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When Unbelief is Faith

It was our last evening in North Korea and we were having a very pleasant dinner. The conversation was easy and relaxed when the topic of belief, especially religious belief, was raised.

When unbelief is faith (1)
When unbelief is faith (1)

“What is your religious belief?”, asked one of our guides. It was a strange request because she already knew that we were Christians. When I returned the question, she replied that she didn’t believe and we left it at that.

Later that evening, in my hotel room, I began to reflect on that encounter. “I don’t believe.”

At face value she was right. But then I recalled a visit to Mansu Hill in Pyongyang where the 22–metre–high statues of Kim Il–Sung and Kim Jong–Il are located. She had asked if we could wait a moment while she and her colleague went forward to the statues to make their bows – an expression of worship.

When unbelief is faith (2)
When unbelief is faith (2)

I also recalled a conversation where I had asked her why she wore badges with the image of either Kim Il–Sung, Kim Jong–Il or both. She replied saying it was because she believes they are always with her. “In what sense?”, I enquired. “In my heart”. I was struck by the sincerity with which that statement of belief was made.

It has always been my contention that if what you believe does not affect the way that you live, then you don’t really believe it. It was clear to me that the way this young woman lived her life was seriously affected by her belief in the deity of Kim Il–Sung and Kim Jong–Il, not to mention an unshakeable belief in the gracious provision of all things current by Marshall Kim Jong–Un, the Most Respected Supreme Leader.

I was left with the firm conclusion that though she said she had no belief, she did. She exercised her life as one of faith. And though her faith was real, it would never result in her having eternal life, because that is only found in Jesus Christ, the only true Saviour.

I was challenged to consider whether my life of faith was as evident as hers.

This post was written by an AsiaLink staff member after a visit to Pyongyang in 2018.


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