Last week, we read how Kim Sang-Hwa’s parents led her to faith in Christ after she discovered the Bible they kept hidden in their home. When we left her story last week, her father had obtained approval for her to marry the upper class man she loved. Her story continues:
After I got married, my husband and I tried to take care of homeless people (kotchebi). There was a kotchebi teen who lived with us for a while. She stole all my clothes and then disappeared; I was really annoyed by that. My father told me that God would provide. I replied, “Whatever.” But a couple of days later, I was contacted by an aunt from China. She said she had a bunch of clothes for me. My father was thrilled. “See-” he said, “God had prepared these clothes for you even before your own clothes were stolen.”
There were many other examples. God gave me wisdom and good opportunities. He really blessed me. And He saved me a couple of times, as well. When my husband and I eventually escaped, we were waiting at the shore of the Tumen River. A soldier’s patrol passed right by us, and they didn’t notice us. And in China, my husband and I were trekking through the mountains when we were approached by a small group of armed men. They told my husband to leave so nothing would happen to me. “Run!” he shouted to me. I started to run, and I heard my husband fighting with them. I was so scared. They even had a gun. But a few minutes later, my husband came after me, unharmed.
When we were still in North Korea, my husband and I had different desires. He dreamed of making much money and leading a wealthy life. I wanted to share as much as possible with people in need. I had always wanted to do that. Even when my mother got good products from the market for me, I gave most of them away to my friends. It felt wrong to keep them.
Slowly, my husband and I became more and more discontent with the North Korean system. Out of every three people, at least one of them was a spy. We always needed to do what we were told and my father was pretty open about how bad our country really was. Soon we were confronted with that unequal system. Because of our wealth—which was obtained through my father’s profession and our relatives in China—we were labeled as “followers of capitalism.”
Through God’s provision, my husband’s brother was a high official. He warned us and told us we were about to be deported. My husband and I were devastated. Banished? We might as well have been sent straight to prison. It felt as if my life was over. My husband was so angry. He cried, I think, despite the fact that both of us could not show any emotions to others, not even to each other. We brought our 2-year-old son to my parents. My father tried to encourage me and told us God would come through for us. Other people who knew what was about to happen reassured us that everything would be okay. We were not convinced. We wanted to escape to China. But how?
Our new house was not too far from the Chinese border and we decided we would try to escape. There was a fire in my husband’s eyes. I knew there was only one thought on his mind— revenge. He wanted to go to China and come back one day to kill the people who had done this to us.
One night in the early 2000s, we crossed the border river. It wasn’t difficult to find shelter and work in China, since it was farming season. But life was hard. We suffered a lot. For a married couple, it was more difficult to stay together. Besides, in this area, many refugees were arrested and sent back. My husband wanted to go to Russia, so we walked many miles through the mountains. This is where a group of men wanted to rape me and where my husband beat them. It proved how dangerous China was for us. It was better to meet a wild animal than to meet any person. It was also very cold. We made a fire and melted some snow to get water.
That first year in China was probably the hardest. But there were also good things. At some point, Chinese Christians took care of us, and my husband also gave his life to Jesus. We never made it to Russia. We spent three years in China. We cut wood in the winter and sold it to earn some money. In the spring, we worked at farms. Both of us attended a Bible study group. However, there was always the fear of arrest. Especially when we heard cars stopping outside, we panicked. Was this the police? After one year, we were able to pay a broker to bring our son back from North Korea to us. From the moment I had escaped China, I prayed to be reunited with him. “Father, please bring him back to me. I promise we’ll offer Him to you as a living sacrifice.”
We arrived in South Korea several years after we left North Korea, coming through Myanmar and Thailand. My son is a teenager now, and I’m ready to let him go when God calls him. He has a few siblings now who were born here in South Korea.
My dreams and hopes haven’t changed much since I left North Korea. There is much more freedom here in the South, but our belief is the same. I wish I could go back to North Korea and share the gospel with the people there and have fellowship with the local believers. I love their faith. I’d be ready to die for the gospel. I think that if I didn’t have a family here in South Korea, I would have returned already and helped the people in need.
How my father would want us to pray for North Korea? Easy. He always told me to seek the Kingdom first. That will always be his prayer for his country and all believers. This is also what I pray in the morning when I kneel at the map on the floor and pray for the brothers and sisters. But sometimes I’m discouraged. I feel the same as many believers around the world. It seems like nothing is changing in North Korea. The situation only gets worse. When I pray, I often ask God, “What’s the point? Why do you want me to keep on praying for North Korea?” But then God reminds me, “You know North Korea better than anyone else. You know the people and their suffering. If you won’t pray, who will? Rely on Me. Believe in Me.”
Father, we join Sang-Hwa in praying for North Korea. We pray for their freedom from the oppressive regime that keeps so many people in poverty, even starvation. We pray for the Christians who suffer for their faith in Christ; who suffer from fear of being detected and from imprisonment and even horrific execution. Sustain them in the midst of their poverty and wash over them with Your incomprehensible peace. Protect them from harm, and give them opportunities to share Your Word. We pray also for Your Word to be spread in North Korea through radio and other media that more and more in places of leadership might turn to You in faith. For those Christians who face death, we pray that their peace and hope in Christ will be a clear testimony to those who bring about their execution and will result in more souls being set free from the tyranny of godlessness. We pray with longing for that day when this nation is released from political bondage and the world sees Your church having grown strong and vibrant in her faith in the midst of the oppression of man. In the name of Jesus, our only hope in this life and the next, Amen.