By BosNewsLife Asia Service with additional reporting by BosNewsLife’s Stefan J. Bos
PYONGYANG/SEOUL/WASHINGTON (BosNewsLife)– North Korean Christians appealed for prayers as Pyongyang warned foreign embassies to leave by April 10 after moving medium range missiles to its east coast, raising fears of imminent war.
“We are to meet the decisive battle with a gun in one hand and a hammer in the other,” said a Christian leader in a message published by Open Doors, an advocacy and aid group working in the Stalinist-run nation.
“The military army, navy, air force troops, strategic rocket troops, the red guards and the red youth guards are already in combat mode. Urgent meetings are being held everywhere, regardless if it is day or night,” the leader said, speaking on condition of anonymity in comments monitored by BosNewsLife Friday, April 5.
“At those meetings, officials make decisions on what needs to happen in case war breaks out and everyone, including women, needs to be combat ready,” the leader added about an order North Koreans recently received from what the Christian called the “high command.”
Britain tried to calm down tensions saying was “no immediate” plan to shut its embassy in North Korea.
The significance of next April 10 remained unclear, but observers said was mentioned as a date for the possible closure of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a facility inside the North where South Korean companies employ 53,000 people.
The United States said Friday, April 5, it was taking the threats seriously. The U.S. would “not be surprised” if North Korea launched a missile, said White House spokesman Jay Carney.
In statements seen by BosNewsLife North Korean church leaders said they were “asking Christians worldwide to pray” for their country amid the increased war threats and combat preparation by North Korean military officials.
North Korean Christians were believed to pray secretly Friday, April 7, including at least some 100,000 Christians trapped in the country’s feared prison camps, where they reportedly face torture, forced labor and possible execution.
Most are said to have been detained for refusing to worship North Korea’s founder Kim Il-Sung’s cult.
Despite the hardship, there are at least 400,000 devoted North Korean Christians, according to Open Doors, with many praying war can be avoided.
In the United States, evangelist Franklin Graham expressed his concern, calling the tension on the Korean peninsula “very dangerous.”
Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, already sparked a regional crisis by testing a nuclear weapon and then revoking the armistice with South Korea and threatening immediate attack.
“Pray for our president, that God would give him wisdom,” Graham said.
“I believe this could be the greatest crisis he could face in his presidency,” added Graham, who visited North Korea, delivering resources to help overcome food shortages through his international relief organization, Samaritan’s Purse.
DANGEROUS REAL ESTATE
“This is the most dangerous real estate in the world. Somebody could shoot a gun by accident across the [De-Militarized Zone] and start a war,” Graham said.
Franklin’s father, Billy Graham, visited the nation in 1992 and 1994, and his mother, Ruth Bell Graham, returned in 1997 after attending high school in Pyongyang in the 1930s.
“Like everywhere else in the world, we saw a spiritual hunger and emptiness among many people in North Korea—a hunger that can only be filled by God Himself,” Graham said after visit.
“Their greatest need is Christ. We know God’s heart of compassion, ‘not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance’,” he added, referring to Bible verse 2 Peter 3:9.
“God loves the people of this nation as much as He loves you or me. Please pray with us that God would open doors to reach lost souls in lands that seem so inaccessible to the Gospel,” the evangelist stressed.
The country has top ranking on the World Watch List of Open Doors of 50 countries with what the group calls “the worst persecution of Christians.”
(BosNewsLife, the first truly independent news agency covering persecuted Christians, is ‘Breaking the News for Compassionate Professionals’ since 2004).