Holy Bible.