By Mark Ellis –
North Korea is the worst country in the world to be a Christian. If a believer’s faith is discovered by government authorities, most likely they would be sent to a labor camp or killed on the spot, according to the 2020 World Watch report by Open Doors.
In April 2019, Sister Younghee became a martyr for the faith in JS Prison. “This prison camp has been known to be notoriously harsh on Christians,” Peter Lee noted in an update from Cornerstone Ministries International. “It is known that camp inmates die there every day; many attempt to escape but most are caught and returned.
“Many of those caught are thrown to hungry hounds. Many are beaten or lose flesh to dogs; many recaptured prisoners die. Prison officers want camp inmates to see what happens when they try to escape,” he explained.
Sister Younghee received training from Cornerstone Ministries in China during five months in 2008. When she courageously returned to North Korea, she planted an underground church that grew to 12 people within a few years.
“As her church grew her risk of exposure also grew. Finally, she was exposed and sent to a political prison camp for an indefinite term,” Lee stated.
After she was sent to prison, Cornerstone Ministries lost contact with her. None of her family knew what happened to Younghee. Her children thought their mother was in China.
But a breakthrough came last year when a Christian worker affiliated with Cornerstone located Younghee’s prison camp. The worker, along with two of Younghee’s children, attempted to visit her at the prison on July 21, 2019.
Upon their arrival, prison officials informed them Younghee died three months earlier and her body had been cremated.
Then a remarkable exchange occurred between the visitors and a high-ranking prison official, who entered the reception room and saw the older daughter of Younghee.
“You must be the daughter of Younghee,” he exclaimed. “You look just like your mother.”
The visitors were momentarily taken aback. “I have never seen such a strong and honest woman as your mother,” he continued.
The official recounted an exchange he had with their deceased mother when he questioned her faith. “I told your mother, ‘I don’t understand why a person like you who is smart and lacks nothing believes in a God that we cannot see. If only you had denied your God, you would not have all this suffering. Don’t you regret being a Christian?
“I have never regretted my faith and I do not regret it even now,” Younghee replied.
The prison official told them he lightened Younghee’s workload at the end because her body was so weak. “But she was strong in her faith,” he told them. “She was always helping other prisoners…the whole prison knew that she was a Christian because she shared her food and other basic necessities with other prisoners. She was always comforting those who were lonely and in distress.
“She had the face of someone who lives in a different world.”
Then the prison official stood up and declared: “Even though it is hard to live in this world, you must live like your mother!” Then he dropped his voice and muttered, “Younghee was a genuine believer.”
As the three visitors left JS Prison, they could not help but wonder if the prison official had become a believer in Jesus after knowing Younghee.
How to Pray:
Please pray that Eun-hye, another believer in JS Prison, will be a shining light for Jesus to other prisoners and even prison officers.
Pray that God will give underground believers in North Korea his strength, power, wisdom and discernment in sharing the Good News of Jesus to other North Koreans.
Pray that more Bibles will be delivered and distributed among the secret believers.
Pray that the family members of Christian prisoners will keep their faith despite the mistreatment, torture, and persecution.
Pray that the families of the prisoners will be able to sustain their lives spiritually, emotionally, and financially.
Pray that God will open North Korea very soon to the freedom to worship Him and that the Kingdom of God will be restored.
For more about Cornerstone Ministries International, go here