I’ve been reading Melanie Kirkpatrick’s excellent book Escape from North Korea. There are many notable things about the book from the horrible testimonies of oppression to the inspiring accounts of those who risked everything to escape. But most surprising is Kirkpatrick’s observation that North Koreans are turning to Christianity in droves. Kirkpatrick pinpoints the reason for the attraction of Christianity among North Koreans: “Much of the informal assistance that refugees receive comes from Christians, especially local Chinese. Christians are the only people who seem to care. In a country where helping North Koreans is against the law, there are few others to whom a refugee can turn for protection and support.” (p. 156)
Many North Koreans who have just crossed over into China have little or no knowledge of Christianity. For some their freedom depends upon which door the knock on first. Many Chinese are happy to report refuges to the authorities or worse, make a little money by calling a broker who will sell the women as brides. A knock on the door of a Christian’s house is often the first step towards freedom, not just from the oppression of the Kim family, but also from sin and death.
In I Timothy 3:15 Paul calls the church “the pillar and support of the truth.” In the architecture of the ancient world the job of the pillar was not just to support the roof. It was to make the structure beautiful. Paul is saying here that the church of the living God doesn’t just support the truth but it makes the truth beautiful. To harbor illegal aliens is strictly forbidden in China and could lead to fines and imprisonment if discovered. These Chinese Christians are obeying Paul’s command to make the truth beautiful by their sacrificial compassion for these North Korean refugees.
How can we, the church in the USA, obey Paul’s command to make the beautiful? Are we living in such a way that someone would say, “You should find a Christian and they will help you?” Those Chinese Christians are examples of Christ’s command that His followers be salt and light in the midst of darkness. Clearly God is using their example to bring the lost to Him.
As faith in Christ continues to decline in the West we should take notice of Christians in other parts of the world who are experiencing the power of the gospel in ways that we know almost nothing about. In spite of their lack of obvious talent and resources people are coming to Christ in droves because of their example. We have powerful men and full bank accounts but that can’t compare to the power of one poor Christian peasant in China who makes the truth beautiful by opening his door to protect and feed a foreigner.