|Bongsu Church in North Korea|
Hye Ok is a 19 years old mature girl. She lives in a small village under the protection of a mission organization. Her family have been Christians for three generations. It was hard to believe at first even for us.
Hye Ok’s grandfather studied both medicine and theology and while he opened a clinic, he also started a church. When the Korean War erupted, he remained in North Korea for the spread of the gospel.
Secret Churches and Believers in North Korea
After the Korean War, North Korea adopted a religion eradication policy, and by 1958 with political reformation, it completely disregarded freedom of religion. However, Hye Ok’s grandfather continued his religious activities by forming underground church meetings. Although he kept all these activities secret, since more than 100 people gathered, the government found out about it. He was sentenced to life-imprisonment and after suffering from heavy labor and torture, he was released due to his illness.
After his release, despite of his deteriorating health, he continued spreading the gospel and was arrested for the second time. He passed away due to the after effects of heavy torture. He said one thing to Hye Ok’s mother before he died.
“You have to continue the work I could not finish.”
Since then Hye Ok’s family was labeled as « anti-regime family » and experienced indescribable sufferings. Hye Ok’s mother consolidated Hye Ok by saying, « Hye Ok, even we are sad and poor we have to give thanks. This is because the sufferings and poverty we have are also God’s work. »
As Hye Ok grew up, she started to actively help her mother on the work of spreading the gospel. Spreading the gospel in North Korea is always dangerous because people could always betray you. Hye Ok was also put to danger because someone from her village reported on her. Thinking that her arrest could endanger her mother as well, she crossed the Tuman River with a broken heart. Hye Ok is a wise girl and found us by herself.
Hye Ok decided to stay in our church and asked her mother many times to come to China with the help of the people she met in China. However, her mother refused every time.
“My Hye Ok ! Lord is here in North Korea too. So I will be here and spread the gospel. The believers here are all relying on me. I have nothing to wish for but your safety. .”
This is the last letter she received from her mother.
Secret Service in North Korea with 58 Believers
One day in September 2002, I set my feet on the North Korean soil for the first time. The believers who were notified that I was in North Korea gathered and we read the bible together. Although in low voice, we also sang praise song together.
“Praise Jesus~ Praise Jesus~”
Nobody knows when or where they learned it but they praised God with hand and body movements too.
“Teacher, come to see us even if it is once a month ! When you come we can gather like this and read the words and have a service.”
At the time I was with six believers. Now that few years have passed, I am with 59 believers of 6 churches in different places. In 00 region, 26 believers gathered and we hold a feast of worship. The believers always ask me to « visit often. » My tears roll down first before I open my mouth to answer.
Now the grace of God is also in North Korea. In order to remain with God, the fear of the most horrifying surfferings must be overcome. The God of grace is granting courage and hope to the believers.
A new history of God is now starting in North Korea.