North Korean Newcomers
탈북 새신자 맞이
Where’s the best place to learn about the North Korean underground church?
While VOMK’s NK Newcomers project may look like a “mixed bag”—visiting prisons, hospitals, and the government resettlement facility every North Korean defector must pass through before entering South Korea—everything within it can be boiled down to a simple objective: Partnering with underground North Korean Christians by serving North Koreans wherever they are found—especially North Korean underground Christians.
At first glance, South Korean hospitals, prisons, and refugee resettlement centers sounds like an unusual place to look for underground North Korean Christians. How does the North Korean underground church benefit when VOMK connects with North Koreans in South Korea? The answer is that NK Newcomers project is a key component in a broader whole.
NK newcomers project is vital not only to training North Korean missionaries (VOMK strongly believes that the best missionaries to North Korea are the North Koreans themselves) but also to connecting with any North Koreans we knew in the field who defected (EDITOR NOTE: VOMK does not promote or support defection owing to the difficulties it causes the underground church). Within this quarter alone, we’ve met two familiar faces and both have connected with our ministry in very different ways. Further, we continue to find that about 30% of North Koreans coming to South Korea have a connection with Christianity prior to coming to South Korea.
 After connecting through NK Newcomers project, many North Korean defectors enroll in UT to learn more about Christianity
 Students who complete UT and wish to minister to their own people enroll in UU
 UU students and graduates conduct North Korean ministry wherever North Koreans can be found.
A young NK Newcomer
I met a young North Korean man Sunday who was newly arrived in South Korea. He had defected shortly after completing his mandatory ten year military service. He had caught my attention during the worship service where I was preaching because he held eye contact with me the entire time, had a warm and compassionate face, and showed a lot of calm and poise–traits not often found in North Koreans just beginning to make the adjustment to life outside of North Korea.
In our private conversation he showed unusual insight into English–also rare for North Koreans. He was not fluent, but he had certain phrases memorized (like “nice to meet you”). He looked at our
VOMK logo and read slowly, “Voice…of…the…Pilgrim…” (An insightful mis-reading!) He said today NKs all learn English, but in his day they would take the smartest students in middle school and teach them English, and that is where/how he learned.
In the military he had served as a border guard and used his position to do black market trade in cigarettes and rice. He clearly was very smart and fared well. He became a Christian shortly after arriving in South Korea, during his initial interrogation period, of all times. Since then he has been growing steadily week by week, even participating in daily morning prayer.
But now the smuggling story.
When the young man was a border guard along the river, a middle-aged North Korean woman came across the river on a raft made of inflatable inner tubes. She had a box that was labeled DVDs, but when he searched it he found six Bibles concealed on the bottom. When he saw these, he froze as if dead. He said all NK border guards are told, “If you see the Bible, you are dead,” which he as an intelligent young man understood to mean that if an NK soldier ever reported having seen Bibles, he himself would be heavily interrogated and watched. So in his panic he told the woman, “Never mention this in your life, and I will never mention it in my life,” and he let her in to North Korea with the Bibles.
This is a good reminder that God has his ways of moving hearts and arranging for Bibles to enter into North Korea. Human deception is rarely God’s way. God’s way involves transforming hearts in surprising fashion. The young man noted that before he became a Christian he had a lot of anxiety. Since he became a Christian, he has had a great peace and calm over him, which was evident to me.
He asked us about a dream he recently had. In the dream he overslept because he was watching Korean dramas. So in the dream he arrived late for the morning prayer service at church. He was supposed to have organized and prepared the worship bulletins, but when he showed up at 6:10, they were blowing freely down the hallway. I showed him James 1:5 and told him always to pray for the interpretation of dreams.
But as I prayed with him, I myself received the interpretation of his dream, which I expressed to the young man through the traditional Korean proverb, “You can’t catch two rabbits.” I told him about Jesus’ admonition that we cannot serve two masters. I explained that the Lord was showing him that he must overcome the temptation to seek both worldly success and Christian service, choosing instead to “seek first the kingdom of God.” The young man was struck by the interpretation, and I laid hands on him and prayed that God would make him a single-minded man in all his ways.
Perhaps you will join me in praying this for him as well.