toilet paper

Prayer for North Korean Orphans: A Process of Healing

In the past two weeks, Crossing Borders has been in constant motion as we opened booths at the Glenview Farmers Market and the GKYM conference. Because of this opportunity, we were able to share and speak to many people about North Korean orphans and refugees we serve. In response, we are overwhelmed by the interest, support and generosity many of you have shown toward our ministry and thank everyone who took the time to speak with us. Thank you for making our booths a success and we hope to be connecting with you in person again soon. As you pray with us this week we ask that you lift up our North Korean orphans and refugees who have, over time, displayed a miraculous process in healing from their traumatic experiences. We know that this has only been possible with the work of God and every one of us at Crossing Borders can speak to witnessing God's hands in the lives of many of the refugees and orphans we help.

We recognize, however, that this transformation through healing is an ongoing process. It is also one that often takes much time to nurture and develop. As God works powerfully, quickly or slowly, in the lives of the North Korean orphans and refugees we support, we ask know that prayer is an essential and critical need for their building strength.

On this note, we would like to share with you an interview conducted with one of the resilient and growing North Korean orphans in our care in the Second Wave program. As you will read from his experiences, he is one of the many refugee children in China who have felt the hurt and pain present in this world's brokenness.


How was when you lived with your mom and dad together?

That was my happiest time. I liked that time.

Was your dad nice to you and your mom?

My dad loved me. He was very short and tiny and he liked me because I looked like him. He cooked fish for me. My dad and mom fought only one time.

What happened to him?

He died in a car accident when I was six. He drove a truck.

Then how did you and your mom live?

My uncle (dad’s big brother) took me and my mom to his house. My uncle hit my mom all the time, every day. My dad never hit my mom.

Were you scared?

I was scared of my uncle. He sometimes beat me too, for no reason. Oh, yeah, when he was drunk he got crazy and looked scary. My mom left me there and ran away by herself because my uncle hit her badly. I saw blood on her face.

So, you lived with your uncle? How long?

I lived at uncle’s house for long time. I didn’t like my mom because she left me there. He had a 20 years old son who was a disabled, he couldn’t walk, sitting all the time. I had three uncles and seven cousins, all were grown up boys. I liked 6th one who was a disabled. Everyone was mean to me except for that one. But I didn’t like my uncle he hit my mom all the time. I cried and hid behind old door and stayed there quietly. Sometimes I slept there and my mom looked for me everywhere.

Who do you miss the most?

I would hate to go back to my uncle’s house. I don’t miss anyone.

Do you miss your mom?

Sometimes. But, she is living with new dad and baby, my brother who is three years old and looks like my mom. I look like my dad.

Do you like to stay at your home home?

Yes, I like my home but when [my caretaker] gets upset I get scared.

Why does he get upset?

When we don’t clean our room or shower.

What would you like to be when you grew up?

A nice person, I don’t know.


Though we cannot share with you his name, we ask that you would pray for him and the many North Korean orphans like him. Sometimes the process of healing is slow. But we know that God is at work.

Why We Let North Korean Refugees Use Newspaper as Toiletry

The following post was written by a Crossing Borders staff member: It was perhaps one the most meaningful exchanges I’ve had with one of the North Korean refugees in our care. And it was the day that I realized it was okay to let our refugees live in sub-American standards.

I was escorted by our missionaries into Ae-young’s apartment on a dark night. It was in the outskirts of a small city in Northeast China. The roads had no streetlights, the buildings had no power in their stairwells. We used a cell phone to see if we had the right address. Ae-young and her 10-year-old son welcomed us in.

Ae-young is a North Korean refugee. When she crossed the border from North Korea into China, she was sold to a Chinese man and later, with their son, escaped. On her way out she had a chance to grab only one thing: a guitar.With Crossing Borders' support and security, the guitar now hung on the wall of her dim apartment we had relocated her and her son into.

“Do you play?” she asked.

“A little,” I said in broken Korean.

The guitar was dusty. Four of its six strings were intact. The tuning keys creaked as if they had never been turned. I played and the five of us, me, our two missionaries, Ae-young and her son, sang old hymns quietly so we wouldn’t disturb her neighbors. I broke one more string as I played but no one seemed to notice.

After we sang the missionaries and Ae-young spoke while I played with her son. Then I excused myself to the bathroom. I noticed a healthy stack of newspaper within arms reach of the toilet and realized they used this stack of coarse paper to wipe in the bathroom.

When we left I told our missionaries that I wanted to go to the store and get Ae-young and her son some toilet paper. It was a nice gesture, I thought. But our two missionaries, surprisingly, advised against it.

Ae-young was happy with her current situation. She had been provided with this apartment recently. Her new home was an immense upgrade from the conditions she was living in before she had been taken in by Crossing Borders.

Crossing Borders’ goal is not merely to address the living standards of the North Korean refugees we help. Our goal is also not to simply supply refugees with materials we think they need. We try to help them by giving them a safe, clean environment to live in, to meet their needs of food and shelter so that they can figure out what they want to do next. We want to help them to build towards their future independently, responsibly and self-sufficiently. We will guide them to the means to do this whether it is in building a life in China or in taking the steps to flee to South Korea.

I knew this before I had encountered Ae-young and her son but it’s hard to realize that things like nice toilet paper are luxuries. We are used to living with so much that we can forget that our work is not to provide only material happiness.

A lot has been said recently of compassion and the damage organizations like ours can cause in the life of a person with material needs. The perception is that groups like ours come in and take “compassion” on North Korean refugees' standards of living, making them dependent on our aid. In cases this can become a real, detrimental issue. I have seen the damage that money without wisdom and oversight can do in a country that is just beginning to get a taste for Western materialism.

But the injustice in the North Korean refugee crisis isn’t that they can’t afford iPhones, or even toiletries available to modern countries. It is that they have been lied to and spiritually decimated by their government. It is that they have been frozen in fear and made fugitives to victim mentalities.

The goal of Crossing Borders isn’t to bridge the material divide between North Korean refugees and American citizens. We exist because there is a huge injustice in the world and we believe that it is our calling as Christians to go help, to empower them with Christ's compassion.