Cake: A Doorway to a North Korean Orphan's Heart

"Chun Joo" is one of the North Korean orphans in Crossing Borders' Second Wave group homes. It was Chun Joo's birthday when our team visited her orphanage. They went to an American restaurant with her, which served chicken sandwiches and French fries, the closest  to Western food our staff had eaten in over a week. Chun Joo received some small gifts and a paper crown on her head. When the candles on her gaudy cake were lit, she began to cry. Chun Joo could have been crying because she remembered the home she came from. The house she lived in prior to being brought into our Second Wave network was described by Crossing Borders’ missionaries as a “pig sty” with “no space to walk.”

It could have been because she remembered, in this moment, witnessing her father abusing her North Korean mother repeatedly until she "looked like a panda bear." She may have been crying in part because her mother left her behind to flee from her father. Following her mother's departure, Chun Joo's father began to abuse his daughter as well.

Worried for her, wanting to comfort her, our staff asked Chun Joo why she was upset. Chun Joo simply replied that it was because she was happy.

Crossing Borders' team spent a week with Chun Joo and North Korean orphans like her in Northeast China teaching them English and about the gospel. She was very shy at first but with much effort and the work of God, she opened up and began sharing with our teachers. She participated in the activities. She even prayed with our staff.

Our team knew Chun Joos' story going into the camp before they even met her. She had experienced a very harsh and difficult life as a North Korean orphan in China. Her report, however, read, “... she has totally transformed from when we first met her. Where she was shy and sad, she now always has a smile on her face.”

In a few years this fragile little girl has gone from being frightened, nervous and hesitant to being a joyful, gentle young woman. When our summer team played games with her she would always be the first to laugh at her own mistakes. She formed close bonds wit h our volunteers.

The only thing that our team knew for sure as she sat silently crying was what she told us: that she was happy.

We pray that our North Korean orphans' happiness would not be based solely on exterior circumstances but because Jesus loves them and wants to share his compassion for them.