Published on March 1st, 2017
Parents and Teachers: The March 2017 issue of The Voice of the Martyrs magazine features stories about bold North Korean believers. Please preview the stories before sharing them with your children or class. Or share stories from this site, like the one below, with your children; then pray together for the people in the stories. (Subscribe to the magazine here.)
One night, five police officers burst into a two-room home in North Korea. Sixteen-year-old Hae-won and her family lived with her grandfathers in the tiny house. The police scattered the family’s belongings everywhere as they searched for — what?
“What could they be looking for?” Hae-won wondered.
After their rude search, the police ordered Hae-won’s grandfather’s arrest. But instead of taking her grandfather to prison, they took her father! In North Korea, entire families can be punished if the government doesn’t like the activities of one family member. After Hae-won’s father was imprisoned, the government sent Hae-won and the rest of her family to live in a mountain region far away.
Hae-won did not understand what was happening to her family. And there were other things she didn’t understand. Something unusual had happened when she was 10. She woke up in the middle of the night and found her grandfather sitting on the floor with his eyes closed. Was he talking to someone invisible? Hae-won didn’t know.
Sometimes she heard her grandfathers talk about “the Resurrection,” or “the Second Coming,” or “the Red Sea.”
“Silly old men talking nonsense,” she thought.
After Hae-won grew up and had a family of her own, she decided, like many North Koreans, to escape from her country. Conditions were harsh in North Korea, and often there was not enough food to eat.
Hae-won’s family faced many dangers and obstacles during their attempts to leave — they were even imprisoned for several months for trying to flee the country. Sadly, Hae-won’s husband died from the cruel treatment in the prison.
Hae-won continued trying to get out. She finally succeeded in escaping to China, where a Christian invited her to church. Soon she trusted in Christ as her Savior. As Hae-won read the Bible and learned more about God, many mysteries were solved for her. She realized that her grandfather was praying to God when she discovered him in the middle of the night. He was a secret Christian! It was not legal to follow Jesus in North Korea, so Christians practiced their faith quietly.
Hae-won now understood that her grandfathers had not been talking nonsense, but were discussing the Bible. And the police had searched their home for a Bible. North Koreans can go to jail just for owning one.
Today Hae-won lives in South Korea. She teaches others who have escaped North Korea about Jesus. Many who leave North Korea also have childhood mysteries to solve.
Hae-won is thankful for her grandfather’s faithful secret prayers. She told VOM workers, “I realized that I came to Christ because of my grandfather’s prayers.”
(Source: VOM contacts. Edited for clarity, length, and age-appropriateness.)