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Stef’s Riddle

Give Thanks

The story below comes from Stef, the children’s publication of SDOK, The Voice of the Martyrs’ sister mission in the Netherlands. The story is told from the point of view of a boy in the Netherlands.

I’m bored and not just a little bit. My sister is doing something only girls like, my dad is at work, and my mom has been cleaning the attic for hours. When I see the mess in the attic, I don’t think she will have time for me the rest of the week. But I’m going to try.

“Mom! I’m bored!” I yell. “Good!” Mom answers from behind a stack of rubbish. “You have time to think about God!”

I must look puzzled. Mom is laughing and flipping through a booklet. Ah, that’s why cleaning takes so long.

It is a booklet about kids who say special things about God. She hands me the booklet and points to a story that tells what a dad said to a kid who was bored.

The dad told the kid a riddle. I have heard the riddle somewhere before, but I am curious about the answer, so I read the story.

The riddle goes like this: A man on a river bank has a wolf, a lamb, and a cabbage. He wants to get them safely on the other bank. He is only allowed to take one at a time in his boat.

If he takes the wolf first, the lamb will eat the cabbage. If he takes the cabbage first, the wolf will eat the lamb. He could take the lamb first, but on the next crossing, he will have to take either the wolf or the cabbage. In both cases, one of the objects would be eaten on the other shore unless the man stayed with them to prevent it.

A girl in the book offered this solution to the riddle: “We should pray for Jesus to return, because when He does, the wolf and the lamb will be friends (Isaiah 11:6). The cabbage will be safe, too, because the kingdom of God is not a matter of food and drink (Romans 14:17).

I think the girl had a good answer. I read it out loud to mom.

“Indeed,” Mom says. “Hopefully it will happen soon, and then there will be no more sad things like the kidnapping of Christians in Nigeria and people put in prison in North Korea.”

Being Bored Is Good
Mom and I are quiet together. Then Mom says, “I’m glad you are bored. Now we have time to think about God together.”

Note: The answer to the riddle is as follows. On his first trip across the river, the man takes the lamb. The wolf and the cabbage stay behind. The man returns alone and takes the cabbage on his second trip across. He leaves the cabbage and puts the lamb back in his boat. He takes the lamb back, leaves it, and picks up the wolf. He leaves the wolf across the river with the cabbage, and returns and gets the lamb. Soon all three are safely with the man on the opposite shore.

North Korea: First Words

North Korean baby

What were the first words you learned as a baby? “Mama” or “Dada” are the first words of many babies.

“But that’s not really good in North Korea,” said Dr. Eric Foley, the president of VOM-Korea.

The government of North Korea expects people to follow the teachings of Juche (JOO-chay). Juche teaches that human beings are the masters of everything. (Learn more about Juche here.)

Citizens of North Korea must honor:
*Kim Il Sung, North Korea’s first leader, who died in 1994
*Kim Jong Il, Kim Il Sung’s son, who died in 2011
*And Kim Jong Un, Kim Il Sung’s grandson, who now leads the country.

According to Dr. Foley, 43,000 centers across North Korea teach Juche beliefs. And 100 percent of the people must be involved in honoring the leaders. Following Christ is not allowed.

So, if a North Korean baby’s first words are something like mama or dada, the baby’s parents might keep it secret. They don’t want government officials to think their family members are more important to them than the Kim family. If friends ask about the baby’s first words, the parents will often not tell the truth. They will say, instead, that the baby’s words were words from Juche teachings.


Pray that North Korean babies will learn that Jesus loves them.

No Longer Robots

North Korea

(Source: Kids of Courage archives)

Background: In North Korea, the government tries to control every activity. Sometimes the people seem like robots. Children in North Korea wake up to speeches played over loudspeakers. The speeches praise North Korea’s leaders. Children march to school where they memorize more about their leaders in their school subjects. Before meals, the children salute a picture of the leader and thank him for their food.

Many leave North Korea to look for food and freedom. Christians in China secretly care for North Koreans and protect them from people who want to send them back to North Korea.

Mr. Choi is a Chinese Christian who helps care for the children when he visits them. He told the following story.

Mr. Choi’s Story
When I arrived, the children sang “Jesus Loves Me,” which they had recently learned from the Christians who take care of them. They said grace before our meal. At bedtime, they read a Bible story.

But something was not right. They were singing, praying, and reading like robots. They could not stop acting like they had been taught to act in North Korea.

At the safe house, some of the children were orphans, and others had come to China alone without their families. But they did not cry. I held their hands and sang to them. Then I began to pray for them aloud. I prayed from my heart, not like a robot.

“Is it really okay to pray like that?” one boy asked.

“Yes, of course,” I answered. “God is my Father! I can tell Him anything.”

Slowly they began to understand. Then they started to cry. “What would you like to tell God?” I asked.

“God, it hurts,” prayed one girl who missed her family. “I want to see my family again,” another prayed.

The children in the safe house continued learning how to pray to God as their Father. Now they understand that He can comfort them when they are sad. They know that they do not have to act like robots for their heavenly Father to love them. Please pray for them and for those still in North Korea who do not yet know the truth.

Discussion Suggestions for Classes

  • Who told the North Korean children about Jesus?
  • What might it look like if you sang a song like a robot? (Teachers and Parents: Encourage the children to sing a simple secular song, rather than a Christian song, so they will not appear to be mocking Christian principles in any way.)
  • Do you pray before you eat? Are your mealtime and bedtime prayers from your heart, or do you ever pray like a robot?

North Korea: Crossing the Border Game

Some North Koreans try to escape their country by crossing a frozen river in the winter. Guards watch the river to try to stop anyone from escaping.

Guards in some countries also try to keep people from sneaking into their country, especially if they are carrying Bibles. The governments of some countries do not want their citizens to learn about Jesus. Christians in one place found a way to take Bibles into those countries in the winter. Guards near the border looked for footprints in the snow. They sent attack dogs in the direction of the footprints. So the Christians walked backwards in the snow at night to take Bibles into the countries that did not allow Bibles. When border guards looked down at the footprints from their towers in the morning, they sent their search dogs in the wrong direction!

How to Play
Divide into two teams with an equal number of players. Give each team a bag of three or four books. Make a starting line and a finish line several yards apart. Line up the teams behind the starting line. When a leader says, “Go,” the first player on each team walks/runs backwards to the finish line, carrying the bag of books. The player drops the books behind him beyond the finish line. The second player walks/runs backwards to the books, picks them up without turning around, then runs back to the starting line. Play continues until all the players on one team have finished the task. That team wins.

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 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?