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A Pencil Gets Courage

North Korea

Pencil was scared. His three friends, Eraser, Paper Clip, and Pen, had just been arrested. Pencil and his friends were Christians in North Korea. The North Korean government has harsh rules to control the activities of believers. The three Christians were arrested for sharing the gospel.

Pencil was a Christian too, but he was too shy and scared to share his faith. When he tried, his mouth became dry, his hands shook, and he couldn’t make the words come out of his mouth. He was even more fearful after his friends were arrested.

Pencil and his friends had learned about Jesus from a Chinese Christian worker. The Christian encouraged them to use nicknames to make it harder for the police to know who they really were. So the friends had chosen the names of school supplies for their nicknames.

After his friends were arrested, Pencil went to visit the Chinese Christian. “I want to learn to be brave,” Pencil told him. The worker spent two months teaching Pencil about sharing the Gospel. Pencil listened well. (See the photo above of Pencil with North Korean Christians. The faces of two of them are covered in the photos to protect their identity. They are still in North Korea.)

Pencil began boldly sharing his faith with other North Koreans. Then he, too, was arrested.

The police offered to let Pencil go free if he said he did not believe in Jesus anymore. “I have invited Jesus into my heart,” said Pencil boldly to the police. “I cannot deny Him.”

The police sent Pencil to prison, and told the guards not to give him any food, but to make him work hard. Pencil shared stories of Jesus with many prisoners and guards as he got weaker. Many believed and followed Christ.

Sadly, Pencil died from the lack of food and from harsh treatment in the prison. He was still a teenager when he died. The Bible promises that “overcomers” like Pencil will walk with Jesus in heaven, and Jesus will speak their name before God and angels (Revelation 3:4–5, NIV). “Jesus is with me,” Pencil once said to the police when he was alive on earth. Now he is with Jesus forever in heaven.

Not the End of the Story
After Pencil died, one of his prison guards knocked at the door of some Christians in North Korea. “Since the death of this young man, I have been troubled,” the guard said to the Christians. The Christians led the guard to Christ, then they accepted an invitation to his home.

The guard asked the Christians to share the gospel with his family and friends. The Christians told the North Koreans about the way to God through Jesus. The guard was surprised when his own mother admitted that she had been a secret Christian for 50 years! She, like Pencil, was afraid to share her faith.

Because of the courage Jesus gave Pencil to witness for Him, a house full of North Koreans was baptized that night. No one knows what happened to Pencil’s three friends who encouraged Pencil by their example. But Jesus is also with them and with other North Korean Christians, wherever they are.




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