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Planting a church in the toilet of a North Korean prison camp - Hea Woo's story of faith and courage


01 October 2018

There are between 50,000 and 70,000 Christians being held in horrific labour camps in North Korea, simply for daring to believe in Jesus.

Hea Woo is a Christian who was imprisoned in North Korea. When she arrived at the prison camp where she was held, there was a sign saying ‘Do not try to escape, you shall be killed’. She says, “The guards were merciless. They kicked me and beat me with sticks. Christians are sometimes killed or locked up for the rest of their lives in concentration camps.

“Constantly there were people dying. Death was a part of our daily life. The bodies were usually burned and the guards scattered the ashes on the path. Every day, we walked down that path and I always thought, one day the other prisoners will be walking over me.”

And yet, even in these labour camps that are like hell on earth, God is at work. Hea Woo says, “God helped me to survive. Even more: He gave me a desire to evangelise among the other prisoners! He showed me whom I should approach. God used me to lead five people to faith. We met together out of the view of the guards. Often that was in the toilet. There we held a short service. I taught them Bible verses and some songs, which we sang almost inaudibly.”

£20 can provide Bible study materials for two courageous North Korean believers, to build their faith and bring them comfort

Find out more about Hea Woo’s story in this short video:

One of the songs that Hea Woo would sing when she was imprisoned was Amazing Grace. When asked what the song means to her, she says, “There have been so many moments in my life where I should have died. But I'm still alive. Thanks to God's Amazing Grace.”

Listen to her sing the first verse of Amazing Grace in Korean:

Thankfully, Hea Woo was eventually released and managed to escape from North Korea. She now lives in South Korea.

You can make a difference for our brothers and sisters In North Korea

North Korea is number one on the 2018 World Watch List, our annual ranking of the 50 countries where Christians are most persecuted for their faith. It’s the most dangerous place in the world to be a follower of Jesus.

And yet, despite the risks they face, Open Doors estimates that there are between 200,000 and 400,000 courageous secret Christians in North Korea, who believe that following Jesus is worth the risk.

You can make a difference to our church family in North Korea. Perhaps that sounds impossible. They are thousands of miles away, trapped in a country that sounds like a nightmare, facing challenges we can only begin to imagine. But there are three things you can do today to stand with them.

*name changed for security reasons

More News from north korea:

Find out more about persecution in North korea