Ven. Pomnyun, chairman of the
All of which makes him a potent symbol now. … Son turned to one of the missionaries operating clandestinely along the border, helping refugees escape. Like many others Son converted to Christianity. Unlike most, he returned to
Evangelicals have taken up Son's cause, drawing rare attention to the North's underground church. "To be a Christian is not just to follow a different religion," says Todd Nettleton of Voice of the Martyrs, one of several
It's hard to say how many covert Christians the North has; estimates range from the low tens of thousands to 100,000. Missionaries say Christians often keep their Bibles buried in the backyard, wrapped in vinyl. Preachers based in
The Christian activists along the border are a dedicated bunch, but they have a vested interest in dramatizing the plight of their brethren in the North. The latest U.S. State Department human-rights report says that "members of underground churches have been beaten, arrested, detained in prison camps, tortured or killed" in the North, but emphasizes that such accounts are unconfirmed. Son hasn't been heard from in months. But his supporters remain convinced that they can help him to survive and, in so doing, win one small battle for a beleaguered faith.
[Excerpt of an article by Christian Caryl and B. J. Lee, Newsweek]