You would never be able to guess that “Kyung”, a North Korean refugee in our care, escaped a life of abuse and and suffering from her husband, who owned her as property. She has a dignity about her that transcends her recent past. You would also be unable to tell that her husband’s teenage son raped her repeatedly when her husband was away or that her husband’s family would beat her if she didn’t cook food the way they liked. North Korean refugees, though resilient, are hard to read. They have been trained by their government to keep their thoughts, feelings and emotions inside. If a North Korean shows any of their feelings, they might die.
We helped Kyung for over two years and for most of those two years she would say to us, “North Korea has the best government, they just need food.”
Our missionaries were baffled by her unyielding insistence that the North Korean government, with its crumbling infrastructure, famines, and oppression of both its own citizens and North Korean refugees, was the best.
Despite her convictions, we would frequently visit Kyung. We would sing with her. We would try to meet her where she was. Kyung's beliefs, we found, were unchanging as if engraved in stone. To her, the North Korean government was an immovable ideal. Her demeanor was impenetrable, her personal thoughts and feelings always shielded impassively even to our skilled missionaries.
It was in a meeting after two years of spending time with Kyung that the subject of government arose in a conversation between two visitors and a missionary who came to see Kyung. Having no knowledge of the thoughts Kyung had shared for so long, one of the visitors asked Kyung for her opinion of North Korea's leadership. All she said was, “North Korea just needs God.” She has held to this new belief since.
Progress in ministering to North Korean refugees is often measured in teaspoons. Bringing change to hardened hearts that have endured much suffering, lies, and pain is a slow process. Nonetheless, Crossing Borders is confident that through the slow work of caring for and loving North Korean refugees, there is change. This is not to speak of our own ability and skill. It is a testament to God's love and unyielding pursuit.
As Ezekiel 36:26 writes,
"And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh."
Please pray for us this week as we minister with the compassion of Christ to North Korean refugees who struggle to hold their burdens in hardened hearts. Please pray that God would wash away the lies and the struggle they have endured, allowing them to receive His love.