Saturday, April 4, 2009

NORTH KOREA WATCH:Ministry a laser beam of light in dark corner

North Korea (ODM/MNN)Do you ever wonder if anyone is making a difference in the darkness of North Korea? Open Doors is. They're planting seeds of hope in a country that is widely recognized as the world's worst persecutor of Christians.This is happening not only in North Korea but with persecuted believers around the world.About 40 North Korean women regularly receive Bible study training, child education fees, and living expenses in one Open Doors project.
"Our greatest reward is to see their lives change through a stronger faith in our Lord and to see them become devoted mothers and wives," says an Open Doors co-worker.One North Korean believer wrote: "We will do our very best to spread God's Gospel in North Korea. Thank you so much for your continuous support and care."According to Open Doors ministry statistics for 2008 released today, training in North Korea increased more than in any other country.Training Christians in the Word increased from 440 in 2007 to 4,212 in 2008 in the country ranked No. 1 on Open Doors' World Watch List of 50 countries where Christians suffer the most severe persecution.North Korea also had more people receiving social-economic assistance than any of the 45 countries where Open Doors ministers to the persecuted. According to Open Doors statistics, 54,330 North Koreans were helped in 2008, which was a 42 percent increase over 2007."We give thanks to our Lord for enabling Open Doors to increase the number of pastors and church leaders trained in the Word in 2008, and also the increase in the number of people helped through our social-economic programs," says Open Doors USA President/CEO Dr. Carl Moeller."Also, Open Doors continued its delivery of Bibles and Christian materials-almost 4 million-to believers around the world. Open Doors is truly making an impact for His kingdom. All this would not be possible without the support and partnership of thousands of individuals and churches who share our passion for the persecuted."Worldwide, 3.9 million pieces of literature were delivered in 2008. They included Bibles, children's Bibles and materials, study Bibles, New Testaments, Gospels, training materials and other types of literature to strengthen Christians. Literature deliveries increased by 74 percent in Central Asia, 51 percent in Vietnam, 28 percent in the Middle East, 25 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and 22 percent in Egypt.After receiving a children's Bible, Daniel Abba, 13, of Nigeria, said: "This is the greatest gift of my life. It contains life; it has an answer to all my needs. It will teach me how to be free from sin. I can use it to help others who are walking toward destruction."More than 114,400 Christian leaders were trained in programs that varied from intensive, on-going theological training courses to shorter seminars designed to teach and encourage persecuted Christians. Worldwide, Open Doors training increased six percent. In addition to North Korea, training increased significantly in India (79 percent) as persecution there increased.Open Doors sponsors many Standing Strong Through The Storm (SSTS) seminars in India each year as well as in many other countries. At SSTS seminars, participants learn about what the Bibles says about persecution. Also, the participants are encouraged in the faith, and trainers let them know believers in the West are praying for them.Mary Patmajhi, 17, attended an Open Doors-sponsored SSTS seminar for women in Gopalpur,Orissa, after the August 2008 violence. She is a student who wants to study but is unable to do so because of aftermath of the violence. "I really want to study and be something for the Lord.The Open Doors seminar that I have attended has given me hope and encouragement.The exhortation that we as young people received during the seminar, to give ourselves to the Lord and the community, makes me want to serve the Lord by becoming a person of influence for Him," she said.More than 206,500 individuals around the world benefited from Open Doors' social-economic development programs in 2008, a 37 percent increase from 2007. In addition to North Korea, there were large increases in aid in the Middle East (465 percent), sub-Saharan Africa (136 percent) and Southeast Asia (40 percent). Also, social-economic support increased in India from 35 persecuted Christians helped in 2007 to 23,464 in 2008; mostly due to the violence against Christians in the state of Orissa.In China, there was almost no social-economic outreach in 2007. But after the Sichuan earthquake last May, Open Doors partnered with churches to help more than 3,860 individuals.One example of Christian community development outreach is a center in Iraq which provides the Christian community with vocational training (in English and computers), a bookshop and library. Due to violence in the country, some of the other centers established were forced to close.

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