Voice of the Martyrs Conference 2023
Some Aussies, some Englishmen, & some Americans walk into a Hotel… Sounds
like the start of a joke, but that’s how Voice of The Martyrs International
conference started, plus about 15 other nations were represented! It was like a
glimpse of heaven, with many Nations tribes & tongues! This is a short article
with some of the highlights from the conference in Korea in October 2023. I
was invited to do some interviews with the guest Speakers and I came across
so many amazing people! I’ve did 24 interviews in total! I’ve met some
amazing people from Canada, NZ, USA, Finland, Poland, Mexico, Somalia,
North & South Korea, Ethiopia, UK, Brazil, Ukraine, China, and more!
Voice of the Martyrs is a ministry is that helps, loves and encourages
persecuted Christians by providing Bibles, ministry resources, medical aid and
practical assistance. Their ministry is inspired by Hebrews 13:3: “Remember the
prisoners as if chained with them – those who are mistreated – since you
yourselves are in the body also.” They also support Christians who are or have
been persecuted for their faith and involvement in spreading the gospel of
Jesus Christ in a hostile environment. They give their testimony a voice,
informing and mobilising Christians to stand with their persecuted brothers
and sisters in Christ.
On our first day, we did a tour of the DMZ, the Demilitarized Zone which is the
long border between North and South Korea. It was an opportunity to learn
more about the Korean War, and the impact that it has had on Korea which
continues to this day. North Korea is a brutally hostile place for Christians. If
discovered by the authorities, believers are either sent to labour camps as
political prisoners where the conditions are atrocious, or killed on the spot –
and their families will share their fate as well.
Christians have absolutely no freedom. It is almost impossible for believers to
gather or meet to worship. Those who dare to meet must do so in utmost
secrecy – and at enormous risk. A report issued in 2022 said that Christians are
particularly targeted and exposed to torture in North Korean prisons.
Detention periods and interrogations are longer and more intense. The reason
for such extreme persecution is that Christianity is seen as a particular threat
to the dictatorial ideology and governance of the country’s barbaric regime.
Christians are viewed as enemies of both the leadership and society in general.
Please pray for persecuted believers in North Korea!
Children in North Korea have to memorize 100 stories about Kim Il Sung & give
speeches about him. He’s the hero of every North Korean story. North Korean
defectors have a high suicide rate, approximately 16%. I met one man who’s
father was personal guard for Kim Il Sung. North Korea has 10 different classes,
he was born into high class family. He was brainwashed at school, he was
taught “Our family has served the Kim family for years & you will lay down
your life for them as well.” At 14 he was enlisted to army. The unit he joined
was responsible for the Sony pictures cyber attack, they kidnapped Japanese
hostages, and was responsible for the assassination on Kim’s brother. He was
protecting Kim’s houses & yachts, and made an oath that, “you will sacrifice
your life if you tell any secrets to anyone.” He was taught that the family
portrait of the Kim family was more important than any human life! And when
there was a building fire he tried to save the portrait instead of the soldiers
inside! He was very badly burnt & spent 7 months in hospital. He attempted
suicide twice, & had severe depression. He decided to Defect. He escaped with
his sister and spent a year in China. His sister was arrested & taken back to
prison. She was released in 2020 & died after being tortured. His Mother went
to prison for calling him, went from 50 kg to 35kg. The families are tortured if
someone has defected or if someone is a Christian.
Long story short, he came to Christ. And felt God speak to him. The Lord Said,
“My son, you went through a terrible time when you got burned, you look
beautiful, I am on your side, I know all of your scars, & the scars in your heart.”
He said, “The Lord gave me a new heart!” He is now married and has a son. He
is believing for unification between North & South Korea and is at a Baptist
Seminary and his dream is to go back & and preach the gospel to North Korea!
Most Christians would never want to return, but he feels that God wants him
to go back one day! One Pastor said that our pain becomes a source of power
to preach, this is the mindset of a martyr.
80% of North Korean defectors are women. Another highlight of the week was
having a Korean BBQ with some More mature ladies from North Korea. Are lot
of the women that have defected were sex-trafficked, and have some brutal
stories. One lady had trauma for 5 years and was on very heavy medication.
She was traumatized, because her neighbours ate her daughter. Even as I type
this, I cannot fathom how horrible this would be. But this is how evil and
wicked this situation is! One of the most beautiful moments was seeing the
ladies do a traditional Korean dance for us. And seeing the smile on this ladies
face as she danced for us. They use this dance as therapy for these ladies and
it’s proven to be quite fruitful! These ladies have been trained to go & share
the gospel with other North Korean defectors. They use the principle of Luke
10, where Jesus sent the disciples to go out & look for the person of peace &
share the Gospel with them. And they had some amazing stories of people
coming to Christ!
A few other highlights were interviewing a Pastor from Ukraine. He had church
of 500, a network of 36 churches, and was living well he had Businesses in
Water purification & was in the Restaurant business before the war. Now it’s
all gone. After Russia’s invasion, he lost everything. He was imprisoned &
interrogated. After his release he & his family had to flee. He explained that
the Russian mindset is that Ukraine is corrupt Nazi’s. He asked us to pray for
Another highlight was interviewing Petr Jasek. He has served as The Voice of
the Martyrs regional director for ministry in Africa and faced fierce persecution
from both the Sudanese government and Islamic extremist groups. After 445
days in jail, Petr was released. He now travels internationally and speaks to
millions about how God sustained him in the direst of circumstances.
I also had the chance to visit Yoido Full Gospel Church, a Pentecostal church
affiliated with the Assemblies of God on Yeouido (Yoi Island) in Seoul, South
Korea. With about 480,000 members, it is the largest Pentecostal Christian
congregation in South Korea. Founded by David Yonggi Cho and Choi Ja-shil in
1958, the church is presently led by Young Hoon Lee. The church has several
satellite locations throughout the city of Seoul.
I have so many stories to tell, and the interviews cover a lot of the topics raised
in this article and more. If you’d like to Watch or listen to them Here is the link:
https://www.youtube.com/@newhopebrisbane/videos They will also be aired
on Historymakers radio, Vision Christian Radio, and will be available wherever
you get your podcasts.