In photo: Women in Chongjin, northern region of North Korea

North Korea still has not reported any cases of people being affected by COVID-19, although according to one report almost 200 soldiers died after showing symptoms similar to those who suffer from the coronavirus. In the meantime, the country is stepping up its preventive measures. Open Doors, a ministry helping persecuted Christians in North Korea and other countries, fears that the lives of many North Korean citizens are at stake. 

“The health care system in the country is almost non-existent,” a leader of Open Doors’ North Korea team says. He works with North Korean refugees in China and cannot give his name for security reasons. “Hospitals are barely functioning, there are few doctors and there’s a huge shortage of medicines. People who are sick buy unlabeled medicines on the black market from people who don’t have a medical background.”

According to the spokesperson, many North Koreans have a weak immune system. “Most people have gone through periods of severe malnourishment. A virus epidemic would be disastrous for them. Even in highly developed countries the health care system is under tremendous pressure. North Korea doesn’t have the means to help its citizens if there is a major outbreak.”

Open Doors has secret channels to give food and medicines to North Korean Christians. This help is crucial for surviving, according to a secret believer. “Every household suffers food shortages,” he says. “First we had a drought in Spring, then strong storms and rains during Summer. Our country also has to deal with international sanctions. The harvest was already bad and now citizens have to provide food for the military first. There aren’t enough rations left for Winter and for the Spring time.”

The situation is so grave that citizens call Spring the ‘poverty season’. “We are so grateful that you don’t forget us in your prayers,” the secret Christian continues. “We have a saying that a house costs 800 gold pieces, but a good neighbor is worth a 1,000 gold pieces. However, what you do for us, is worth more than 10,000 gold pieces. We are so thankful that God has made you our brother or our sister.”

Your support is incredibly important to feed thousands of men, women and children, and keep the Church alive. Your prayers can help them stand strong – in the face of extreme persecution and the new increased risk to their lives from the Coronavirus.

Will you prayerfully consider giving a donation today to support secret believers living in places like North Korea?

Your long-term support and prayers will strengthen and give courage to secret believers like Sang-Hwa* who are facing extreme persecution.

Every PHP4,800 could provide a winter relief pack to help a North Korean family survive for a year. This could include food, medicines, winter clothes, boots, and blankets. 

Your support is vital to help grow the faith of ordinary Christians who live in the most dangerous places on Earth: North Korea and the World Watch List Top Ten.

*Name changed for security reasons