North Korea (GAM/AR) – Due to the level of persecution Christians face, it is really hard to get stories about what God is doing in North Korea.
However, this story came to us by way of Alpha Relief, the humanitarian arm of our partner, Global Advance. To protect security and safety, Global Advance has kept the author of the story anonymous and changed the names of those involved:
I am amazed at what the LORD can do with a forgiving heart and a willingness to humbly follow His lead. This month I want to introduce you to Bo and Annie, a couple who know firsthand the hardships of following Christ in a restricted nation. Though they face persecution for their beliefs, these two brave heroes are taking even greater risks by providing emergency relief and discipleship to a covert church inside North Korea.
Bo and Annie have not always been heroes. Before they became believers, Bo ran a cross-border business delivering and trading goods with a North Korean partner named Ju. The business relationship appeared successful until one day Bo discovered an anomaly in the financial records.
Ju had been cheating him out of a great deal of money. In heated anger, Bo broke off the partnership.
A few years passed, and by God’s grace Bo and Annie came to be followers of Christ. They were fully committed to their new faith and began to attend a secret Chinese Bible school. During those intense times of studying God’s Word, they received their calling to disciple and train North Koreans to be undercover house church leaders.
They knew the dangers they faced if their ministry was discovered. But with Bo’s North Korean business connections, they also knew they had access to people many others couldn’t reach. The couple knew God was leading them to disciple Ju, the very man who had caused so much bitterness in Bo.
Shocked that the couple would reach out in peace to him after so many years, Ju agreed to meet with Bo and Annie. The consequences they faced if Ju decided to turn them in to the authorities were severe, but Bo and Annie began to reveal the reasons for their heart change through the Gospel message. They ended by telling Ju that they had forgiven him. The couple’s unprecedented kindness led Ju to repentance and he accepted Christ as his Savior.
But God wasn’t done yet. Soon Ju began taking his own risks by sharing the Gospel with his family and extended relatives. In just three years, Ju led over 20 families to Jesus and the group met together regularly to worship in secret.
During that time, Bo and Annie began to further their vision by covertly bringing members of Ju’s underground church into China for intensive three week Bible training and discipleship sessions. During the sessions, the new believers would memorize dozens of Bible verses. Many wrote the most critical elements of their lessons on small pieces of paper. On returning to North Korea, the papers were hidden in deep recesses of clothing so they would not be discovered should anyone be captured. These pieces of paper became precious spiritual food for the other church members awaiting their return.
Through Alpha Relief’s partnership, Bo and Annie are now also able to provide physical resources to the underground church to help with the poverty and hunger many of the members face. As a result, the small church is slowly growing as the light of Jesus shines brighter in the darkness than ever before.
Though Bo and Annie’s cross-border mission is yielding amazing fruit for the Kingdom, the endeavor is not unopposed. The devil sees this ministry as an invasion into his territory and has fought back. Bo and Annie have been arrested and questioned by North Korean authorities. Ju and his wife were also interrogated and even beaten unconscious. Spiritual attack comes as well. Bo routinely experiences kidney problems as well as roller coaster blood pressure and sugar levels from diabetes. Just last month he found himself in a hospital bed close to death.
Even so, this brave network of believers has stayed true to their faith and it’s an honor for us to help resource their work. If their story has been an encouragement, would you consider helping further their mission as well as others serving North Korea just like them?