Charismatic Wins Peace Prize

by | Oct 7, 2008 | Charisma Archive

Suzanne Scholte was honored in Seoul, Korea, Tuesday for her campaigns
to improve the human rights of refugees from North Korea and the Western
Sahara.
 
Charismatic Wins Peace Prize
[10.08.08] A charismatic Christian was awarded the prestigious Seoul Peace Prize
Tuesday for her work in promoting freedom and human rights for the citizens of
North Korea and the Sahrawi refugees of Western Sahara—the only colony in Africa
under Moroccan rule.

 
At an awards ceremony held in Seoul, Korea, Suzanne Scholte, chairwoman of
the North Korea Freedom Coalition and president of the Defense Forum Foundation
(DFF), was honored as the ninth recipient of the biennial award, which
recognizes individuals or groups that have contributed extensively to world
peace. Three of the eight previous recipients were later awarded the Nobel Peace
Prize.
 
“I feel humbled but also I feel honored,” Scholte stated in September after
being notified of her selection. “It is a great honor to receive this great
prize even when I just did what I should do. Doing all that we can do for the
promotion of the human rights for North Korea and North Korean refugees
represents the conscience of the age.”
 
Scholte, a Spirit-filled Christian, told Charisma that her
compulsion to help the suffering stemmed from an earnest prayer. “Years ago,”
she said, “I prayed that God would break my heart for things that broke His
heart.”
 
She became a convert to humanitarian activism after two North Korean
defectors begged her in 1996 to investigate a political prisoner camp
in North Korea, where they claimed the government imprisoned tens of thousands
of people to maintain control.
 
At that time, as president of the DFF since 1989, Scholte had helped her
Washington-based bipartisan group evolve into a human rights organization by not
only educating Congress on national security issues but also by promoting
freedom and democracy in nations known for human rights violations. According to
the DFF Web site, the transition in focus was because “the greatest threats to
the United States are always from regimes that terrorize their own
people.”
 
In April 1999, Scholte hosted the first hearing in Congress on the North
Korean political prisoner camps at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee’s
subcommittee on East Asian and Pacific Affairs. She not only testified in the
hearing but also personally hosted those first North Koreans who barely survived
harsh prison camps.
 
Since that time, Scholte has invited a wide spectrum of 57 defectors to the
U.S.—from sex-trafficked women to diplomats once close to North Korean dictator
Kim Jong-il. Many of the refugees have testified in Congress, participated in
rallies, granted media interviews and spoken at conferences. She also has
assisted behind the scenes in the rescues of dozens of North Koreans who made
the dangerous trek across the Tumen River into China.
 
While playing host on Capitol Hill, Scholte developed an interesting
relationship with one of North Korea’s highest-ranking defectors, Hwang
Jang-Yop—a revered thinker in North Korea responsible for Juche theology. The
humanistic belief purports that man is the center of the universe. It grew into
Kim Jong-ilism, the worship of North Korea’s infamous dictator. “Yop knows my
Christian beliefs,” Scholte said. “I called on him personally to renounce the
ideology he founded and accept Christ as Savior.”
           
She said Hwang does not feel worthy to accept Christ’s forgiveness but, to
her surprise, he publicly published her appeal to receive Christ to all of his
Korean constituents. She said Hwang was deeply inspired by her faith, reminding
him of a 45-year-old experience he had of “beholding the deep, wide, and
magnificent beauty of the Geumgang Mountains.”
           
“Who has created this great beauty?” he asked. “Suzanne Scholte is the lamp
that lights the right pathway for the people, not letting them go astray.”
           
Scholte is also lighting a pathway for the people in Western Sahara,
Africa. In 1994, the Muslim president of Sahrawi Republic, Mohamed Abdelaziz,
gratefully received an Arabic Bible that Scholte gave him, calling it a “holy
book.”
           
“The Sahrawis believe in a personal relationship with God, not imams,
Sharia law, or state-regulated Islam,” Scholte said. “The president has invited
Christians to plant churches in their country. It’s remarkable to have a Muslim
president call for open religious freedom in his country.”
           
Scholte points out that although in the Muslim world women aren’t even
allowed to drive, the Sahrawi Republic government believes in freedom of
religion and all their women have rights, vote and are involved in public life.
“The only way to win war on terror is to empower Muslims who believe in these
basic fundamental rights,” she said.
           
Scholte joins a prestigious list of previous Seoul Peace Prize recipients
including former U.S. Secretary of State George P. Shultz, former U.N.
Secretary-General Kofi Annan and former President Vaclav Havel of the Czech
Republic C. Hope Flinchbaugh

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