NORTH KOREA — In North Korea, saying the word “Jesus” can be a death sentence. Hea-woo is a persecuted Christian, one of the prisoners in North Korea. Although her mother was a Christian, she only heard about Jesus through her husband.
To maintain her faith, the Christian fled to China, but there she was discovered and sent to one of the North Korean government’s forced labor camps.
Women like Hea-woo who manage to escape from North Korea to China are at risk of being victims of human trafficking. Fortunately, many of them find the opportunity to hear the Gospel and be welcomed through a project of the humanitarian organization Open Doors.
The North Koreans said, “The Christians are the worst creatures.” To pronounce the word “Jesus” was a death sentence.
Hea-woo, a persecuted Christian in North Korea. One of the phrases that children hear often is, “North Korea is the happiest country to live in.” Since they are not exposed to international media, they believe what they hear is true.
I remember my mother preparing breakfast while praying in the kitchen. At that moment, I did not understand what she was whispering. Today I understand that my mother was afraid to speak about Jesus Christ because it would put us all in danger.
Time passed and she died without having the opportunity to speak to us about Him. In North Korea, everyone is subjected to a brainwash that leads them to be under constant surveillance, even about their spouses or their own children. North Koreans are indoctrinated to denounce anyone who speaks about things contrary to what the government has taught.
My husband escaped from North Korea in 1996 and went to China. There he became part of a Korean church. However, one of the deacons of the same church denounced him to a public security agent and was forcibly taken back to North Korea, where he was imprisoned in a forced labor camp. The torture he faced was truly unimaginable, but even in the midst of precarious conditions, His only concern was those who did not know Jesus Christ. And while he was there, God helped him build a clandestine church in prison.
When my children and I visited him in prison, he shared some words that led us to give our lives to Christ. And since then, we have begun to pray sincerely. After his death, I fled from North Korea and found a church in China. One day, reading Our Father, I realized that Jesus had truly saved me from all my sins. The first phrase of that prayer says, “Our Father, who art in heaven.” That phrase was surprising and sounded very familiar to me.
My mother used to whisper to her, “Ah, my mother was a Christian.” Everything began to make sense at that moment. When I arrived at the prison, I saw that there was a very high fence so that no one could escape. Without hope, I began to cry, but the Lord told me, “Do not worry, I will help you.” Then I asked for a safe place, and God prepared a space for me and took me out of prison.
Just like Hea-woo, thousands of North Korean Christians face the constant persecution they suffer in the country. Out of fear, they do not share their faith, and when they dare to do so, they run the risk of being tortured and even imprisoned in forced labor camps. But our prayer and support help keep them together as one body.
About Open Doors UK
Open Doors is a non-denominational mission that supports persecuted Christians in over 70 countries where Christianity is socially or legally discouraged or oppressed. In their work, they provide vital support, training, and resources to those facing persecution or discrimination.
Resources that they provide include distributing Bibles and literature, running leadership training, assisting with socio-economic development and intercessory prayer. They also help victims of violence and disaster, including widows and orphans, with practical support such as relief aid, livelihood support, and community development projects.
Their vision is of a world in which every Christian who is persecuted is remembered and supported by other Christians. They pray for a world where there is no persecution.
- Global News Alliance, Christian Evangelizes Hundreds of Prisoners in North Korea
- Open Doors UK, Official Website