Staff Notes: Defending the Fatherless - North Korean Orphans

The following post was written by Crossing Borders volunteer staff: There are an estimated 40,000 North Korean orphans in China. The numbers are staggering and it seems there is nothing we can do that would make any difference. "I am only one person!" we cry out, "What can I do?"

According to UNICEF, 21,000 children still die each day of preventable causes. Their mission is "to do whatever it takes to make that number zero by giving children the essentials for a safe and healthy childhood, including health care, clean water, nutrition, education, protection, emergency relief and more." By their definition, an orphan is a child who has lost one or both parents.

There were over 132 million orphans in sub-Saharan Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean in 2005. It is estimated that there are 143 million to 210 million orphans worldwide. Out of the millions of children orphaned, only 250,000 children are adopted annually, and those who are not adopted are institutionalized until the age of at 18. Ten percent commit suicide. Sixty percent of girls become prostitutes and 70 percent of boys become criminals. As we see the global perspective, we understand that North Korean orphans are a part of a much more shocking picture.

Chicago, where Crossing Borders is based, is the main national hub for human trafficking. Every day there is someone walking through the arrival gates of O'Hare International Airport who is being trafficked. Every year 325,000 children are trafficked in the United States of America and the prime age of sex trafficked children between the ages of nine and 17. Human trafficking is so popular among criminal business groups because a human being can be sold over and over, where as guns and drugs are perishable commodities that can only be sold once. These things also cost money to obtain and produce, where as human beings can be kidnapped and traded like chattel.

Protecting children is something we can all do without breaking the bank. Volunteering at your local school or becoming a foster parent can protect them from the hands of abuse. If this is too much, you can be a safe house, where children stay in your home for a week to a month at a time. This program allows parents who lack in resources to place their children under that care of someone who will be able to help provide for them while they look for jobs or get their life situated. This program also allows the parent to receive their children back into their embrace without potentially losing their children to the State.

You can also support organizations that focus on children. Crossing Borders supports and provides holistic care for the North Korean orphans in the care of their Second Wave program. Other organizations such as UNICEF or your local adoption agency can also help you to work in defending the weak and fatherless.

“Defend the cause of the weak and the fatherless; Maintain the rights of the poor and oppressed.  Deliver the weak and needy from the hand of the wicked.”

- Psalm 82:3-4

Staff Notes: A North Korean Refugee Mother's Heart

The following post was written by Crossing Borders volunteer staff: Ever since the birth of our first biological child Lila, my “mother’s heart” has been unusually sensitive to the difficult situations faced by mothers who have had to give up their children. Our second child Chloe was adopted from South Korea at the age of 14 months. She is now almost four years old and we cannot imagine our family without her. But at the same time I know that somewhere in Korea there is a mother who is wondering where her daughter is, how she looks, what she’s thinking and whether she’s safe and happy in her new life.  When I look at Lila, I can’t imagine how it must feel to give up the child you have carried in your womb for nine months and given birth to, and not know what is going to happen to her. And yet I know because of their life circumstances, whether it is poverty, abuse, or lack of family support, many mothers know that they are making a choice for their children to have a better life than they believed they could provide.

Thinking about the North Korean refugee mothers we assist through Crossing Borders, I often wonder if they have contemplated the same thoughts and worries. Though their lives may be vastly different than those of unwed teenagers or single mothers in South Korea, their stories are also the stories of heartbreak, of loss, and of families torn apart by factors beyond their control. What could possibly have gone through refugee mothers' minds as they made the perilous decision to cross the Tumen River, often leaving behind their youngest children in the hope of finding work or food in China, and hoping that they would soon be able to return? How must their hearts have sunk as they saw those hopes unravel when they were captured by sex traffickers and sold like property to men whose language they did not understand, trading one life of starvation and oppression in North Korea for one of fear and despair in China? And how did they feel when they bore new children and began cobbling together another life, only to be forced to run away for their safety and their children’s safety when they could no longer endure the abuse of their new “husbands”?

Though as varied and complicated as each individual experience may be, as a mother my guess is that one thing remains in common for them. These North Korean refugee mothers haven’t forgotten. They haven’t forgotten the daughter or the son they left behind. Although consciously they may no longer think of them daily, in their mother’s heart I am sure there is an emptiness that remains. And even if they are so numb that they cannot remember, I know that God remembers each orphan and abandoned child left in North Korea or China, and He loves them and cares for them as His own.

As some of the North Korean orphans in our Second Wave shelters recently studied during their devotions, the Word of God says,

Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me” (Psalm 27:10).

Below, in their own words, are some of the responses expressed by the children after studying this Scripture:

My parents gave me a life. But God who created me is my true parent. My parents have forsaken me.  But Jehovah God receives me eternally. I will truly pray to Him and praise Him. I want to be His joy.

My parents forsake me but God did not forsake me.  He sent me to Pastor to raise a faithful person. I give thanks to God. I will praise Him and go to heaven.

Please help us as we continue to pray over not only our orphans, but the North Korean refugee mothers who are not with them.


Prayer for North Korean Refugees: Unsung Heroes (Part II)

It seems at times presumptuous to ask North Korean refugees to cast their significant burdens to Jesus when many of us live in safe, comfortable homes far from their everyday struggle. What right do we have to tell them how to live when we cannot fathom the pain and suffering they have and continue to experience? Similarly, how can our American staff challenge local staff members in China to live out their calling to the gospel from our ivory towers in the Western world? Can we call these individuals, who are already heroes in our eyes, to continue to give more of themselves to serve God? Do we have any moral ground to stand on?

Crossing Borders' leaders have been discussing this question as the organization looks to its ongoing and future efforts. Sacrifice is intrinsic in the work that Crossing Borders does. We have to ask people to give. We have to ask people to take some very dangerous risks.

However, after much consideration of these factors, we have concluded that the staff of Crossing Borders does have the right to continue to call others to both submission before Christ and sacrifice to God.

This is why:

Looking to our staff in the US, we realize as an organization that many have made some incredible sacrifices in their lives to follow their gospel call.

This past weekend a couple on staff brought home a beautiful 16-month-old boy from South Korea. They didn’t do this to fill a selfish need but because they felt called by God’s Word to do so. They are the second couple on our staff to adopt.

Last year a staff member took an unpaid leave from his job in IT to help out with our project in China. He didn’t know if he would be able to keep his job but he did it anyway to further our ministry potential.

A few years back, when Crossing Borders was running a deficit, two of our directors took out loans to cover our expenses for the year, not knowing if they would ever be paid back. Both directors had families and children to care for.

We see an incredible amount of sacrifice from our volunteers and staff in the US. They have full-time jobs. They all are active members of their churches. They have people in their own lives they must support and uphold. Yet they still sacrifice on behalf of our mission. They give their time and finances to the will of God and His given conviction to serve North Korean refugees and their children.

What right do we have to ask North Korean refugees and our Chinese staff workers to follow God’s call? It’s because we have so many here in the comfort of the most prosperous country in the world who still demonstrate what it means to give their lives to the Lord in service of His kingdom. We will not be an organization that does not lead by example, and we will continue to pray that as we call others to submission to Christ, our hearts and lives will be examples of submission.

I believe that it is this heart of sacrifice to God that has carried our ministry for the past 10 years. In the next 10 years, we believe we will be called to give even more to the Lord.

Please pray for Crossing Borders - for our staff and leaders in the United States who offer their lives to the Lord, for hearts of sacrifice. We also pray for humility in our work for Christ. We hope that this message to you will not be read as a post of worldly boasting, but as a declaration of our joy and pride as we see so many volunteers and staff a part of our work dedicated to glorifying God in their lives and in the lives of North Korean refugees.