Second Wave

North Korean Orphans: Lice and Other Curious Transactions

“Meena,” a North Korean orphan we support in our Second Wave program, came to English Camp this year with a short, boyish haircut. This was surprising to many of us because her personal style has always been very girly with lots of pastels and frills. She has had long hair for several years. We later found out that she had lice. Her caretakers think that she contracted it from school. She had to cut her hair just before camp started.

At English Camp, our annual, four-day retreat where we take many of the children in our programs out of the city and into the wilderness, 10-year-old Meena slept next to her counselor, a woman from the US.

After the team arrived back to the US, her counselor noticed little insects in her hair. She realized that she had contracted lice from little, sweet Meena. The counselor had to cut her hair too.

This exchange of lice expresses the beauty of our organization. Not only do we want to feed, shelter and pay for our children’s education, we want to love them intimately and try our best to provide the care that their parents would.

Meena’s mother was sold to her Chinese husband as the effects of the Great North Korean famine were still wreaking havoc on the country. In 2003, her mother fled her country illegally and was sold to the highest bidder. Their child, Meena, was born stateless. China did not recognize her as a citizen because of her mother’s status and North Korea did not recognize her because she was born in China.

When Meena was an infant, her mother escaped her life of enslavement and shortly after, Meena’s father left town to find work. This left Meena in the care of her aunt, who contracted an unknown disease that left half her body paralyzed in 2010.

There was no one to take care of her.

Crossing Borders took Meena in and has cared for her for about four years. During this time she has experienced the love and affection of her caretakers, a local pastor and his wife.

Our organization aims to love and care for North Korean orphans like Meena. We take pains to ensure that she grows up in an environment filled with love and affection. Like our mission statement says, we aim to “show the compassion of Christ to North Koreans and their children in China.” That is exactly what we are doing for Meena.

Every child has their moments of pain, times when they act out. This deeply wounded population of North Korean orphans have many scars from their past. Our people are there for these children to absorb their pain in exchange for love. We believe that this is what it means to show to compassion of Christ to these people.

Isaiah 53:5 says that Jesus “was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed.”

Just like the loving counselor who took on lice so that Meena could have someone to sleep next to at night, we believe that Christ has done the same for us a million times over.

When asked if she would do it all over again, knowing she would contract lice, our counselor did not hesitate to say, “Yes.”

Our caretakers do the same, daily. Our missionaries have given up a comfortable life in the West for close to a decade. Our staff and volunteers have given up their time, prayers, sweat and tears to make sure this organization is running.

At the heart of Crossing Borders is an attitude of sacrifice to show this love to the people we help.

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.