Category Archives: Religion

RELIGION IN NORTH KOREA

NKOREA-POLITICS-KIM
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un with Young Pioneers (communist youth group that indoctrinates children under age 15 in communist ideology) #northkoreanchristians

North Korea (the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) is the most repressive nation in the world, for Christians. The country is ruled by the Stalinist dictator, Kim Jong-un, and the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).

Catholicism was first introduced to Korea in the 17th century. The first protestant (Presbyterian) missionaries arrived in the late 19th century. Today, 30% of South Koreans are Christian. What are the circumstances for Christians in North Korea today?

Communist regimes are founded upon the philosophy of “scientific atheism.” In North Korea, Christianity is not only seen as the “opiate of the people”; but Christianity is also viewed as alien and evil.

North Korean Christians hide their faith, to avoid arrest and being sent to labor camp. One’s faith is a closely guarded secret, even within families. Parents do not train their children in the Christian faith, to safeguard their families, if the children are questioned. Constant surveillance by the secret police, and their informants, means that many Christians pray with eyes open. Gathering for worship or fellowship is virtually impossible.

Worship of the communist dictators is required of all citizens. Those who do not comply are arrested, imprisoned, tortured, or killed. It is reported that entire Christian families are imprisoned in strict-regime labor camps, where uncounted masses die from torture, beatings, overexertion, and starvation. Those who attempt to flee North Korea risk execution or life imprisonment. It is estimated that 50,000 Christians are currently being held in North Korean gulags (labor camps). Since 1953, it is believed that at least 200,000 Christians have been killed. It has been documented that believers have been: hung on a cross over a fire, crushed under a steamroller, herded off bridges, and trampled underfoot.

North Korea permits only five official Christian churches to function, all located in the Capital, Pyongyang: three Protestant, one Catholic, and one Orthodox. Any show of “religious freedom” is extremely limited, aimed at visitors and foreigners, for propaganda purposes.

It is estimated that 300,000 “secret” Christians remain in North Korea. However, before Communist China opened to the West in the early 1970s, Western experts assumed Christianity had been eliminated by communist repression of religion. Instead, the number of Chinese Christians had grown by leaps and bounds under persecution. Today in China, there are more Christians than members of the Communist Party of China (CPC).

Please remember North Korea in your prayers. Let us pray that God would give strength and encouragement to North Korean Christians, and that the waves of persecution would recede. Let us also pray for the whole nation, which has suffered terribly under Stalinist dictatorship for 70 years. Jesus commanded us to love our enemies. And the Bible also tells us to pray for rulers and those in authority – not just our own leaders, but those of other lands. Let us pray for a peaceful solution to the tensions with North Korea. There is a wonderful example of this: beginning in 1982, Christians worldwide began to pray for the Iron Curtain to be miraculously brought down. That prayer was answered, and the Cold War peacefully resolved in 1989.

About the Author:  Daniel Molyneux made his first trip behind the Iron Curtain in 1983, to aid Christians suffering under communist rule. He subsequently made numerous trips to Russia and the Soviet Republics during: communist rule, the transition, and afterwards. Molyneux is the pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, in Fairfield, California, and is the author of three books.

Mona Lisa of Galilee

This is “The Mona Lisa of Galilee” a 2000-year old floor mosaic, called this because of the artist’s skill in capturing the subject’s beauty. It is located in Sepphoris. During Jesus’ childhood, Sepphoris was Galilee’s capital and largest city. Many mistakenly think Jesus grew up in a tiny rural village. But Nazareth was a suburb or Sepphoris, only three miles away. During Jesus’ childhood, Sepphoris was undergoing a tremendous building project. This is likely one of the main reasons Joseph and Mary moved their family to area. Sepphoris had plenty of employment for Joseph. Joseph and Jesus were not “carpenters,” as has been mistranslated. The correct translation is “builder.” Even the word “mason” would be a more accurate than “carpenter.” The Greek word used in the New Testament for Joseph and Jesus is “tekton”. From it we get our English words “technician” and “architect (meaning head builder)”. There is little wood in Israel, and homes are not built from wood. In Galilee, homes and other buildings were built of stone, such as black basalt. Herod Antipas rebuilt Galilee’s capital, Sepphoris, in Greco-Roman style. It is likely Joseph, and perhaps even Jesus, worked as builders in Sepphoris. Although I have little evidence to back it up, I wonder if Joseph, Jesus, and family, could have specialized in the construction of synagogues. We also have indications of Jesus’ familiarity with theatre in Sepphoris, because he frequently used the Greek word “hypokrites” meaning actor. In Greco-Roman theatre, the actors wore masks, hiding their faces. They were literally two-faced. So, when Jesus called the Pharisees hypocrites, he was calling them actors, hiding their true selves behind a false façade.Mona LIsa (2)

WHAT IS THE BESTSELLING BOOK IN RUSSIA?

Trivia time… What is the bestselling book in Russia since the fall of Communism (besides the Bible)?

We went to Doma Knegy (House of Books bookstore) last week. I bought a book that looked interesting. Turns out it is the bestselling book in Russia since the fall of communism. First Published in 2011, within a year the book had sold more than 1 million hard copies and several million e-book copies.

Everyday Saints and Other Stories by Archimandrite Tikhon (Shevkunov) is the bestselling book in Russia since communism’s fall.

Everyday Saints is a 500 page book written by a Russian Orthodox monk (Archimandrite Tikhon), telling about his conversion to faith in Soviet Russia during the early 1980s while attending film school, his subsequent experiences as a Monk in the Pskov Caves Monastery, and the stores of various monks in the monastery.

It is a fantastic book. I highly recommend it.

Can you imagine a Christian book being the equivalent of “Harry Potter” in the Russian publishing world? This is truly AMAZING.

If you want to learn more about the persecutions of Christians during the Communist era, and about Orthodox spirituality, this is the book for you. It is available in an English translation from Amazon, etc. All proceeds go to build a church in memory of the millions of Christian martyrs killed during Soviet rule.

Daniel Molyneux

Daniel Molyneux’s website: www.angelofa.com

The Angel of Antioch on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Angel-Antioch-Daniel-Molyneux/dp/0692349634

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Everyday Saints

CHURCHES IN SAINT PETERSBURG By Daniel Molyneux

Photos of Saint Isaac’s Cathedral, in Saint Petersburg, taken from our hotel room window.

The story of Kazan Cathedral, on Nevsky Prospect, across from Doma Knegy (House of Books bookstore), is really amazing. Kazan was closed by the communists after the Russian Revolution. In the 1930s the communists turned Kazan into the Museum of Atheism. But Kazan was returned to the Russian Orthodox Church in the 1990s. It is now the Primary Cathedral for Saint Petersburg, and the seat of the bishop for the Eparchy (diocese) of St. Petersburg.

Almost all churches in the Soviet Union were closed under Stalin in the 1930s, and again under Khruchev in the 1950s. (And virtually all priests and pastors were arrested, tortured, sent to the Gulags and/or killed. It is difficult to estimate how many millions of Christians were killed under the communists.) Even in the late 1980s only 20 churches were allowed to legally function in Saint Petersburg, a city of 5 million people.

Today, the number of functioning churches in Russia has multiplied by 10 fold since the fall of communism; and the number of monasteries has grown from only 1 to many 100s, with more churches and monasteries opening every day.

The most recent estimates are that 75% of all Russians now profess faith. In spite of its many problems and issues, Russia today is one of the most religious countries in the world.

Daniel Molyneux

Daniel Molyneux’s website: www.angelofa.com

The Angel of Antioch on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Angel-Antioch-Daniel-Molyneux/dp/0692349634

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Saint Isaac’s Cathedral Saint Petersburg Russia
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Saint Isaac’s Cathedral at night, Saint Petersburg Russia
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Kazan Cathedral, Saint Petersburg Russia

LOVING YOUR NEIGHBORS AND GIVING YOUR LIFE FOR THEM – St. Dimitri Klepinin

The Nazis began the mass arrests of French Jews in 1942. Many Jews came to Father Dimitri Klepinin asking him for baptismal certificates, to avoid being deported and sent to the Nazi death camps. Father Dimitri believed his Christian Faith demanded that he act saying, “I think the good Christ would give me that paper if I were in their place. So I must do it… If a man surprised by a storm takes shelter in a church, do I have the right to close the door?”

In February, 1943 he Father Dimitri was interrogated by a German Gestapo officer named Hoffman.

Hoffman: “If we release you, will you promise never again to aid Jews?”
Father Dimitri: I can say no such thing. I am a Christian, and must act as I must.”
Hoffman: (striking the priest across the face he screamed) “Jew lover! How dare you talk of those pigs as being a Christian duty!”
Father Dmitri: (raising the Cross from around his neck) “Do you know this Jew?”

         Father Dimitri was then sent to a prison camp. He was abused and ridiculed by the guards who shoved him shouting, “Jew! Jew!” In response Dimitri said, “Remember that Jesus Christ had to bear much greater humiliations.” 

A year later, Father Dimitri was sent to the Buchenwald concentration camp, in Germany. His health broken, suffering from pneumonia, he died on February 9, 1944 and his body was burned in the Buchenwald crematorium.

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Saint Dimitri Klepinin

FAILING FORWARD TOWARDS SUCCESS by C. S. Lewis

“We are what we believe we are.”

“You are never too old to set another goal or to dream a new dream.”

“Failures, repeated failures, are finger posts on the road to achievement. One fails forward toward success.”

“There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, ‘All right, then, have it your way.'”

– C. S. LEWIS

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C. S. Lewis on the cover of Time Magazine