Singing hymns. Studying the Bible together. Sharing home-cooked food. Praying for each other. It sounds like a typical church home group meeting. But this is no ordinary Bible study. And the people attending it haven’t had ordinary experiences.
The women at this Bible study have all escaped to China from North Korea. In most cases, they left in search of food or jobs. But these women were unknowingly lured by illegal brokers and sold to Chinese husbands, far away in the remote countryside. Not only are they suddenly married to a total stranger, but they do not even share the same language or culture. This Bible study is a lifeline to them.
More than 200 North Korean women have been told about Jesus in these meetings, and half of them go on to be discipled through regular fellowship meetings and Bible training. And it’s all thanks to your ongoing prayers and gifts: this Bible study is part of a project run by Open Doors partners. These courageous women are hearing about Christ and becoming believers because of your continued support.
STRANGERS WHO FEEL LIKE FRIENDS
Usually, a new member of the Bible study group is introduced to the meeting by someone who is already attending. When a North Korean woman is sold to a local family, the news usually spreads quickly from village to village. Then one of the sisters will visit her and invite her to the meeting, often being the first person who has ever told her about Jesus. The meetings are held in great secrecy. It’s a miracle that the women can safely attend.
Ruth*, an Open Doors partner, visited one of the Bible studies, where she met Beauty*, Amy* and Citron*. “We shared hugs like we were old friends,” she says. “They seemed to enjoy each other’s company, and this was confirmed by their unceasing chatter. Beauty was very good at making fun of Amy’s shy character, and Citron was taking Amy’s side for the defence. They sounded and looked very happy. ‘What a lovely fellowship in Jesus,’ I couldn’t help thinking. I thanked God for allowing me to witness such a beautiful and thankful sight.”
It takes several years for a trafficked North Korean woman to adjust to the language and the culture. Many are sold to families who are very poor, so the woman has to work on a farm. Some of their husbands treat them kindly and with respect; others are not treated well by their in-laws. Whatever this new life is like for them, the Bible study group offers solace and refuge, alongside the opportunity to learn more about God.
'HOPE WILL REVEAL ITSELF'
“What a shower of blessing it was for the North Korean sisters to be able to learn about Jesus!” says Ruth. “What deep experiences they have with Jesus, considering all the hardship and tribulation they had to go through just to be sitting here.
As well as fellowship and Bible study, the women support each other practically and financially, placing offerings into a box which are then shared out to those who need it most urgently. The funds are used to pay for medical expenses, to support extended families, or sent to their original families back in North Korea.
The believers support each other and share prayer requests. One of them shares, “I pray that I will try to give something back to God for His grace, finding satisfaction in small things and remembering the Lord’s messages.”
Another says, “I pray that I will remember God’s words well and follow His intentions. I will also remember that patiently walking onto the road of harshness and tribulation rather than an easy way, hope will reveal itself.”
“Thank you for your support and prayers, which make precious meetings and fellowship possible,” says Ruth. “Please pray that the meetings will be secure and safe, and that more and more North Korean refugee women will be given effective chances to get to know about Jesus and His gospel. Please pray that God will pour His wisdom and courage on to the field workers as they continue their projects to help the persecuted Christians in North Korea.”
We can join in Ruth’s prayer for the women she met:
“Dear God, I bless these sisters, and pray that they will know more about You day by day, and they will resemble your character day after day. Please bless these sisters that they will continue to love one another and discover Your greatness through daily bread. Please bless these sisters that they will continue to serve their family with love and wisdom, that their family members will also get to know about the full gospel of Jesus. Please also bless these women’s home country, that Your Kingdom come and Your will be done on the land. Thank you again for being with us right here at this meeting. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.”
*Name changed for security reasons