Look for the Cross
Posted by faithandthelaw on May 26, 2010
It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1
There was a compelling article in National Geographic last year that recently came to my attention. It is about the plight of North Korean defectors attempting to escape from the brutal regime and the Christian missionaries who come to their aid. (Don’t miss the haunting photographs that accompany the story).
One girl, only 15 and alone when she escaped across the Tumen River, fled because she felt she was a burden to her impoverished family and because she did not want to take a job that required her to read the propaganda of “Dear Leader” over the town loudspeaker. One man who was converted to Christianity through his experience escaping from North Korea insists that he wants to return to his homeland one day to share the gospel, even though he could be shot for even carrying a Bible into the country. He says, “When I read about street demonstrations in Seoul, I get so happy. If I did that in North Korea, I would be sent to prison.”
Sometimes, as Americans, it is easy for us to forget about or grow indifferent to the shocking loss of basic freedoms that millions of people endure around the world. And as Christians, it is easy for us to take for granted the freedom we have in this country, and fail to take measures to protect it. But as I’ve noted in a previous post, Thomas Jefferson was right when he said that “eternal vigilance is the price of liberty.”
One part of the story had a powerful impact on me. Once North Koreans make it across the border into China, they are in danger of being arrested by Chinese police and sent back to their country, where they will face a 3-5 year sentence in a labor camp. (If it is discovered that they were trying to escape to South Korea, they are charged with treason and are starved, tortured and sometimes publicly executed.) But the words whispered among defectors who have safely made it across the border into China are “head for a cross.” It is known that churches will shelter and feed North Korean refugees, and often can connect them with Christian missionaries who risk their lives leading groups of North Koreans along the “Asian underground railroad,” a dangerous journey through China and Southeast Asia to freedom.
In this country, we should learn from the example of these Chinese churches, their witness, and their bravery, though they lack religious freedom. Christians here should also stand for—and defend—freedom. Our churches and ministries should strive to be a beacon of hope on our campuses, in our communities, and ultimately, in our country. I pray that those who seek freedom here—whether it be freedom from censorship, oppression, cruelty, suffering, or sin—would also be able to find it by looking for the Cross.