Discipling secret believers
For decades, Byung-Chul carried out the role of spiritual leader to many; the underground church in this remote village grew, thanks to his evangelistic work, Young-Sik says. He served the Lord by serving others in this desolate place. Even when he had the unexpected opportunity to leave, Byung-Chull stayed.
“One day, a high official visited Byung-chul’s home,” Young-Sik says. “He asked him for his medical advice on the illness of someone of a higher position. Byung-chul thought this was a special opportunity from God. He quickly prayed to himself, went with the guard, and carefully treated the man. When he was well, the man offered Byung-Chul an opportunity to move to an inner city and have his identity level raised.”
But instead, Byung-Chul passed on the favor to one of the street children Young-Sik was caring for and helping to survive. A few weeks later, the child was sent to a large city for a much better education and better life.
“Byung-Chul was very convinced of his own calling,” Young-Sik says. “He would have never left the village and the fellow believers he took care of.”
As he and Young-Sik continued to meet together, the two men grew in their love for God and each other. And like the apostle Paul trained the younger Timothy, Byung-Chul discipled and trained Young-Sik to one day take his place as spiritual leader of the village.
That day recently came. Byung-Chul passed away peacefully. Before his death, he prayed a blessing over Young-Sik—a moment the young man will never forget. For him, it was when he realized that God had orchestrated his steps from day one to bring His gospel to people who needed to hear about Jesus.
“When he blessed me as the new leader, that was another joyful and spiritually significant moment,” Young-Sik says. “But it’s not just the role I’ve been given; it’s also my calling. I know that I will serve the Lord until my death in this village. This is where God placed me, not the government. Byung-Chul always said, ‘If I live here, I’ll live here. If I die, I will die here.’”
Young-Sik thinks back to the day he met Byung-Chul. How from barren fields, God used an almost inaudible prayer and two faithful men to grow and multiply a harvest he could never have fathomed. A secret church he would have never thought could come from seemingly God-forsaken circumstances.
As one of our Open Doors field team members says, “Christian life in North Korea is beyond anyone’s imagination, but we all pray that God is faithful.”
This story first appeared in the January/February issues of Open Doors’ bi-monthy Presence magazine. To subscribe or learn more about Presence, click here.