stateless children

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.

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.

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.