"That's the problem with you American and South Korean Christians," said the first North Korean underground believer I ever met. "You have so much money and so much freedom that you end up putting your faith in your money and your freedom. We North Korean Christians have only Christ, and we have learned that he is sufficient."
Christ did not die for freedom of religion. Christ died for freedom in Christ, which is something that no government can grant and no government can take away.
If we were to ask, "Where is the church growing faster: North Korea, South Korea, or America?", the answer is in North Korea, despite Christian practice being a capital crime.
If we were to ask, "Where are Christians more joyful? North Korea, South Korea, or America?", the answer, based on our 18 years of experience with North Korean underground believers, is in North Korea, despite them facing the full force of arguably the worst persecution in human history for more than 60 years. The North Korean underground Christians we meet are filled with the joy that comes from having only Christ and learning that he is sufficient. The American and South Korean believers we meet are often sad and worried because they don't seem to have enough money or freedom to accomplish what they feel they want or need to do.
Freedom of religion is like any good gift from the Lord: When it is present, we give thanks to the Lord and use it for the Lord's purpose. But we don't idolize or become dependent upon the gift, so when the Lord withdraws it (because even totalitarian governments are his servants, however unwilling), we give thanks to the Lord and use even the lack of freedom for the Lord's purpose.
One North Korean Christian was bribed out of a North Korean concentration camp and moved to house arrest in North Korea, using money given by Christians from around the world. When the Christian was told this, she asked, "Why would they do that? Do they not know that Romans 8:28 works just as well inside a concentration camp as outside of it?"
In nearly 20 years we have never seen a North Korean underground Christian hanging on the words and actions of politicians as if such words could bring life, or as if such actions could make them free. That is why in North Korea today, an estimated 100,000 Christians (30,000 of whom are in concentration camps) are not hiding out, waiting for the current regime to blow over so they can resume their Christian lives. As I wrote about in the book These are the Generations with my North Korean underground Christian co-authors, North Korean Christians remain joyfully faithful to their calling. Today they have only Christ, and they have found that he is sufficient.
SI Moderator - Greg Gordon