CAPE TOWN: 18-Year-Old North Korean Woman Recounts Persecution
By David W. Virtue in Cape Town
October 23, 2010
Religious persecution came at a high price for Sook (not her real name), the 18-year old daughter of a former high-ranking assistant to North Korean leader, Kim Jeong II.
In a moving testimony that brought many to tears, some 4,200 participants at The Third Lausanne Congress on World Evangelization heard Sook tell how in 1998, at the tender age of six, her father suffered severe political persecution forcing the family to flee to China. It was there that her parents came to know the amazing grace and love of God. Tragically, after only a few months, her mother, pregnant with their second child, suddenly died of leukaemia.
"In the midst of this family tragedy my father joined a Bible study led by missionaries from South Korea and America. He became convinced that he should become a missionary to North Korea," she related.
"In 2001 my father was reported on and arrested by the Chinese police, and deported back to North Korea, where he was sentenced to prison. He cried out to God for strength during this time. His three-year incarceration only served to strengthen his faith. After his release he returned to China and I was reunited briefly with my father.
"Soon after that he chose to return to North Korea instead of enjoying a life of religious freedom in South Korea to share Christ's message of love and hope among the people of his homeland.
"In 2006 my father's work was discovered by the North Korean government and once again he was imprisoned."
According to Sook, she did not hear from him again and thought, in all probability, he had been publicly executed on charges of treason and espionage. This is often the fate of confessing Christians in North Korea.
Alone in China, Sook was adopted by the family of a young pastor. It was through their love, care, compassion and protection that a deep impression was made on her. When they left for America, she was given the opportunity to go to South Korea.
While staying at the Korean Consulate in Beijing, waiting to go to South Korea, Sook's life was dramatically and irrevocably changed when Jesus came to her in a dream.
"He had tears in his eyes. He walked towards me and asked, 'Sook, how much longer are you going to keep me waiting? Walk with me. Yes, you have lost your earthly father, but I am your heavenly Father and whatever has happened to you, was because I love you.'"
She prayed to God for the very first time and gave him her heart, soul, mind and strength, asking Him to be used for His will. A deep love for the lost people of North Korea and the need to bring the love of Jesus to them subsequently became her life purpose.
"I look back over my short life and I see God's hand everywhere. I had six years in North Korea, eleven in China and now I was in South Korea. Everything I suffered: all the sadness and grief, all that I have experienced and learned; I want to give it all to God and for Him to use my life for his Kingdom. In this way I also hoped to bring honour to my father."
Still a student, the intention of this young and vibrant follower of Christ is to get to university to study political science and diplomacy, and then work for the rights of the voiceless in North Korea.
"Brothers and sisters here in this place, I humbly ask you to pray that the same light of God's grace and mercy that reached my father and my mother and now me, will one day soon dawn upon the people of North Korea, my people."
At the conclusion of her address, participants to the Congress rose in silence, and then broke into applause.
Cape Town 2010 being held here is the latest global congress sponsored by The Lausanne Movement, begun by Billy Graham in 1974. The Congress is possibly the most representative gathering of the Christian church in history. Apart from the 198 countries meeting in South Africa, it extends to another anticipated 100,000 individuals at nearly 700 GlobaLink sites in more than 95 countries around the world.
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