North Korean Newcomers
탈북 새신자 맞이
Many North Korean defectors in South Korea can easily feel like they are forgotten, like the world has thrown them away. However, through the NK newcomers project, God visits the lonely, provides parents to the orphans, and demonstrates his mercy to those who cry out to Him. Even though some of the NKs we meet have been in South Korea for a while, through the NK newcomers project God shows them that, although the world may have forsaken them, He has not forgotten them.
MEETING NORTH KOREANS IN THE COMMON PLACES
As we make a transition to a more decentralized and underground format for our two North Korean training schools, we have found that Christ has been faithful to give us an increase of good fruit despite the difficulties that coronavirus restrictions and our transition period have brought. One of the ways that we are seeing good fruit being born is in the area of meeting new North Koreans.
For many years, one of the main ways through which we have connected with new North Koreans is through our ‘Office Parties’. We would have our UU and UT students prepare North Korean food and invite North Koreans from their sphere of influence to come eat together and experience a UU/UT class at our office. This would serve as one of the main ways to recruit new UU/UT students. But, now our UU/UT classes don’t happen in a classroom. They happen as we meet our students in the common places of their and our daily lives like hospitals, houses, campgrounds, and birthday parties. We are finding that we don’t need to ask our students to invite their friends and acquaintances to a party, because we end up meeting them anyways in these places.
Here are two stories of people we have met recently.
In the beginning of the year, one of our UU students asked if we could take our camping car to go visit a friend of a friend of hers, GSK, who lives in the countryside. As soon as we agreed to visit her, we began to face fierce spiritual opposition against the trip. When we made the initial appointment, a conflict caused us to move the appointment to a later date. Then our camping car got totaled, so we decided to impose upon her and meet in her house on a certain day. But our NK co-worker who was scheduled to go with us on the trip became sick, so we had to push the date back even further.
A few days before our rescheduled meeting, we asked GSK to meet us by the bus stop, but she became fed up and said that her legs hurt and that she could not walk to the bus station. Then, she wouldn’t answer her phone or respond to text messages.
We affirmed together with the students that whenever we try to deliver God’s word, the enemy tries to prevent it. We turned to God in prayer to touch GSK’s heart, since there was nothing else that we could do. We decided that we were going to go on the trip no matter what, even if we didn’t have anybody to meet.
One of our UT students is a theological university student. She was invited to share her testimony during chapel one day, so she invited our staff to come join the worship service and support her. There, our staff also met a young North Korean couple, Mr. Sun and his wife, fellow students at the university who started a small ‘North Korean prayer club’ in the school. Our staff member was invited to a Lunar New Year’s party at their house and, in turn, invited the couple to his own house. Recently, the couple was able to join one of our camping trips and was impacted by the experience.
When Mr. Sun was in North Korea, he suffered burn wounds as he risked his life to save a portrait of Kim Il-Sung from a burning building. Now that he is studying in seminary, he thinks it is funny that God is using him, who was such a fervent idol-worshiper, to study to become a pastor. As he reflects on North Korean society, he finds many things that he believes the North Korean government adopted from Christianity. He said, “Did you know that North Korea has morning prayer, too? Everybody goes out early in the morning to bow to a statue of Kim Il-Sung!”
One of our UU graduates connected us with an elderly deacon, Mrs. Choi, who was an underground Christian when she was in North Korea. Her house had a leak, so she didn’t want to meet there. So, we invited her to our office, but her foot is hurt, so she suggested that we go for a walk in the park near her house and sit on a bench to talk, instead. Mrs. Choi helped us to understand better about the lives of North Korean underground Christians more toward the beginning of the formation of the DPRK.
Mrs. Choi’s family and many relatives were underground Christians in the region of North Korea ever since before the Korean war. The 38th parallel was drawn right as her family tried to flee to South Korea during the war, so some family members made it to South Korea, and some could not. In fact, the underground Christian group she was a part of referred to themselves as ‘the people who couldn’t go down’.
She can recall that, when she was young, walking into a room and seeing the adults bowing. She didn’t know what to do, so her mother pushed her head down and made her bow also. When she was older, one of her family members was discovered to be worshiping with a number of other underground Christians. One of the members in the group was a spy and reported the act to the police. During that time, the policy of guilt by association had not been entirely implemented yet, so only those who were caught in the act of worshiping were arrested and executed and not their family members. All were put to death, that is, except for the spy. At that time, the government did not execute them on vague charges of being ‘political criminals’ as they might do today, but sentenced them to death by firing squad as ‘Jesus Freaks’.
Prayer Requests for this project:
- Pray for North Korean defectors who are caught in cults: Cults and pyramid schemes often target North Korean defectors because North Korean defectors are used to grassroots networking and business. Please pray for God to bring North Korean defectors out of cults and into the true light of Jesus Christ.
- Pray for NK underground Christians in South Korea: Many times, when North Korean underground Christians come to South Korea, they can be exploited by churches and organizations or seen as a novelty. However, it is not often that their experience is held up for emulation in the lives of South Korean Christians and, instead, they are seen as an object of pity. Please pray that VOMK and other organizations and churches can humbly serve as platforms for these believers to influence Christians in South Korea.