Lured into traveling to China by human traffickers, these women were then forced into marriages or even prostitution. Through the Open Doors undercover program, which focuses on getting to know Jesus, the lives of these traumatized women are restored. The women who are married change; their abusive families often change as well, and they receive a desire to spread the gospel to others. Others, who choose to return to North Korea, are ready to become the future female leaders of the North Korean Church. Here are three typical testimonies of women we have worked with anywhere from several months to several years.
From Fleeing the Army to Fleeing to Christ
I was born into a North Korean family as the youngest daughter. Life at home was very difficult. I got married when I was 30, but my husband became ill and could not work. We had no money and no food. I became so desperate that I poisoned my own baby because I could not feed him. I finally divorced my husband and applied for a position in the military. But even in the army there was not enough food to survive. So I left.
I stood at the train station with no money and no identification papers; no way to return home. In the waiting area, a nice lady approached me. She spoke to me and offered to take me somewhere where I could make a lot of money. I actually had no choice than to follow her. So, in the middle of a very dark night, I crossed the border river into China. There, I was sold into marriage.
My husband was an alcoholic and very abusive. In our village I met another lady from North Korea in the same situation, but she was able to attend a Bible study group. I decided to join her because it offered financial support. Still, I was very afraid to study the Bible; I was afraid Chinese officials would capture me. But I kept attending.
I learned how to pray, how to sing praise songs, and I memorized Bible verses. I continued to attend despite my husband’s fierce objections. One day, these Bible verses struck me: John 15:5 “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself, it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me,” and Genesis 1:28 “God blessed them and said to them ‘Be fruitful and increase in number: fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’”
I held these Bible verses in my heart and realized that Jesus Christ died for me on the cross. I was a sinner, but Jesus loved me. I keep telling my husband to believe in Christ. My husband did not understand what kind of God I believed in, but thankfully we didn’t fight any more about my attending the Bible study group.
After I got baptized, I felt that I should love other ladies when they were unkind. And I tried to help the women get along.
I have a young daughter now and I hope she will follow God and spread the gospel to others. My family is so happy and blessed even though my in-laws are not yet believers. God poured out His blessing upon us. God doesn’t show favoritism for His people. I started to pray for our family to be saved in Christ.
Since I accepted Christ as my Savior, my life has changed completely through the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 4:8: “God demonstrates his own loves for us in this; while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” I want to follow Jesus in spreading the gospel and loving others first to demonstrate his love for us.
“I Had no Hope Left”
My North Korean parents belonged to the laborer class, and I had five siblings. We were generally okay until our country was struck by the Great Famine in the 90s. During these years there was nothing to eat. My father passed away three months after his leg was severely fractured in an accident. He was the main pillar of our family and we had no idea what to do.
Eventually my mother sold the house and we all moved into my brother’s house even though his wife was not happy with that idea and eventually, we were forced to leave. My mother found a place to live in a small resting area in the factory where she worked. I had to wander around because I had nowhere to stay.
One day, I slept at the train station and met a lady who asked me to go to China to make money for my family. My family objected, but I felt I had no choice. However, China was much different than I expected. I was married off.
When someone asked me to attend a Bible study meeting, I was only interested in the money. My Chinese husband was against me going because he feared I’d run off. I still went.
He didn’t believe in any religion. In fact, he was an alcoholic and whenever he was drunk he abused me verbally and physically. I was afraid to be with him. One day, he bit me. I had had it and tried to commit suicide. I had no hopes. But my attempt to kill myself failed, and when my husband found me, he confessed his wrongdoings and even cried.
That’s when I started to pray for my husband and myself. I cried out to God and realized God was always with me. He wept for me, too. I prayed, “Forgive our sins and accept us as your children.”
I also prayed for my husband to stop drinking. After some time, I realized that he wasn’t abusing me anymore, neither physically nor verbally. I found out that he reads the Bible and prays to stop drinking. Little by little, the family I was forced into is changing. God is really knocking on the door of my husband’s heart. I know that God listens to and answers my prayers.
I now pray that God uses me to evangelize other North Korean women and even North Koreans who still live inside North Korea. I want to go back to my family in North Korea and bring them to our Lord Jesus Christ.
“After I Saw Their Dead Bodies on The Table, I Did Not Speak for Three Years”
I was born in North Korea in the 1970s. My father and mother were military instructors. We were a happy family until I was eight. That’s when disaster struck our family for the first time. My father was dishonorably charged from the army because he gambled. My mother was in utter shock and her illness kept her in bed for a very long time.
Later, my teacher was called out of the class room. When he came back, he asked my brother and me to follow him. He brought us to a government office and that’s where my parent’s dead bodies lay on the table. My father had to take my mother to the hospital to be treated for her illness. They were hit by a car. That moment, I lost both my parents in one blow. I was in complete shock and didn’t speak for over three years.
My brother studied at a university and became a teacher. My relatives sought help for me and my speech returned. When I was 18, I got married to a kind man 10 years my elder. For 10 years we lived happily, then one day there was an accident at work and because he was in charge of that headquarters, he was sentenced to 10 years in a prison camp.
I had no way of surviving by myself. In my desperation, I met a lady who had an idea for me to make money quickly. She asked me to smuggle some goods, such as a TV, from China. I simply said yes.
But China was not what I expected. The lady left me behind by myself. I had no idea where I was and how I could go back to North Korea. I cried for several days and really missed my husband, who was in the North Korean prison. I could not return home, and to be safe I had to get married to a Han-Chinese husband, not a Korean Chinese man. I had a son with him.
After staying in China for three years, I finally joined some other ladies at a Bible study group meeting. I had always refused because I had a negative idea about Christianity. But the other North Korean women in my village told me their lives had changed a lot since attending those meetings.
There, I heard the good news of Jesus Christ for the first time and eventually I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior. I wanted to be like the Bible teacher because I was so amazed at how she explained the Bible verses so easily and clearly. I expect to be more like her in the future.
I used to be a hot-tempered person who struggled with severe spells of depression. Now I am following Jesus’ steps with servanthood and perseverance. The relationship with my husband and his family has greatly improved since I believed in Christ.
Jesus said, “Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve.” I look like him more and more. I have changed into a person who wants to serve and have humbly accepted Christ as my Savior. I take care of my family and mother-in-law with love and care. It’s not a burden for me anymore.
I pray for my only son, that he will be salt and light in his classroom and his neighborhood. I also want to be a Bible teacher who will preach the gospel so people will get saved. I was once lost as a sinful creature, but now I am alive in Christ. I pray that I will know Him more and on a deeper level, that I will live the Christian life as a witness of Christ Jesus who saved my life and brought me to light from the darkness.
Lord Jesus, You are the Christ, the Alpha and the Omega, the one who is, who was, and who is coming, the Almighty. (Rev 1:8) We praise You. It is to You that we cry out on behalf of these North Korean sisters whose lives have endured so much sorrow and hardship. And it is to You that we give praise for the life you have breathed into them, turning their mourning into dancing. Nurture them in Your Word; grow their faith; continue to give them opportunity and a heart to share Your gospel with those around them and with family in North Korea. We pray for their husbands and for their children, that they too will faithfully serve You. Pour out Your grace upon these nations of China and North Korea, that the walls of injustice might fall and a mighty throng might stand in freedom to proclaim Your victorious Name to the world. It is in Your Name we pray—Jesus, the firm anchor of hope for our souls, Amen.