Saved and Free
Not Enough Food
Several years ago, the North Korean government made new rules about the height of their soldiers. Before the new rules, North Koreans had to be at least 145 centimeters tall to be in the military. But many North Koreans are very short because they have never had enough to eat. The new rules said that soldiers had to be only 142 centimeters tall. That is about 4 feet 8 inches tall. (Laws in many U.S. states say that children have to ride in car booster seats until they are 4 feet 9 inches tall.) News reports say the height rules recently changed again, and now soldiers must be taller. But they still can be less than 5 feet tall.
Like many North Koreans, Lee Chul-ho was hungry, so he sneaked out of the country and went to China. There he met a missionary who helped him and shared the gospel with him. Chul-ho placed his faith in Christ, and he began sharing his new faith with other North Koreans in China.
Chinese border police caught Chul-ho twice and arrested him for helping illegal North Korean immigrants. The first time, he went to prison for three months. The second time, his sentence was 10 years. During his 10-year sentence, he began getting letters from Christians in the U.S. and other countries. Readers of The Voice of the Martyrs magazine sent letters, and they helped Chul-ho endure his time in prison.
[Visit prisoneralert.com to write a letter to a Christian in prison.]
A police officer in the prison noticed Chul-ho’s faithfulness to Christ and to North Korean people. The officer promised that if he were ever promoted in his job, he would save Chul-ho.
A Promise Kept
Chul-ho spent time in prison reading the Bible, learning the Chinese language, and teaching other prisoners about God. One day, Chinese officials took Chul-ho to the border of North Korea to send him back to his country. Chul-ho knew that North Korean officials would treat him badly, and maybe even kill him.
Two events saved his life. First, North Korea’s border office was closed due to the death of Kim Jong Il, the leader of the country at that time.
Can you guess what else saved Chul-ho?
An officer took him to an official in the Chinese Public Security office. The official was the man who had told Chul-ho several years earlier that he would save him if he ever got promoted! He kept his promise.
Now Chul-ho helps other North Koreans who have escaped his country. (Photo above: Chul-ho prepares care packages to share with North Korean defectors. To protect his identity, his face is not shown.)
“I believe that raising up a North Korean and helping that person become a disciple of Jesus is the only alternative for North Korea,” Chul-ho said.
To Talk About
How is Chul-ho’s story like the story of Joseph in Genesis 40 and 41? How is it different?