Young artist gets behind religious freedom campaign

Release International has enlisted the help of an up and coming artist to raise funds towards its work supporting the persecuted church in North Korea.

Going up for auction in a few weeks is a painting called 'Hope', by promising young London artist Emma Butler.

The 5ft by 4ft oil painting depicts the darkness and tyranny of the reclusive communist country, where Christians are routinely imprisoned and tortured, but also the hope coming to the land through the proclamation of the Gospel.

The painting depicts that message of hope being delivered from the air by Christian leaflets dropped from balloons.

"Art is a wonderful way to express something you cannot communicate any other way," said the 17-year-old, a former student at Thames Christian College in Clapham.

"North Koreans desperately need to hear God’s message of hope. Christians are reaching out to them with balloons carrying messages about Jesus that they send into North Korea.

"To see light coming in is what I wanted to capture and communicate. It’s such a beautiful image - this idea of hope coming across the horizon."

The painting is set to go on display at a number of locations in October and November, before being auctioned just before Christmas.

The funds raised from the sale will go towards Release's One Day campaign for religious freedom in North Korea.

Release's chief executive Andy Dipper added: "Emma has done an amazing job and we’re thrilled that she has responded to the One Day campaign in this way.

"We’re enormously grateful to Emma for putting her talents to use to produce something that will inspire many Christians in this country to engage with the issue of persecution in North Korea."

Release International is supporting refugees who have fled North Korea and is working with local Christian partners to provide safe houses, health care and pastoral support.

As part of the campaign, more than 30,000 people have signed a Release petition calling on North Korea to allow its citizens to practise their faith in freedom.

The petition form can be downloaded from the Release website or signed online at www.releaseinternational.org/petition