Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - Risking everything for North Korean refugees: the diary of a secret fieldworker - Open Doors UK & Ireland
27 December 2022

Risking everything for North Korean refugees: the diary of a secret fieldworker

Rebecca (name changed) has one of the riskiest jobs imaginable. Through Open Doors’ secret networks in China, she meets with North Korean refugee women. They’ve escaped North Korea in search of a better life – but have ended up being trafficked. Often they are neglected or abused by the families they end up in.

Rebecca is able to bring them pastoral care, a little money and, most importantly, the good news of the gospel. As the weeks go by, she sees God working amazing change in these vulnerable women. Her work comes with incredible risks – but it brings incredible joy. This is her story.

Rebecca's diary of supporting North Korean refugees (name changed and images from a reconstruction of Rebecca's story)

Day 1

I met some new North Korean sisters today. These women endure such poor lives. Their lives are truly difficult and harsh. They should be welcomed as a new family member but many of them are not. Instead, they are just treated as a means to deliver babies. Without legal identification, they cannot travel freely. They cannot do what they want. They are confined in the situation.

could help provide spiritual and financial support for a believer fleeing extreme persecution.

God allows me to find the sisters. When they first hear about the Word of God, they laugh at it, and they respond as if it were nonsense. I know they’re only coming for funds, for the small amount of money I can give. But I’ve seen God do many transformations in the past, and I have faith He will do it again.

It’s very difficult to teach them the message of the Word because in their minds, there are a mixture of ideas that they learned from North Korea which are against the teachings of Jesus. They really want to believe it, but the messages from the Bible were so different from what they had learned so far, so it takes time for them to actually accept the Truth. In North Korea, being found with a Bible would mean a death sentence. I know how dangerous it is – both for them and for me – to share the gospel. Oh, but it’s worth it.

After a month

I need to go to faraway places to meet these sisters. They live far away from where I live, and in a new place that I didn’t know. The journey is difficult and dangerous. 

"I need to go to faraway places to meet these sisters. The journey is difficult and dangerous."

I know God protects me. There have been a lot of times when I needed to travel alone. Those were such insecure moments but, all the time, God prepared the way for me. 

Every time I’ve travelled for this work, there was not one accident or incident – this is God’s amazing grace! Even though the journeys from village to village aren’t safe, I am able to continue visiting the sisters for the Bible study meetings. This proves that God protects the ministry.

After two months

I’m getting to know the sisters more. Surely, I feel pity for them, but they are so lovely. They are God’s children, that’s their identity, and just feeling pity for them is not enough. God looks for them, and wants to build them. As they get to listen more and more to the Bible and to explanations about it, they become serious about the message. 

At first, the women only talked to me about their own problems. They didn’t listen to others. They were jealous of what the other person had and hated one another. They had a lot of conflicts and fights among them. But as time goes by, the sisters are changing, and they now know how to listen to others, how to comfort others and how to encourage others. I’m seeing that Jesus is really touching their hearts and teaching them how to love. 

After three months

Today, I was thinking about the sisters I miss the most. The sister I really miss is, ironically, the sister that I was the most suspicious about. My guess is that she was actually a spy.

"I’m seeing amazing transformation in the North Korean sisters."

This is just my speculation, but she acted suspiciously and she sometimes lied about her faith. But a moment came and, after that, she wasn’t that distant anymore. She engaged with us in the meetings and helped us with things. And slowly, she began to show who she really was. 

But she seemed to have cycles. Sometimes she was distant, sometimes she was close. At times she sounded like she truly believed in Jesus, but at other times she didn’t. 

I wonder how she encounters God these days. I miss her a lot.

After six months

I’m seeing amazing transformation in the North Korean sisters. During the worship services within the Bible study group, the sisters begin to sincerely pray for their husbands and in-laws and their redemption. They’ve started to ask for God’s heart when praying for their families. Even the Chinese families notice. Often they say, “You have changed since you’ve been to the church.”

could provide a refugee fleeing extreme persecution with a food package and essential medicine to help them survive.

When I see these transformations, I feel so happy and proud of them. As they get to know more about Jesus, the Word of God surely changes the women in His good ways.

Also, they’ve started to really pray for their own country. They prayed that churches will be built in the land and that North Korea will accept the gospel of Jesus Christ. Some sisters have contact with underground believers in North Korea, and we’ve been able to help them through secret networks in China. We received their letters and news that they received the funds safely and that they’re worshipping God. It made me feel so happy to hear this news.

After nine months

I’m amazed when I think about how the sisters have changed in the time I’ve known them. At first, all they wanted was to receive. They came to the Bible study meetings to get the funds. They wanted to be supported. But then when they kept listening to the Word of God and learned about God’s love, they started to help other sisters, comforting and encouraging them, loving them. That’s the moment I thought, “Wow, they really have changed.” I thank God for such transformation.

"I pray that the sisters will serve as powerful disciples of God."

“Surely, God has His own plans for your life,” I say to them. “Please remember this. Please remember this wherever you go, whatever you do. Even when it’s pitch dark and you feel like you are all by yourself, Jesus Christ is holding your hand. Please don’t forget this Truth.”

I pray that the fruits of the Holy Spirit will be abundant among the sisters, so that they will first see God’s glory and shine His glory right where they are – whether they stay in China or go back to North Korea. I pray that they will be able to shine God’s glory to their families, to their neighbours and the people around them. I pray that the sisters will be able to show God’s beautiful character and love right where they are. I pray that the sisters will serve as powerful disciples of God.

Rebecca takes extraordinary risks to meet with North Korean women refugees, showing them the love of Christ. She can only do it if Open Doors supporters like you keep supporting and praying for her. Together, the body of Christ is transforming the lives of courageous North Koreans.

*Names changed for security reason

Please pray
  • That God will protect the ministry of secret fieldworkers, so they will not be detected by the authorities
  • For many more North Korean refugees to encounter Jesus and choose to follow Him
  • For God to show His love, strength and comfort to all who take risks to obey Him.
Please give
  • Every £20 could help provide spiritual and financial support for a believer fleeing extreme persecution
  • Every £35 could provide a refugee fleeing extreme persecution with a food package and essential medicine to help them survive
  • Every £48 could provide a refugee with clothing, blankets, fuel and heaters to keep them warm this winter  

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