The recent book, Escape from Camp 14 by Blaine Harden is about Shin Dong-hyuk, the only North Korean known to have escaped from a “total-control zone” prison camp and gained his freedom. Born in the camp, Shin reports of a culture where fear and hunger drive out the most basic instincts like maternal care and filial love.
Humanitarian organizations report that there are likely as many as 200,000 people, including children, who live in near starvation conditions, in fear of torture and execution. North Korea, which claims the camps do not exist, is a totalitarian country isolated by self-destructive ideology that uses the threat of incarceration for entire families to keep its population under mental control.
While the international community has tried withholding badly needed food supplies to effect change, and has discussed other measures, I am convinced that prayer is essential. In addition to diplomatic efforts, a wholehearted turning to God can save these people from more suffering.
Of prayer’s simplest form, Mary Baker Eddy says, “Desire is prayer; and no loss can occur from trusting God with our desires, that they may be moulded and exalted before they take form in words and in deeds” (Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 1). Therefore at the most basic level the unquenchable desire that these abuses stop is in itself prayer.
From a metaphysical standpoint that desire can blossom into a shift in consciousness—from frustration over an untenable condition to confidence that God, Truth and Love, is the source of all right action.
Prayers of love, with all the devotion of a mother praying for her children, have power to awaken thought.
For example, when Moses went to Egypt to free the children of Israel, he went out of love for both God and the Hebrew people. His trust in God empowered him to part the waters of the Red Sea and lead his people through many trials to the Promised Land. I believe that this same trust will strengthen our prayers for the people of North Korea and other parts of the world.
This prayer is an example of loving one another as Christ Jesus commanded, and following his example means our love needs to include all of God’s children. Each of us can open our hearts to embrace the North Korean people and reject the influence of atheism and totalitarianism. These institutional barriers would claim to stop spiritual progress, but under Truth’s influence they can and will lose their grip on society.
Prayers of love, with the devotion of a mother praying for her children, have power to awaken thought. We cannot be numbed into believing the situation in North Korea is hopeless or that Love is not present. God, infinite Love, is omniscient and omnipresent.
No matter what form aggression may take, God, Truth, is speaking to the consciousness of leaders and citizens, revealing the beauty and promise of goodness and liberty. In the end, the power of Love always wins.
Just as Moses’ deep communion with God led the children of Israel to freedom, our steadfast communion with God will help to bring about needed changes, perhaps in ways that no one can now imagine. For example, few expected the Berlin Wall to come down so suddenly and thoroughly. Persistent prayer on the part of many people around the world, supported this breakthrough to freedom.
In Science and Health, Mary Baker Eddy writes: “The ‘still, small voice’ of scientific thought reaches over continent and ocean to the globe’s remotest bound. The inaudible voice of Truth is, to the human mind, ‘as when a lion roareth.’ It is heard in the desert and in dark places of fear. It arouses the ‘seven thunders’ of evil, and stirs their latent forces to utter the full diapason of secret tones” (p. 559). The power of this Truth is well able to set mental captives free. And our prayers can help to prove this.
Shelly Richardson is a Christian Science practitioner based in Eugene, Oregon.