Serving Persecuted Christians Worldwide - Ministering to trafficked North Korean women in China – Rebecca’s story - Open Doors UK & Ireland
02 March 2021

Ministering to trafficked North Korean women in China – Rebecca’s story

Rebecca (not her real name) has dedicated years of her life to serve and encourage trafficked North Korean women who were sold to brothels and as brides to Chinese men when they escaped North Korea. Now retired from the role, she reflects on the highs and lows of her ministry – a ministry that was only possible thanks to your prayers and support.

The women that Rebecca worked with are often abused. China’s one child policy has led to a shortage of women, and the poorest men often cannot find a bride – so they buy one. Rebecca and field workers like her provide these women with pastoral care, Bible study and a little money so they can survive. The work is not without risk and danger, but for Rebecca, it has been worth it to bless these women. 

Rebecca, what did your ministry with these North Korean women look like? 

I worshipped God with them, studied the Word with them, and I provided them with what they needed. Those were the main projects. The meetings were mostly twice a month. I tried to teach them the Word itself. I taught them from the book of Genesis, step-by-step. 

How do these women usually respond to God’s Word? 

When the sisters first hear about the Word of God, they laugh at it, and they respond as if it were nonsense. But as they get to listen more and more to the verses and sermons, they become serious about the message. It was 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, and that was why the sisters themselves said that the Word doesn’t come right into their hearts. 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. 

Rather than sitting there and persuading them with what I said, I let them accept that it takes time for them to change their thoughts. And when I did not stop teaching them biblical messages, one day they realised the Truth themselves, and their lives gradually changed. 

What were some of the challenges you encountered while working on the mission field? 

My mission was to take care of the North Korean sisters. As the sisters do not have any legal papers, they are illegal refugees from North Korea. Meeting those people itself is quite dangerous for me. Plus, our work is not very favourable to the government of that area, so I needed to avoid all the possibilities that might put the ministry in danger, such as surveillance, and still meet the sisters. That was the most tricky and difficult part.  

“As God allowed me to find the sisters in such [difficult] situations, I would go and meet them.”Rebecca

The sisters’ 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 within China. They cannot do what they want. They are confined to their situation. As God allowed me to find the sisters in such situations, I would go and meet them. 

Were there more difficult moments? 

There were quite a lot of difficult moments, especially when I needed to go to faraway places to meet those sisters. They live far away from where I live. [To travel to them safely], I needed to avoid using my identification card. That’s why I tried not to use buses or trains when traveling to the ministry areas, because passengers get checked all the time. I often used illegal cars to travel. 

I know God protected me. There were 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. You know, the journeys to the areas were new every time. I had to get new transportation every time I went there.  

Every time, I was able to get the means to travel, and there was not one accident or incident, so I confess this was God’s amazing grace. Also, I was never caught by the Chinese police and was able to continue visiting the sisters. This proves that God protects the ministry. 

Have you seen any fruit from your ministry? 

The Chinese family members are often afraid that the North Korean wives will just run off. That’s one reason why they treat them badly. The North Korean ladies don’t behave well either. But oftentimes, the Chinese family members of the sisters say, ‘You have changed since you’ve been to the church.’ 

And during the worship services within the Bible study group, the sisters begin to sincerely pray for their families and their redemption. They started to ask for God’s heart when praying for their families. When I see those transformations, I feel so happy and proud of them.  

[Sometimes] we help those underground believers [in North Korea] who are the sisters’ relatives, through our network in China. We receive their letters and news that they received the funds safely and they live on those funds to worship God. I feel very happy when I hear this news. 

Your prayers and support are showing North Korean refugees in China that they are not alone through secret workers like Rebecca

How do you pray for these North Korean women? 

Firstly, 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. I pray that they will be able to shine God’s glory to their families at home. Also, to the 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.  

Moreover, I pray that beyond this confusing season, where we are not sure of what will happen between North and South Korea, and also China, I pray that the sisters will be prepared for the united Korea, and serve as powerful disciples of God when the time comes. That is my prayer point for the sisters. 

Which sister do you 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 trained as a spy. This is just my speculation, but she acted suspiciously and sometimes lied about her faith. But suddenly, 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. One time 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. 

“I was never caught by the Chinese police and was able to continue visiting the sisters. This proves that God protects the ministry.”Rebecca

Are there also things you regret? 

At first, when the sisters were talking about the hard things they were going through, I tried to discipline them with what I thought was right, but this may have rather given them even another hard time.  

One of the sisters, now in South Korea, when she was complaining to me about her mum’s death, she kept letting herself stay within depressing feelings and self-pity. I always told her to get out of these dark emotions, get up and live as a Jesus follower, but now I think that I had to comfort and care for her feelings more than just disciplining them with what I thought was right. That’s the point I want to redo. 

How else did you see God at work in their lives? 

At first, the sisters 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 went by, the sisters changed, and they now know how to listen to others, how to comfort others and how to encourage others. This is the moment that I realised that Jesus really touched their hearts and taught them how to love.  

Also, at first, the sisters were just into the sad, self-pitying feelings, but as time went by, as they encountered the Word of God more and more, they 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. 

When I saw those transformations, I was very happy for the sisters. The Word of God surely changes the women in His good ways.

Prayer News brings you face-to-face with your persecuted church family. Discover their stories and join with them in prayer today.

Please pray
  • Praise God for Rebecca's courageous ministry. Please pray for God's blessing on her, as she was recently married and is entering a new season of life. Pray too for the new field worker who has taken on Rebecca's role
  • For transformation and fruitfulness in the lives of the refugee ladies, that they would shine God’s light to all around them
  • That God would miraculously touch the lives of North Korea’s leaders and bring about peace and freedom for all North Korean citizens.
See. Change.

Thanks to your prayers and support, women like Rebecca are being empowered to lead and encourage new believers. Discover how you can strengthen Christian women around the world who are doubly vulnerable to persecution.


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