Donate | VOM Resources

A Mom in Trouble and a Birthday

North Korean homes

When a fire broke out at a home in North Korea early last year, a mother who lived in the house raced inside to save her two children from the flames. The children were injured, but they got out safely.

Do you suppose the mother was honored as a hero? She was not. According to news reports, the government considered putting her in jail. While she was able to rescue her children, she did not have time to save the pictures of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il hanging on her wall.

Bowing to Statues and Guarding Pictures
North Korea is a communist country whose first ruler was Kim Il Sung. After he died, his son Kim Jong Il took his place. Then Kim Jong Il died, and his son Kim Jong Un is now the leader.

Christianity is against the law. But there are thousands of statues of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il all over North Korea. Citizens bow and offer gifts to the statues of the men. They are expected to give glory and honor to the former leaders as if they were gods. Laws require homes to display pictures of the dead men, and to guard the pictures carefully. The government does not think the mother who saved her children protected the pictures well enough.

At times is it difficult to know whether news from North Korea is true or not. But North Koreans who hear the story of the mother, whether it is true or not, will be reminded that the government wants them to honor the Kims and their photos and statues instead of worshiping the one true God.

Pray for North Korea
Kim Jong Un’s birthday is on January 8. He was born in 1984. So how old is he this year?

Pray for Kim Jong Un and his country on his birthday. Pray that he will understand the truth of the Good News of Jesus, and will not try to prevent his citizens from learning and following the truth.

Ten Sports from Around the World

Read about the 10 sports below. Then enter the name of a country where they are played in the Search box to learn more about life for Christians in those countries. Find ways to pray for the countries in The Voice of the Martyrs’ Global Prayer Guide.

Buzkashi is a favorite sport in Afghanistan. It is a difficult and dangerous sport played by two teams on horseback. As in football, the players try to get control of an object and take it to a scoring area. But the object is not a ball; it’s a dead, headless goat or calf. Players compete to win money and prizes, and some fans dream of seeing the sport played in the Olympics someday.

Langdi is a traditional game from India. Would you like to try it? Here are the basic rules. Two teams play on a square field. Players from one team stand in the square. The other team sends one player at a time into the square. That player must hop on one foot. Whoever is touched by the hopping player is out of the game. If the hopper puts his raised foot down, he is out and the teams change positions. The game is over when all the players on one team are out.

Kabaddi is another popular sport in India. The rules are similar to the rules of langdi. But in kabaddi, the “raider” who enters the opposing team’s territory must repeat the word “kabaddi” [kah-buh-dee] over and over as he tags players. His goal is to tag as many players as possible—all in one breath. If he takes a second breath, he is out of the game.

Children in Nepal play dhandi-biu [DAHN-dee byoo]. The equipment for the game includes a long, flat stick and a large seed or small stick. The seed (or small stick) is placed on the ground. A player hits the end of the seed with the long stick, flipping the seed into the air. When the seed flies up, the player then taps it lightly into the air two or more times with the long stick. On the last hit, the player hits the seed as far away as he can.

Cricket is somewhat like baseball. (See the photo above.) It is played mostly in countries that are British territories or used to be British territories. The bat looks a little like a boat oar. The fielders do not wear gloves. Unlike in baseball, after the “bowler” (pitcher) throws the ball, it may hit the ground and bounce up to the “batsman” (batter) before it is hit.

Kho Kho
Kho kho was invented in India. It is a form of tag played on a field between two teams. One team is the chasers and the other is the defenders. They switch roles after seven minutes. The team that tags out the defenders the quickest wins.

Chinlone is the national sport of Burma. Players stand in a circle. They try to keep a rattan ball (see the photo) in the air for as long as possible. The players may kick the ball up or pass it to another player with their feet or knees, but not with their hands.

Jaegi [JAY-ghee] is a Korean game similar to hacky sack. You can find instructions for making a jaegi here.

Netball is played in many countries, including Malaysia and Tanzania. It is a popular sport for women and girls. As in basketball, two teams try to shoot the ball through a hoop. But players do not dribble the ball. They may take only one step while holding the ball, and they must pass it to another player within a few seconds. Defenders who are trying to stop a player from shooting must stay at least three feet away from the player with the ball. The goal has no backboard.

Tent Pegging
According to legends from long ago, soldiers in some parts of the world had an unusual way of attacking enemy camps. While racing through the camp on horseback, the soldiers speared the pegs holding up their enemy’s tents, causing the tents to collapse. Perhaps that is how the sport of tent pegging began.

In modern tent pegging, players on horseback compete to see who can best draw a wooden block out of the ground with a sword or lance and carry it across a field. The sport is played in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and other countries.

Mrs. An Learns How to Pray

[Photo: Mrs. An. Her eyes are covered to protect her identity.]

Mrs. An was not a Christian. She grew up in North Korea, where the government does not want people to know God or to follow Jesus. Most North Koreans know nothing about Christianity.

But the North Korean government made a video to tell people that Christianity is bad and wrong. The video showed Christians praying to God. Mrs. An remembered what she saw on the video.

In China
Due to harsh conditions in North Korea, Mrs. An escaped to China. But China does not always welcome North Koreans to their country. The Chinese police put Mrs. An in jail.

A Christian must have been in her jail cell before she got there, because Mrs. An saw the name “Jesus” scratched on the cell wall. She remembered the Christians she had seen praying on the video.

In South Korea
Mrs. An decided to pray to the Christians’ God, asking Him to help her get out of jail and go to South Korea, a freer country. God answered her prayer! In South Korea, she sought Christians who could teach her to grow in faith. She is learning how to witness to her family and others around her.

The North Korean video was created to turn people against Christianity. Instead, it helped someone trust in Jesus!


To Think About
Genesis 5:20 says, “As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” How does the verse remind you of Mrs. An’s situation?

Robert Jermain Thomas

Elise Wixtrom writes reviews of VOM resources for readers of Enter “Elise” in the search box to read about Elise and to find more of her reviews. Read below her review of the Torchlighters DVD, The Robert Jermain Thomas Story. Find out more about Torchlighters DVDs here.

Robert Jermain Thomas, a Welshman living in the 1800s, felt called to become a missionary. However, the Protestant church at the time did not want him to go down that path. Instead, they wanted him to become a pastor and teach Christianity in Wales. He decided to go against their wishes and move to China. He learned Chinese so that he could teach the people in their own language. While learning Chinese, he realized that he had a true knack for languages.

[See a story here about children in Wales today watching a Torchlighters DVD.]

Robert Jermain Thomas’ wife died soon after their arrival in Shanghai. Thomas felt like he could no longer clearly see his purpose. So he took a job at a port-of-entry, taking passports from people traveling into China. While at that job, he discovered that the nation of Korea, very close to China, was closed off to any foreign influence, including religious influence. Here he saw an opportunity to bring the gospel to a people who would never otherwise hear it. There was a problem, though — travel into Korea as a foreigner was illegal. Thomas would have to sneak in.

He eventually made it into Korea, though the journey was difficult. While there, he began to preach the gospel with fervor, even though the introduction of new religion was illegal. Through him, Christ affected many lives for the better.

But the Korean authorities shot the ship he was on with flaming arrows and burned it down. It is unknown how the missionary aboard died — scholars debate whether by fire, drowning, or if he was killed onshore.

But we do know that the authorities killed him with the intent to stop the spread of the message of Jesus Christ in Korea. This did not work, though, because even today there is a thriving community of believers, stretching back all the way to the time when Robert Jermain Thomas originally brought the gospel. There is a story that says that the pages of the Bible that washed up onshore after Thomas’ death were used to wallpaper a Korean man’s home. When a small Christian community grew in the region, they came to read the Bible from the walls.

Though Robert Jermain Thomas’ time in Korea was short, God used his time there to change the lives of many generations of Koreans. Robert Jermain Thomas did what he could, but he let God do the rest.

*See a clip from The Robert Jermain Thomas Story DVD and links to other resources here.

An Unusual Love Story

Choon-yei grew up in a comfortable family in North Korea. Her father was a military officer, so the government took good care of them.

But when Choon-yei was a young child, a famine in North Korea brought suffering to even the most secure families. Then when she was teenager, both of her parents died.

First Trip
Choon-yei made two trips to China with friends to try to earn money. On the first trip, she met Christians who shared a Bible and the gospel with her. Choon-yei was fearful, because North Korean officials would punish her severely if they found out she had heard the gospel. The North Korean government wants citizens to look to them for help and guidance, not God. But she learned from the Christians in China, and she began praying as they taught her.

Second Trip
Choon-yei later traveled to China with another friend. But her friend betrayed her and sold her to a Chinese man to be his wife! Choon-yei did not know Chinese and had no way to escape back to North Korea, so she was trapped.

Many North Koreans are tricked into going to China and end up as slaves to mean and harsh husbands. But Choon-yei’s husband and his family were kind to her. When she wanted to escape from them and go to South Korea, they even gave her money to help her!

Choon-yei believes that God has always helped her since the Christians she met on her first trip to China began praying for her.

A Christian Marriage
In South Korea, Choon-yei began to miss her Chinese husband. He was honest and good, and he had taken good care of her. Thankfully, he was able to join her in South Korea, where he became a Christian. Choon-yei had also decided to follow Jesus. Together they go to church and are committed to having a Christian marriage.

“I am grateful for everything,” Choon-yei said. “I will be grateful if God uses my husband and me in any way.” They pray that more North Koreans will come to know their Savior.

(Source: The May 2020 The Voice of the Martyrs magazine. Edited and condensed for length and clarity. Photo: A Korean woman.)