“Praise the LORD, all nations! Extol him, all peoples!” Psalm 117:1
This morning my Bible reading began with the clarion call to all nations to give praise to the LORD. God is not provincial. He does not belong to a nation or a people. His people reflect his glory locally in congregations that gather in time and space, but he is globally praised and proclaimed by them because they live all over the world. God’s grace knows no borders. The gospel needs no passport. Christ does not ask for permission to enter a nation, infiltrate a people group, and win hearts for his glory. He sends grace carriers across ethnic and national boundaries to save people. He moves people to share the gospel with their own kin and kindred. His people are everywhere. All the nations do praise him.
Today, the leaders of North and South Korea are meeting together. The two Koreas have been separated since 1945. The Korean War began in 1950. The fighting ended in 1953, but a peace treaty was never signed. They remain separated and the threat of nuclear conflict hangs over the Korean Peninsula. Will these leaders come to an agreement to denuclearize the peninsula? The world is waiting for the answer. We are praying that they will.
There is another Korean story that will not likely make today’s headlines. This is the story of the church. South Korea has had religious freedom all these years and is now home to the world’s largest church. The Yoido Full Gospel Church was founded in 1958 and claims more than a half million members. Christian congregations of all brands and sizes freely worship throughout South Korea.
On the other hand, North Korea’s population of 25 million has 300,000 accounted for Christians. These believers suffer under an atheistic communist dictatorship. According to the 2018 World Watch List, produced by Open Doors, North Korea is, “the worst place on earth for Christians”, and that here, “Christians experience the widest extent of persecution in the world.” Open Doors reports that Christians, “languish in prison camps, starve for lack of food rations and endure hard labor for their faith in Jesus Christ.” And yet, “God is at work, bringing many to Himself, perfecting their faith and keeping them under the shadow of his wing.”
The separation of North and South Korea is seen as a purely political event. And today’s historic meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas will be seen this way, too. But, we know that God has his people in every nation. We know that political events are ultimately in the hands of the sovereign Lord. We have seen in history how these events impact the church of Jesus Christ. While the gospel knows no borders, those who control these borders and what goes on inside them do make a difference in the experience of the church.
So, we pray. We pray for today’s meeting to produce a world less threatened by nuclear war. And, we also pray for the church of Jesus Christ in both Koreas. What might the Lord be doing for his church and for global evangelism through today’s meeting? How might a new relationship between these countries impact the church in both countries? In what ways will the gospel cross borders through these events? How will North and South Korean believers minister to one another if a new openness is achieved? How will the all Koreans and the world benefit from a Korean church that sends missionaries to the nations?
We do not know the direct answer to all these questions, but we do know that God is always at work, that his grace knows no borders, and that all nations will praise him. So, as we watch the news of the day, we pray to the Lord every day.