Like many of you, I’ve really been enjoying the Olympics, especially since my birth country is hosting it! However, I hadn’t quite made up my mind in regards to North Korea’s participation at this winter games. For I while I wasn’t sure if North Korea’s participation would make an impact in the downfall of the North Korean regime. Could sports be the answer to the thawing of the diplomatic relationship between North Korea and the rest of the world? I was further discouraged by the fact that the North Korean athletes wouldn’t have the freedom to move about to enjoy the Olympics or let alone freely interact with other athletes. (See news article)
We were recently in Dallas for our Colombia team meeting. (Click here for blog entry). I don’t remember who mentioned it, but I learned a cool fact that gave me hope for North Korea. First a little history background: For the past 50 years, the Colombian government has been in conflict with the Marxist guerilla group called FARC (Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia). The FARC had control over large portions of Colombia. In order to fund their operations, the FARC got involved in drug trafficking, kidnapping, and various other illegal activities. As a result, many Colombians were displaced or suffered in violent clashes between the guerilla group and the Colombian armed forces. However, in the last few years, the FARC and the Colombian government had engaged in peace talks and finally in 2016 signed a peace deal. The Colombian government has been able to move into areas that were long controlled by the FARC. The goal of the government is the restore order and basic services. To their surprise, there is a presence of evangelical churches in these areas. I wondered if it was the presence of the Gospel message that started to turn the hearts of the FARC leaders that eventually culminated to a peaceful resolution in what seemed to be an endless cycle of violence.
Ezekiel 36:26 – And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.
I know that even at this moment, there are believers in North Korea. I know there is an underground church in North Korea that is sharing the good news of the Gospel. God is sovereign. The fact that South Korea is hosting the Olympics at a time that there is great animosity towards North Korea isn’t by coincidence. The fact that the North Korea sent a sizable delegation to this Olympic event isn’t coincidence either. I believe that the only peaceful resolution to the North Korean regime is going to happen through the power of the Gospel. Only the good news of a risen Christ can change the heart of stone. But how will the North Korean delegation hear the gospel if they are under constant surveillance?
Here is where you come in. Pray during the Olympics. Pray that God would blind the eyes of those who are opposing the Gospel. Pray that God would distract and disorient those who are keeping surveillance over the North Korean delegation. Pray that the elite athletes of North Korea would have an opportunity to hear the Gospel. I’m reminded of Paul (Saul) and Barnabas on Cyprus in Acts 13:4-12.
4 So, being sent out by the Holy Spirit, they went down to Seleucia, and from there they sailed to Cyprus. 5 When they arrived at Salamis, they proclaimed the word of God in the synagogues of the Jews. And they had John to assist them. 6 When they had gone through the whole island as far as Paphos, they came upon a certain magician, a Jewish false prophet named Bar-Jesus. 7 He was with the proconsul, Sergius Paulus, a man of intelligence, who summoned Barnabas and Saul and sought to hear the word of God. 8 But Elymas the magician (for that is the meaning of his name) opposed them, seeking to turn the proconsul away from the faith. 9 But Saul, who was also called Paul, filled with the Holy Spirit, looked intently at him 10 and said, “You son of the devil, you enemy of all righteousness, full of all deceit and villainy, will you not stop making crooked the straight paths of the Lord? 11 And now, behold, the hand of the Lord is upon you, and you will be blind and unable to see the sun for a time.” Immediately mist and darkness fell upon him, and he went about seeking people to lead him by the hand. 12 Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.
Right now, there are many organizations and churches in South Korea sharing the Gospel. Please pray that the light of the Gospel would shine on the North Korean delegation. Political or religious actions may change the circumstances in North Korea, but at a great cost. Only the power of the gospel, that changes the hearts of stone, can change the destiny of a nation through peaceful resolution.