This is what a North Korean tithe looks like

March 18, 2022 by Olivia Boyd in Asia

The picture you see here is an envelope with North Korean won (KPW)—the cash currency of North Korea (one North Korean won note is the equivalent of $2.22). For North Korean believer Sa-Myung (not her real name), this money constitutes a tenth of what she has for all winter.


And this radical believer gave away all of it as her tithe.

Sa-Myung mailed it to Open Doors, noting her gratitude for the medicine, food and clothing she received for the winter months—the riskiest time for survival in North Korea when temperatures can drop to as low as 15 degrees. For underground Christians, the country’s below-freezing conditions typically bring severely reduced food rations (in a country where food shortages are already paralyzing) and little fuel for heat.

The lack of both essentials can be lethal, ultimately resulting in illness and even death. When North Korea’s underground Christians receive our support, it is usually their only hope for survival. Winter relief deliveries went to those Christians who need it most, including Sa-Myung*.

By offering her tithe, Sa-Myung is essentially risking a tenth of her life, trusting that God will provide for her needs. Tithing a tenth of her resources is a true sacrifice for this secret believer.

‘Thank you for your prayers’

Sa-Myung is not the only North Korean believer who has expressed their gratitude. Recently, Yong-Gi*, one of the North Korean believers supported through our safehouse ministry in China, couldn’t keep her gratitude to herself. Instead, she sent us a letter, sharing the deep well of thankfulness she has felt. Below is a translated excerpt:

I would like to thank God’s grace that He made my dream come true.

Step by step, I realize how the Holy Spirit leads my life.

I decide to put all things onto God’s hands.

I remember how you told us that the land needs more spiritual leaders.

The message kept going around inside my head.

This morning, God spoke to me through Bible verses, and now all I can do is to follow His commands.

Thank you always for your prayers and sacrifice for the sake of us.

We pray that God’s greatest peace with you all.

Praying for the underground church in North Korea

In North Korea, secret believers are considered the biggest political threat to their government.

In North Korea, secret believers are considered the biggest political threat to their government.

North Korea is one of the most challenging places for Open Doors to provide aid and support for fellow believers. The closed country ranks No. 2 on Open Doors’ 2022 World Watch List’s 50 most dangerous countries for Christians, only slightly behind Afghanistan (for 20 years, North Korea has ranked No. 1). Believers are considered the biggest political threat to their government and if their faith is discovered they are executed or sent to one of the country’s inhumane labor camps where an estimated 50,000 to 75,000 Christians are imprisoned.

Our North Korean brothers’ and sisters’ dependence on Jesus is extraordinary, but they are grateful for the support and encouragement they receive from Open Doors partners. Please continue to pray that God will sustain them through harsh conditions and strengthen their faith as they follow Him.

Pray for radically generous Christians like Sa-Myung, that God would provide for their needs and they would be blessed for their sacrifice. Pray for courageous North Korean Christians like Yong-Gi, who listen to God’s words and daily struggle to follow His commands in the midst of so much oppression. Pray that God would continue to prepare his underground church in North Korea, estimated at 300,000 to 400,000 believers—strengthening them to share Jesus when the country opens up and the gospel is freely declared.

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