Child Sponsorship

Raising North Korean Orphans - Planning for the Future

"Byung Wook" was at home when his mother was dragged away by the police. He said he heard the police raid the home but was too afraid to come out of his room. When he came out the next morning, his mother was gone and his father was sitting on the floor in shock. This is how Byung Wook became a North Korean orphan. Byung Wook came to one of our group homes in 2009 and has struggled academically more than any other child in our network. His performance in school was so bad that his teachers refused to give him any tests to prevent him from bringing down the class average. They put little effort to bring Byung Wook up to speed in his studies and he spends most of his time in class sleeping.

Such is the challenge of raising an academically challenged child in China, where opportunities are harder to come by and it is harder to catch up if a child is behind.

Last year Crossing Borders received sobering results from the surveys we administered. One of the biggest things we learned was that our North Korean orphans are ill prepared for the future. Just 20 percent of our children have a realistic career plan with short, mid and long-term steps on how they will reach these goals.

This is something we can help with.

As our North Korean orphans grow into maturity, it is vital that we equip them with the tools they need to be self-sufficient. The average age of our children is now 12.5-years-old.

Thinking about career paths poses a challenge for our field staff, most of whom have been raised in a rural environment. It is difficult for them to see the importance of getting the right training to suit the type of career each child wants.

China is rapidly changing. Over the past 30 years the economy has shifted from a mostly agrarian economy to one that is highly industrialized. This means that the old way of obtaining and finding employment has been upended. Our workers need to be able to adjust so that our children can find meaningful employment and even be a benefit to the community at large.

It is also difficult for them to think about such things as they deal with the daily needs of the children. This is why we feel that it is vital for us to educate our caretakers and give them practical tools to help each child become productive members of society.

By the end of this year, we want to work with each child age 14 and older to have a clear and attainable career path. We will also work with their caretakers to make sure these plans are practical in the context in which each of these children live.

This is why we believe that it is necessary to deal with the challenges North Korean orphans face from an organizational standpoint. While our caretakers provide a stable, loving and nurturing environment for each child, Crossing Borders can come alongside these caretakers to provide additional help.

They say it takes a village to raise a child. It is a unique “village” that Crossing Borders has created. We connect donors from around the world with experts both in the U.S. and around the world to provide the love and care that each of these children need.

You can be a part of this community of help by sponsoring a child. Through our Child Sponsorship Program, you can donate $40 or $80 per month to provide for the needs of children in our network. Find out more here.

North Korean Orphans: An Impossible Question

We recently held our second annual English Camp for the North Korean orphans in our Second Wave ministry. The children in this ministry are born into forced marriages with Chinese men who purchased North Korean women, the children's mothers, as brides. The camp lasted a four days and a number of our children were able to attend. In this time we had the opportunity to teach them English and provide spiritual counseling. Most of the North Korean orphans in Second Wave have lost their mothers, who escaped to South Korea, were captured by the Chinese police to be sent back to a North Korean prison camp, or have run away from their repressive marriages.

One of the North Koreans, “Yung” attended camp. Yung was abandoned by her mother when she was three-years-old. Her mother left her on the day Yung had open-heart surgery, which was about six years ago.

During camp, one of our counselors was able to form a very close bond with Yung. Towards the end of the camp, Yung asked the counselor, “Can you be my new mom?”

The best way to describe Yung is spunky. She has a personality that compensates for her diminutive height. When we took her measurements, she fell well below the average 5th percentile for height and weight in her age group.

Yung lives with her father in rural Northeast China. We make frequent visits to her home, which out missionaries have described as a pigpen. In a recent visit in January, dirty dishes were strewn on their small living space and Yung was covered in ash from a poorly maintained, coal-burning heating system. She had a heavy cough.

She is loved and cared for by her father but her desire for her mother is obvious.

We teach our counselors to answer our children honestly, especially when they ask for the impossible, like Yung did this year. Our counselor answered, “I can’t be your mother but I want to see you again.”

Yung began making appointments immediately.

One of the purposes of our camp is to teach our North Korean orphans a language that can be very useful to them; it is also for the purpose of bringing the healing hope of the gospel to these children. We try to remind them that they are not forgotten but that there is a God who loves them and cares about them.

To sponsor a child like Yung, please visit our Child Sponsorship page.

Field Update: 8 North Korean Orphans

Recently, Crossing Borders took in eight new North Korean orphans into our Second Wave ministry, bringing the total number of children we help to 62. Through Second Wave, we help children of North Korean refugee women who have been sold as forced brides to Chinese men. The population of North Korean orphans is in the tens of thousands, according to experts.

Many of the children born into these forced marriages are separated from their mothers, making them orphans, according to the United Nations, who defines children who are missing one or both of their parents as orphans. Most of their mothers were captured by the Chinese police, sent back to North Korea, placed in concentration camps and never heard from again.

“Jung” is a 13-year-old boy we have recently taken in. He is the son of a North Korean refugee woman who had been sold to his father. His mother was captured by the Chinese police and sent back to North Korea when he was young. His father works far away in another region in China. Jung’s elderly grandmother is the only one able to take care of him but she is so old that she needs help with basic chores around their home. A neighborhood man comes to their home daily and helps.

Jung is autistic. He attends a school in the region for special needs children. He plays well by himself and has a keen interest in electronics and computers. He does not engage in conversations with other people but understands what is said when he is spoken to and can read out loud.

Jung was taken to church and his church laid hands on him to pray for him. He didn’t like this but over time he began to warm to the people there. Recently, he put his hand on a hymn and began to cry. Since that day, he enjoys being prayed for.

To find out how you can help children like Jung, go to our Child Sponsorship page.

Over the past two years, Crossing Borders has been able to nearly double the number of North Korean orphans we help because of the success of our Child Sponsorship program.