Fulfilled in Jesus

Our pilgrimage with our Beloved in Japan -- Yoko & Ramone on the journey with Jesus!

Thursday, October 07, 2004

A Gift from North Korea

The other day I sent out a call for prayer for some North Korean refugees in China who were taken by police and would likely be repatriated back to North Korea -- meaning that they faced torture, imprisonment and sometimes death. I wanted to be more specific so I looked up the story, but details got quickly confusing because there are so many North Korean refugees hiding in China who are trying to escape to safety (they're not safe in China) by entering foreign schools and embassies. I found three stories. The first is about how 29 refugees cut a hole in the fence of a Japanese school in order to take refuge on the safe ground at the mercy of the Japanese government. Later, five of the refugees were allowed to leave for an unnamed Asian country, and from there they'll likely go to their new home in South Korea. The second story I found is very sad, about 8 asylum seekers who went to an American school in Shanghai. The American school apparently did not have the necessary 'status' to protect them, and turned them over to the Chinese police according to regulations. Recently I read another report about some refugees taking shelter at a Canadian institution -- either an embassy, consulate or school, and the Canadian government was able to protect them, I believe, but I haven't found that story yet.

On Wednesday nights I work at Woody Hut, one of Osaka's two English conversation cafes. My boss there, Mr. Goto, is part of an NGO (non-governmental organization) that exists to help North Korean refugees hiding northern China.

Brad Glosserman writes: "It is estimated that there are 150,000 to 300,000 North Koreans, or more than 1 percent of the country's population, in China. They have fled their country to escape desperation and extreme poverty. Flight is not without risk: The North Korean penal code lists defection or attempted defection as a capital crime. Article 47 of the 1987 North Korean Criminal Code states that a defector who is returned to North Korea "shall be committed to a reform institution for not less than seven years. In cases where the person commits an extremely grave concern, he or she shall be given the death penalty." (Forcible return to North Korea, where as many as 2 million people may have died of starvation, is punishment enough.) Their families also face retribution and possible imprisonment."

I first took heart about North Korea when I passed a book in a store here called "The Aquariums of Pyongyang" ... the strange title caught me and then I read that the author is a man who spent 9 years in a North Korean concentration camp. Finally I bought a copy of the book and cried. He was imprisoned at age 9 with his family because of something his grandfather possibly did (his grandfather disappeared so they'll never really know), and only his mother was not sent to prison, though she wanted to go. After being released and returning to normal life, the author eventually escaped to South Korea by way of China.

At Woody Hut, Mr. Goto sells these little knit cloths (zabuton covers) that some of the refugees make because they want to give something back instead of receiving help for nothing. That's the picture I posted above. The knit covers sell for five dollars (five hundred yen). The five dollars then are used to buy 22 pounds (10 kg) of rice.

I took one back with me when I visited California in August. I had casually hoped God would let me give it to someone who could receive His heart for His children there in North Korea and hiding in China. Though I did not directly ask Him, He gave me someone to give it to (Did you ever notice that we sometimes say we're asking Him but we really don't sit down to wait in His presence and ask Him?). I had forgotten about a Korean friend of mine until I visited his room and talked with him, and he shared with me that he has a heart for the North and that it's one of his dreams to maybe someday go there and share Jesus if he's still single then. I knew he was the one, and so I later gave him the knit cloth and told him about it. We were both moved by love and by God's heart, and we didn't know what to say. I'm never going to forget giving that to him.

If you'd like to know and pray more, please get together with two or three in His name and ask for His heart for North Koreans. His Spirit moves me as I write this, and I suddenly cannot stop weeping because His heart is so great for His children! There is more information at CSW - Christian Solidarity Worldwide's homepage on North Korea. They have resources and things to help you pray. I don't know what to do next or how to help, but I'm listening to His Spirit lead me through His heart.


  • At October 09, 2004 11:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    It's really wonderful to read of God's hand moving in what is now North Korea in the past. In the book "Jesus Freaks" you can read about the first missionary to North Korea, who did not see a single convert before being martyred. His Bible's pages surfaced later as someone's wallpaper, and there people began to meet to read the words of the Life, and they began to meet Him there regularly as revival continued.

    In 1907 there began a major revival in Pyongyang, characterized by the fervent prayer. It was there that people encountered God so strongly that they began individually praying and crying out loud to Him at the same time. This beautiful harmony (united by the Holy Spirit) is now known as "Korean style prayer" ... "tong-song gi-doh". (Thanks to Leo Rhee from Living Life journal, Sept. 2004 for the info on the 1907 Pyongyang revival).

    God bless you as you seek Him!


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