Prayer for N. Korea May 21-22 an 'act of love,' war veteran says

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)--Southern Baptists will fast and pray for 22 million people of North Korea during the 1999 Day of Prayer and Fasting, scheduled from 6 p.m. Friday, May 21, to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 22.

By asking God to bring his peace to this former enemy, Southern Baptists will commit "an act of love" that testifies to God's power to change lives, says a veteran of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Ken Dupuy, a businessman from Longview, Texas, has learned firsthand the power of God's amazing love for North Koreans. He once fought them as enemies. Then he ministered to them through relief projects when famine struck the country. He saw his former enemies as real people who are loved by God.

"They weren't objects anymore," he said. "These were real people and they were in real trouble. You could see the pain and misery these people were going through."

When North Koreans asked why he was bringing them food from Southern Baptists, Dupuy answered, "Because God loves you." Southern Baptists will fast and pray for North Korea for the same reason.

Intercessory prayer is "an act of love," Dupuy said. "The more you are involved in it, the greater the love you have, and the greater the capacity for love you have."

"We know God loves all the peoples of the earth, regardless of their situation," said Randy Sprinkle, director of the Southern Baptist International Mission Board's prayer strategy office. "We need to view the North Korean people as beloved of God and the focus of his saving grace in Christ, regardless of their current social and religious context."

North Korea is struggling under massive physical need caused by years of drought and flooding, soil erosion and crop loss. Up to 2 million North Koreans have died of hunger and related diseases since 1995, according to some estimates.

Southern Baptists have responded repeatedly to the physical needs of North Korea by sending shiploads and planeloads of food, medicine and thousands of coats to help hungry children survive North Korea's freezing winters.

Now, God is calling on them to send an all-embracing blanket of prayer -- not because North Koreans are "on their knees" as a nation, but because he loves them, Sprinkle said.

Southern Baptist churches interested in participating in the North Korea prayer emphasis can obtain a free resource kit, which includes a video and viewing guides, a prayer guide, fasting guidelines, clip art and a reprint of an article on North Korea from "The Commission" magazine. To order the kit, visit the IMB website at www.imb.org/resources; e-mail the IMB resource center at resource.center@imb.org; or call toll-free 1-800-866-3621.

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