Reluctant Bible Smuggler | North Korea

north korean Bible smuggler

Each time a new customer walked through the door of the small coffee shop in South Korea, where Min-Jae shared his story, he hesitated or stopped talking completely. The middle-aged North Korean studied each person’s face anxiously, searching for clues to his or her intent.

Min-Jae knew from experience that he could never be too careful, even outside North Korea. Spies often cross the border into South Korea to find defectors and report their names to the North Korean government, punishing their relatives still living in the country.

“In North Korea, no one trusts each other,” said Min-Jae, who even suspected his wife of being a spy. “We have to be very cautious about how we think and always careful with our words. I still have that kind of tendency. I get a little nervous, looking back and forth.”

With the coffee grinder in the background, Min-Jae grew more comfortable sharing the story of how he became a Bible smuggler in the most restricted nation on earth.

Dangerous Cargo

Min-Jae became a believer during a lengthy business trip to China in 2004. While there, he visited a friend’s church. He loved the Bible and all its “weird” stories. Five months later, after being baptized, he received his own small Korean Bible. He grew in his understanding of the Scriptures, Min-Jae had to return to North Korea. But as he prepared to leave China, someone from the church made a bold request: Would he accept a shipment that included 10 hidden Bibles once he returned to North Korea?

At first, he declined. He was already nervous about bringing his own small Bible into the country. If border guards caught him with even a few pages, he could be tortured or killed. And Min-Jae knew that receiving the shipment of Bibles could results in his imprisonment in a North Korean concentration camp.

As he agonized over the decision, he remembered that he had given his life to Christ, and it was no longer his own. He decided to trust the Lord.

“Now I believe in God, and in God, everything is possible,” he thought. “I can do anything He wants. Even if it looks difficult, maybe God will just do His work.”

The shipment arrived a few months after Min-Jae’s return to North Korea. At 1 a.m. on a morning in November 2005, he approached a boat along the Yalu Riverbank, praying for God’s protection and guidance with every step.

After retrieving three large vinyl duffle bags, he hoisted them onto his back and ran toward his home in the dark. Once inside his house, he opened the bags to find them tightly packed with pants. But wrapped randomly within the clothing were 10 small Korean Bibles.

“I was afraid and nervous,” he said. “Receiving them was fine, but when I actually opened the bags, I began to wonder, ‘How can I distribute these at this time?’ I began to have doubts.” Min-Jae decided to keep the dangerous books hidden until God led him to the right people.

Then, as he walked through his village one day in February 2006, he heard a man whistling a Christian hymn; he had learned the tuned, “The Trusting Heart to Jesus Clings,” during his time in China. Min-Jae made a note of where the man lived and decided to deliver some Bibles to him that night under cover of darkness.

After midnight, Min-Jae rewrapped eight of the 10 Bibles in the pants and left them at the man’s front door.

Behind Bars

Months later, Min-Jae returned to China with the intent of defecting. Still, in November 2006, he was arrested and extradited to North Korea.

In prison, he met a former friend who had been arrested because of his Christian faith. And as they talked, Min-Jae came to realize that the man he gave the Bibles to was his friend’s uncle. That man also had been arrested and was being held in a different cell in the same prison.

Min-Jae’s friend told him that his uncle had given the eight Bibles to relatives, who had then committed their lives to Christ. The entire family of 27 people began to gather secretly at night to worship God and to read and discuss the Scriptures. But one night, a neighbor overheard the believers singing hymns and reported them to authorities. The secret police raided their home and arrested everyone.

Although he couldn’t interact with them in prison, Min-Jae often heard some of the family members praying in their cells. He never told his friend that he was the one who had left the eight Bibles on his uncle’s doorstep. It was still too risky for anyone to know.

A month later, all 27 family members, including Min-Jae’s friend and his friend’s uncle, were sent to a concentration camp.

Set Free

Min-Jae was released after seven months in prison, and in 2014 he successfully defected to South Korea.

He remains concerned—even feeling a bit guilty—about the Christian family suffering in a concentration camp. He supplied the Bibles that helped lead to their imprisonment. Still, he knows that God provided the Bibles and that He is with them as they suffer in His name. “I believe that these 27 people are children of God and that God will somehow release them miraculously,” Min-Jae said.

VOM has provided some support to Min-Jae. Today, he serves in various ways at his church and participates in a one-on-one discipleship program. He continues to pray for a job that will enable him to support himself and asks Christians in the United States to pray that more North Koreans will learn of God’s love for them.

“I just want for North Korean people to hear the gospel and share the gospel,” he said. “That is my only prayer.”

After his conversation in the coffee shop, Min-Jae pulled out the hand-sized Bible he received in China when he first came to know Christ. The outside looks like a notebook, but its pages contain God’s Word in a near-microscopic font. He had hidden the Bible from everyone, including his wife, and it had sustained him when he was a lonely Christian fearful of his work as a Bible smuggler.

Like the family of 27 believers imprisoned for their faith and countless others secretly following Jesus inside North Korea, Min-Jae depended on God’s Word, too.

Story via Voice of the Martyrs

Cuban Christian Persecution Persists

cuban christian persecution

Although the leadership changed, Cuban Christian persecution continues. The government views Christianity as a threat to communism. Police interrogate church leaders who resist teachings that are contrary to God’s Word. Church leaders also disobey government restrictions on Christian witness. The government forbids unregistered and new churches. Cubans still are poor, with the government controlling every aspect of life.

Major Religions:

Most Cubans are atheists. A significant number of Cubans practice Santería.

Cuban Christian Persecution:

The government persecutes Christians.

What It Means to Follow Christ in Cuba:

Because of its global reputation, the Cuban government changed persecution tactics. Government officials call Christian leaders to meet with them. The police then jail them for up to 48 hours. The government either seize church buildings or hires gangs to destroy churches. The government does not allow new church buildings. Many Christians meet in unsanctioned “house churches.”

However, the church continues to grow. Some of the country’s 1 million believers do not own a Bible. Although not imprisoned, the police watch Christians so closely. It feels like they are under house arrest. In addition, Christians are often denied jobs and educational opportunities.

Access to Bibles:

Although the government allows some Bible distribution, they still restricts access to Bibles. Two years ago, Cuba allowed the legal purchase and sale of Bibles only to members of the ecumenical Protestant church. But most Christian literature remains illegal. There are no Christian bookstores on the island. Bibles can cost up to a third of a worker’s monthly income. Give Bibles

Voice of the Martyrs (VOM) Work:

VOM distributes Bibles and supports discipleship and evangelism. Give to VOM’s Global Ministry

pray for cuba

Prayer Opens Prisons

russian jail

(Daniel 6:11)  The men who had spoken to the king watched Daniel and saw him praying to his God for help.

Daniel prayed despite the king’s decree. He knew that praying was dangerous. But he also realized that prayer was vitally important. Examine his dilemma. Praying would cost him his life. Yet, not praying would kill him spiritually.  It was a difficult choice. However, his relationship with God was more important than his life.

In Russia, prayer also met with great opposition. The devil knows only too well that praying people are victorious people.

One day, I was arrested with 30 other brothers in Moscow. The police locked us up in an ice-cold cell. It was a few days before Christmas. We thought we would not be home for Christmas. It was no use complaining. One of the brothers said, “Let’s pray.” We all knelt down on the cold concrete floor. We prayed for an hour. The policeman was dumbfounded. He said, “What kind of fanatics are you? How dare you pray in an atheist police station?” A long conversation followed.

Later, the officer said, “We don’t know what to do with you. If we imprison one of you, he will convert another prisoner. If we imprison two, another two will be converted. Go home, you won’t bother us there.”

He was right. Prayer gives strength and opens doors. If it doesn’t open the doors of prison cells, it opens people’s hearts inside prisons. What a powerful weapon! Use it.

via Gerhard Hamm from Russia; he spent many years in prisons and labor camps in Northern Siberia.

LGBTQ+ Threatens to Burn Down Church

newquay baptist church

UK Pastor John Williamson of Newquay Baptist Church faces violent threats from the LGBTQ+ community for saying that homosexuality is a sin.

According to Christian Concern, Williamson wrote, “Wonderful news!” in response to a news article reporting the cancellation of the Cornwall Pride Parade. The parade was to occur on August 29.

An online user asked Williamson why he celebrated the cancellation. The pastor replied, “Because I don’t think sin should be celebrated.”

Williamson referred to Scripture to defend his stance on homosexuality.

The pastor shared the article on his personal Facebook page. He also noted that his church prayed for the parade’s cancellation.

“We also prayed that the Lord would save the organizers. One prayer answered. Now we wait for the second prayer to be answered,” he added.

Parade organizers learned of Williamson’s page. They took a screenshot of his post, tagged his church, and posted it with online users’ anti-LGBTQ+ comments.

The names of the users were blocked out by Cornell Pride, to make it look like Pastor Williamson made the negative comments.

Williamson’s wife received online threats. Her husband’s head was superimposed upon an image of homosexual pornography that was shared online.

Cornwall Pride followers reported the pastor to police for committing a hate crime.

Williamson received many threats. Members of the LGBTQ+ community protested outside of his church during Sunday’s service. They threatened to have the church’s charity status revoked. They also threatened to deport the pastor to Australia’s homeland.

Amid the threats, Williamson met with two members of Cornwall Pride. He continued to defend his stance on homosexuality. He shared a tract that explains why homosexuality is a sin.

But the group shared images of the tract online. This gave the appearance that Williamson was promoting hate speech.

Christian Concern shared a screenshot of a post. One member proposed to burn down Newquay Baptist Church. It was met with support.

Another user chanted, “LET’S BURN A CHURCH! LET’S BURN A CHURCH!”

Another member suggested having a mass sex orgy at the church.

Police officers told Williamson that he should not offend anyone in the LGBTQ+ community.

According to Christian Concern, the Cornwall Police are sponsors of the LGBTQ organization.

Williamson expressed concern about the threats. He said: “As Christians, we seek to speak the truth in love. We welcome all people to our services,” including members of the LGBTQ+ community.

However, Williamson stated that the Bible says all people need to repent from their sin and place their trust in Christ.

“It would be unloving for us to remain silent about what God’s Word says about sin. We, therefore, must proclaim the truth that homosexuality is a sin. But God loves sinners, and Jesus can forgive all our sins.”

Chief Executive of the Christian Legal Centre is representing Pastor Josh Williamson over the incident.

“It’s common in the UK to see threats and calls for violence against Christians for voicing their opposition to LGBT Pride,” Williams stated. “Police forces should show Christians they take this seriously. They should protect their free speech against mob threats rather than telling them to keep Christians quiet.”

“Christians are called to repay evil with good. I have no doubt that Pastor Williamson will continue to share the reality of sin and the good news of Jesus Christ with Newquay’s people,” she concluded.

via Christian Headlines