Behind Enemy Lines
John Short knew the risks, at seventy-three years of age, he had not traveled from his home in Australia to North Korea to see the sights or to hear the mechanical praises of the Totalitarian North Korean government. He had come to sow the seeds of the Gospel. It is not a surprise then that He also ended up being detained by the North Korean government for three weeks after the Gospel tracts he discretely distributed were discovered and traced back to him. John Short’s story made the national news as many wondered what the North Korean government would do with a Western prisoner while the world was watching. Many others must have wondered at the foolishness of this man who had dared to defy the North Korean government which is vehemently opposed to Christianity. If John Short had been a native North Korean, it is almost certain that he never would have seen the sun again. But even as a citizen of an influential and politically western country, his actions inside the borders of North Korea were highly risky. North Korea is a graveyard for missionaries. But what struck me as I listened to Mr. Short’s interview on the Voice of the Martyrs radio was his confidence and peace. He seemed to be virtually fearless. In fact, he may go back and try again! The interviewer, Todd Nettleton, asked Mr. Short if he was afraid during the three weeks of his detainment to which Mr. Short replied, “I discovered that fear and faith cannot both exist in the same heart at the same time.” Richard Wurmbrand, the founder of the Voice of the Martyrs, who also spent fourteen years in communist prisons for preaching the gospel, pointed out that the Bible says “Do no fear” 366 times; once for every day of the year, including the leap years! Unlike the sad, young, college student who was recently arrested (and sentenced!) in North Korea for pulling a prank with a North Korean flag, John Short had no hint of fear in his voice or testimony. John understands the truth that we are always in the presence of God and can therefore never be physically behind enemy lines. Psalm 24:1 says, “The Earth is the Lord’s and all it contains”. North Korea is territory that belongs to Jesus and so we should not fear if He calls us to go preach the Gospel there. The Chinese Church likes to say “the safest place to be is in the will of God.” Many North Koreans have defected to China where they discovered Christ and then returned to North Korea to preach the Gospel, in spite of the high personal risks. They don’t perceive North Korea as being behind enemy lines. They know that he who the Son sets free is free indeed (John 8:36). The real enemy is fear that keeps us bound up whether we live in North Korea or North Carolina. There is no territory in all the world that belongs to the enemy except the areas of our lives that we refuse to surrender to Christ. So, surrender and be free.