Next Steps: Reaching back to move forward

Second Wave is a program Crossing Borders operates to show the compassion of Christ to the children of North Korean refugee women. According to a US Government report, 70 percent of all North Korean refugees are women and 80 percent of them have been trafficked.

Let’s do the math here. If there have been an estimated 500,000 North Korean refugees who have fled to China since the famine, then approximately 350,000 of them are women. This means that 245,000 North Korean women have been sold in China.

An important fact to remember, that helps us understand this astonishing statistic, is that every North Korean refugee in China is an outlaw. China denies these people the most basic human rights, even though the country signed the UNHCR Refugee Convention of 1951. It is illegal to help a North Korean refugee, according to Chinese law. North Korean refugees are hunted down, arrested and deported to North Korea and sent to prison camps where they face torture and possible execution.

This leaves many children who have been born to North Korean mothers at risk. Many of these children have had mothers stolen away from them at the hands of Chinese authorities.

When Jong was about 6 years old, his mother was captured by Chinese officers and has not  been heard from since. He vaguely remembers what his mother looks like. He is in his teens now.

Jong’s father is a farmer and walks with a limp in one leg. His father has had brain surgery in the past, and is very forgetful. Because Jong’s father is not able to take care of him, Jong was brought to a Crossing Borders group home and has been under our care since.

Jong is a kind-hearted boy, who often looks for the approval of his caretaker, teachers, and other adults. He has often struggled in school, and has been described as slow by his teachers. Because of this, he has lacked effort and interest in his studies in the past.

However, Jong’s attitude changed last year, when two new boys were brought into his group home. Jong was told that he had to serve as an example for these two younger children and he took this call to action to heart. This past year, he has been much more studious and has been making better grades at school.

On a visit to China by our team last winter, Jong was found in his bedroom studying by himself while the rest of this housemates were playing games.

This summer, Crossing Borders sent a team to run a camp for children in our Second Wave program. During free time, the counselors reserved a room where children could talk to counselors about their problems and ask for prayers.

Jong met with one of our team members  and shared that he was beginning to remember his mother. Memories of her come in brief flashes but had a powerful impact on him. As the counselor prayed for him, Jong cried. For the first time in his life, Jong realized he really missed his mother, and wished he could be with her.

Crossing Borders understands that though progress and healing is underway, some of  the wounds in the hearts of these children are deep and often suppressed. China is a land of progress and many children are encouraged to forget painful memories from their past and work toward a brighter future. But in our work, Crossing Borders has found that sometimes, this isn’t possible. For children like Jong, old wounds come back regardless of how much a child tries to stifle them.

At the heart of Crossing Borders’ work is an effort to give these children an avenue to express their pain and to teach them to deal with it through principles taught in the Bible. This is our primary task as an organization in the face of such hardship. As we add programs and structure, this will not change.

What will become of Jong depends upon how he can process these old memories. It is our hope that he would be able to do so in a healthy, productive way and that he would be ready for whatever life throws at him.

This story can be found in our Newsletter, which was published last week. To get a copy of our newsletter, click on this link and sign up.