May 1, 2020
Today we are facing an incomprehensible situation in which we miss people and people are afraid of other people. Though we have feet, we cannot walk freely. We may have cars, but we cannot go where we need to go. Airplanes still exist, but we cannot go where we should go. All over the world people are isolated. They worry about access to food and medicine. They worry about just how to survive. We are facing a situation that is incomprehensible and unimaginable to this generation. Nevertheless, called to be soldiers of the Kingdom of God, we are convinced that this crisis is an opportunity for reaching out to lost souls, that they will turn to God. Looking back, we are reminded that the power of the Gospel has saved dying souls in far more trying situations than this. And, in a variety of situations, the Gospel has been expanding because God is alive.
CMI missionaries and local workers have not been harmed by the COVID 19 to date. However, some missionaries are unable to return to their mission fields. They must rely on phone and Internet to maintain contact with field workers. Some missionaries in the field have been self-quarantining at home and going through difficult times with work and family. Of particular concern are some missionaries in the field beset with medical problems. In one city in China where our local worker lives the entire city is locked down since many pandemics-impacted people from Russia are there. No one is allowed to leave his apartment.
We heard that schools may begin to open at the end of April in China. Each school is supplied with disinfectant and alcohol so that teachers and students can use it. Some schools have set up quarantine rooms for emergency cases. In order to reduce the number of students in the classroom, many schools are adopting 'small class'. Children of the House of Hope have begun to attend school on April 22, except for elementary school students. In particular, with one of our partner’s help, we were able to send 5,000 masks and distribute them to the House of Hope, the Chinese Church, the orphans, and to underground believers in North Korea. It was not nearly enough, but it showed how much our partners love these hardy, faithful people in the field. In the midst of difficulties, we are delivering the Bible with the Lord's help.
We are preparing to deliver 15,000 North Korean Bibles soon and have delivered 500 Mongolian-language Bibles. These are bibles presenting the Word in classical Mongolian script. At present the border between North Korea and China is blocked. No one can come and go. Yet, God opens the way. By His grace we were able to slip 2,000 mini-SD cards and USBs containing our digital training materials to North Korean underground churches. As North Korea continues to extend school vacations to prevent the spread of Covid19, the demand for computer-based learning is increasing as students spend more time at home. This trend presents an opportunity for us to slip in more digital devices and tools.
The North Korean underground church is overcoming the hindrances imposed by the situation with reliance on strong faith. Blessedly, we have also been able to send funds to cover living expenses and daily necessities to help North Korean underground churches overcome these difficult times. As well, we have also sent ingredients to make and distribute bread to hungry orphans in North Korea.
North Korean Pastor's Request for Help
Recently, I have received a communication from North Korea through one of our field missionaries. Herein I am sharing a part of the letter for prayer. “Have you been well? How are you during the corona epidemic? Even here, the situation is very very difficult because of the Covid19 pandemic. It is hard for me and others to live. If you assist us at this time, it will be a great help to us in maintaining our faith. I wasn't going to ask you to do this, but please think carefully because I'm seriously contacting you.” The following day, a field missionary sent me another communication. It is a copy of his communication. "Good morning. It's very difficult here. Prices of oil, flavor, soap, and flour have gone up so much, and daily necessities have also gone up in price, since we could not trade with China. I have had a hard time, but others are worse-off. Also, the medicine that used to come from China has stopped and we are having trouble because there is no medicine. Everything is so expensive, so we can't think of buying anything. We can go through this difficult time with around CNY15,000. I would be grateful if you could help us. Sorry."
When I received this dire communication, I could not help my tears flowing down my cheeks as I felt the pain of this underground leader who cares so much about the basic welfare of his flock of believers. Not only are they being persecuted for their faith, they face death by starvation because the government does nothing to provide food. In his communication seeking help, he not only refers to his family and himself, but to all of the members of his underground church. Please pray earnestly that their needs are met. There are over 1,800 underground churches in North Korea.
Rescuing an underground church leader
It is by God's grace that these ministries are carried out in even these most difficult situations. We are together God's people for whom the victory has already been won. We know that the present dire situation will soon to pass, and that we shall come forth as gold after going through the fiery purification process of God's test. At this time also we are trying to rescue an underground church leader, who was arrested by the North Korean authorities eight years ago. Often when a person in North Korea is sent to political prison for being a Christian, his or her family then has no further word concerning his whereabouts. His or her very identity is simply lost. It recalls a defining characteristic of persecution in 1930s Nazi Germany: nacht und nebel (“night and fog”). It took us eight years but we finally found the prison in which that church leader is incarcerated. We then began our rescue campaign. We believe that this rescue can succeed only with God's help. Please pray for the success of this rescue operation as well as for her family.
You may visit www.cornerstoneusa.org for “Today’s Prayer. We have been updating on regular basis.
Pray for the reopening of the delivery route to China and North Korea, which has been blocked by anti-Covid19 measures. Pray that the ministry of bible delivery and digital training material delivery will continue.
Pray that the North Korea / China border will soon reopen, so that underground believers can travel to China and continue to be trained as underground church leaders and church planters.
North Korea's food shortages begin every spring due to the Communist government’s agricultural mismanagement. To make matters worse, COVID19 infection is spreading. It is said that North Koreans are standing at the crossroads of 'I die of starvation' or 'I die of plague'. Pray that God will give North Koreans the food they need and let them be protected. May they meet God who is their one sure refuge in their hour of trouble.
Pray that the ministers transiting in and out of North Korea will not be overwhelmed by persecution and by fear of Covid19 infection. Pray that they will preach Good News strongly and courageously to the 23 million people struggling under atheist totalitarianism in North Korea.
Pray for the peace of God to reign in North Korea with new leadership and the opening of the country to worship God freely. Thank you for praying as a partner of faith, and we both pray that God's blessings will be with you.
Isaac and Peter,
Your brothers in Christ