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A new campaign by the evangelical group Voice of the Martyrs is encouraging Christians to confess their Christian faith to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.
The petition campaign was inspired by a “letter of confession” by John Short, a 75-year-old Australian missionary who was detained in February by North Korean authorities for distributing religious material. The condition of his release was to issue a “confession and apology” scripted by authorities. The letter read: “I realize that my actions are an indelible hostile act against the independent right and laws of the (North). I request forgiveness … and am willing to bow down on my knees.”
VOM spokesman Todd Nettleton said Short’s “confession” proves North Korea is interested in Western public opinion.
“They do care about what others, especially the United States, believe about North Korea,” Nettleton said.
“So we started wondering what we would say if we were required to confess our faith to North Korea,” Nettleton said.
Nettleton said Christians in the West don’t “have a gun to their heads,” but the letter is one way that they “can choose to take a stand.”
The letter concludes: “I confess that I will pray for you, Mr. Kim Jong Un, for your repentance and salvation, and for the softening of your heart toward your nation’s citizens. I will pray that the evil perpetrated by you and your government, in seeking to spiritually enslave your nation’s people, will cease to exist.”
The VOM goal, Nettleton said, “is to get at least 1 million signatures and letters signed.”
He added that there is a humanitarian objective behind the VOM campaign.
“Ultimately, we want to deliver these letters to the North Korean representative to the United Nations and to generate press coverage,” he said.
“I believe if we tell enough people and enough people ‘confess’ to Kim Jong-Un that we know and will do what we can to spread the word, then we can get a statement that will then in turn fuel the story worldwide,” Nettleton said.
The letter on the VOM website reads:
I am a Christian. I believe in the one supreme God and in salvation only through His Son, Jesus, who died on the cross for my sins and for the sins of all who confess Him and place their trust in Him.
I am aware of the treatment of Christians in your nation. I am aware that Christians are tortured, imprisoned and even executed simply for confessing their belief in God and His Son, Jesus Christ, and for their willingness to share their faith with others, even though your nation’s constitution guarantees freedom of religious choice.
I am aware that the ideology of your nation, called Juche, was modeled after the Holy Bible, distorted and forced upon your nation’s citizens. I am aware that the three Persons of the Triune God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) of the Bible have been replaced in your ideology with your own family members as the only “supreme leaders.”
I am aware that when citizens of your nation act in any way to threaten the stability of your nation’s ideology and your own “supremacy,” they, along with their immediate family members, face an average 15-year sentence in one of your many concentration camps. I am aware that hundreds of thousands of such individuals have been imprisoned in these camps, enduring “unspeakable atrocities,” and that few have emerged alive.
In the knowledge of the above, I confess that I will do everything in my power to make the truth of the realities of your nation known to the free world. I will do everything in my power to support those who courageously choose to follow Christ and be His witnesses in the face of such persecution and even death.
I will do everything in my power to ensure that the saving message of the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ reaches the citizens of your nation. I will pray that your nation’s citizens will be freed from the spiritual bondage that is forced upon them.
I confess that I will pray for you, Mr. Kim Jong Un, for your repentance and salvation, and for the softening of your heart toward your nation’s citizens. I will pray that the evil perpetrated by you and your government, in seeking to spiritually enslave your nation’s people, will cease to exist.
Douglas Riggs, an international human-rights analyst and pastor of Morning Star Church in Syracuse, New York, believes there are more than 30,000 imprisoned Christians in North Korea.
He likes the letter campaign.
“Any effort to raise awareness of the severe barbaric conditions which all political dissidents are suffering is commendable. The North Korean ruling elite represents the most oppressive regime in the world,” Riggs said.
WND reported in January that North Korea again topped the list of the worst persecutors of Christians compiled by Open Doors.
Open Doors Communications Director Emily Fuentes said North Korea is like no other country in the world.
“North Korea remains the most difficult country in the world to be a Christian, because it’s an act that is punishable there by death or life in prison,” Fuentes said.
The Open Doors report said that the North Korean government likely detains at least 70,000 Christians in concentration camps.
The 70,000 figure is consistent with earlier reports.
WND reported in July 2012 that Christian human rights group International Christian Concern Asia analyst Ryan Morgan said that hopes for an easing of anti-Christian repression under Kim Jong-Un were not materializing.
“We have not heard any reports of improvement for Christians in the country and have no reason to believe anything has changed,” Morgan said.
Republican Rep. Jim Bridenstine, who represents the district where VOM’s Bartlesville, Okla., headquarters is located, supports VOM’s mission and knows first-hand, because of his Navy experience, that North Korea is one of the most oppressive countries in the world.
Bridenstine spokeswoman Sheryl Kaufman said the congressman “appreciates the work of Voice of the Martyrs around the world in serving the persecuted church.”
“Learning about the work of VOM and hearing stories of the people they have helped has been one of his most moving experiences as a member of Congress. The congressman and his staff consider it an honor to have VOM headquartered in our district,” Kaufman said.