October 3, 1990, Revisited?
When President Ronald Reagan strengthened our military after winning the 1980 Presidential election against then President Jimmy Carter, who had terribly downgraded the military from 1977-1981, General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev of the Soviet Union came to realize he could not win an arms race against the United States. Gorbachev began glasnost and perestroika which softened the once hardline stance of the Soviet Union in the Cold War. Reagan’s tough stance, coupled with that of British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and Pope John Paul II, was a strong stand against the Communist regimes of Eastern Europe. All three were strong supporters of those in Poland and Romania who were demonstrating in the streets for freedom from Communist rule. A major catalyst in the dismantling of Communism in Europe was Reagan’s speech on June 12, 1987 at the Brandenburg Gate in West Berlin where he uttered his famous words, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” On November 9, 1989 the Berlin Wall, the ideological and actual impediment against freedom in the Soviet Union and Satellite nations of the USSR came down. In very quick succession Communism, which had ruled with awful tyranny for seventy years in Eastern Europe, unraveled in a matter of months. And on October 3, 1990 Communist East Germany (the German Democratic Republic) and West Germany (the Federal Republic of Germany) were reunited. The prayers of many of God’s people, both in Germany and many other countries of the world, were finally answered by God.
American Presbyterian missionaries traveled to Korea in the 1850’s and met very stiff resistance for a number of years. They persevered and the church began to grow slowly. However, after thirty years of missionary work, by the 1880’s, there were only seventy-four Protestants in the whole country. And as often happens in churches and mission stations around the world, division, lethargy, pride, and strife began to be the order of the day. The word of Christ was largely stymied and the Christian workers were grieved. What should they do? A prayer meeting was called in 1907 in Pyongyang (now the capital of Communist North Korea) and the Holy Spirit came upon the assembly, bringing a deep conviction of sin, resulting in a prolonged time of agony and repentance, causing them to make right the wrongs each had done to one another. Those who had stolen goods returned them. Those who had held grudges confessed and sought reconciliation. The spirit of repentance, of turning from their wicked ways, spread throughout the church in Korea. Unbelievers in huge numbers began to be saved. By 1930 there were 415,000, and by 1955 there were 1,170,000 Christians. Today twenty-nine percent of South Koreans are Christians. And when persecution came in 1910 at the hands of the Japanese, the American Presbyterian missionaries stayed with their Korean brethren, not fleeing to safety, and suffered death with them.
But Communism came to Korea at the end of World War II when the Soviets drove out the Japanese who had occupied Korea since 1910. They placed Kim Il-sung as Chairman of the Communist Party of Korea. As part of carving up the nations after World War II, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel between North and South Korea-the north being communist, and the south being free. Tensions between the countries, whose people were obviously of the same culture, language, and ethnicity, not to mention the vast number of Christians in both countries, escalated. Finally on June 25, 1950 North Korea, backed by Communist China, the Soviet Union, and many other Eastern bloc communist nations crossed the 38th parallel into South Korea. The United States came to the defense of South Korea, along with England, Canada, France, Australia, Turkey, and many other countries. The Korean War, which brought the deaths of 36,574 Americans, 137,899 South Koreans, 350,000 North Koreans, and 183,108 Chinese soldiers, ended in a stalemate on July 27, 1953. Officially, the two nations of North and South Korea are still at war. So for over seventy years this once growing Christian nation has been divided by ideology.
But could it be, my friends, that God is at work behind the scenes in the present geo-political game between President Donald Trump and the North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un? Do we dare believe and pray that God will revisit us with another October 3, 1990? Would God graciously reunite North and South Korea? At this very time, and for many years previously, believers in the north and south have been praying for that very thing. Could this be the time of reunification? Recently Christian politicians in South Korea held a fasting and prayer event in the National Assembly. No doubt the North Korean Christians who have been languishing in prison for years have also been praying for peace and unity. President Moon Jae-in of South Korea and Kim Jung-un met on April 27, announcing that they will set up reunions of families from the north and south which have been divided since the War started in 1950. The two leaders made a joint statement saying, “There will be no more war on the Korean peninsula, and a new age of peace has begun.” We shall see.
Of course, we can never automatically accept anything a murderous dictator says. There must always be a robust and thorough verification of any promises to denuclearize the Korean peninsula. But surely we can pray and hope to this end.
I have long admired the zeal and commitment of our Korean brothers and sisters. They are very generous in the giving of money and personnel for the mission field. I have labored with a number of them from time to time in Africa. Their commitment to prayer is unrivaled.
Will you join me in praying for a mighty movement of God in North Korea which will once and for all topple the Communist regime which has killed and imprisoned millions of people, which now has over six million people in the throes of starvation, which has at least one-third of the North Korean children suffering from chronic malnutrition? In fact the typical North Korean is two inches shorter than his South Korean counterpart due to the malnourishment of their people.
May we never forget the words of the Psalmist, “For the Lord Most High is to be feared, a great king over all the earth. He subdues peoples under us, and nations under our feet,” (Psalm 47:2,3). “But our God is in the heavens. He does as He pleases,” (Psalm 115:3). And may we remember the words of Daniel, “He removes kings and establishes kings,” (Daniel 2:21).
1. The Korean Pentecost and the Sufferings Which Followed, William Blair, Bruce Hunt, Banner of Truth