Eun Hye closed the bathroom door. She was now in the safest place in the camp for North Korean street children. Her parents and sisters were in China, her brother with an uncle in North Korea. Earlier, she had also stayed with her uncle, until there wasn’t enough food for all of them. That’s when Eun Hye, 16 at the time, decided to leave and turned to the streets so her little brother would survive. Only a few weeks later, she was caught by police and brought to a camp for street kids. It was a crowded place with over 2,000 children. For food, she received five tiny dirt-covered potatoes three times a day. With no opportunity to wash themselves, the children’s bodies were filthy and tormented by maggots.
Every day, children passed away because of malnutrition. In the quiet of the stall, Eun Hye remembered the prayers of her grandmother. She remembered the way her grandmother would kneel and speak to the one she called “Hanonim,” which means Lord. Eun Hye whispered the words she had heard her grandmother whisper so often before. “Hanonim, please save me, rescue me. Bring me back to my family,” she said. In this place, nobody wanted to go to the bathroom unless they had no choice. But Eun Hye came to appreciate those precious moments alone with the God of her grandmother. “Lord, save me from this pain, sadness and death,” she would pray in the quiet of the bathroom.
Two months after her arrival in the camp, the guards asked for volunteers to collect chestnuts in the mountains. It meant a long, difficult journey. Eun Hye and the other children were very weak and she had no intention of participating in what could become a walk of death. But then she heard a voice in her head she didn’t recognize that told her to volunteer. So she joined the group. On the journey, they had to cross a large reservoir with small boats. Then she was placed in a unit of four children. Two climbed up the trees to pick the chestnuts, while two others stayed down to collect them. Eun Hye saw this as an opportunity to attempt an escape with another girl in her group.
“Can you swim?” Eun Hye asked. The girl shook her head. Once again, Eun Hye prayed for help. Later, when no one was around, Eun Hye and her friend escaped and found a rope at a nearby house. When they arrived at the reservoir, the girls tied the rope around their waists. Eun Hye used all the strength she had to swim to the other side, dragging her friend through the water. They reached the shore safely and walked all the way to the city. Afraid they would be caught again, they decided to board a train. Because they didn’t have train tickets nor travel permits, they dug a hole under the wall with their bare hands and accessed the railway track. Once through, they went their separate ways.
Eun Hye went back to her hometown to see if there was any word of her parents or siblings. She found neighbours and strangers who helped give her a little food to survive. Again she prayed, “God, I have no place to go. My future looks so bleak. Please guide me.” Eventually, the family of a nearby farmer took her in. Now her prayers shifted from survival to finding her family: “Thank you, Lord, for what you’ve done for me. May I please continue to live here, and please help me find my family.” One day, a family friend contacted Eun Hye. “Your father and brother are with us,” they said. She ran to see her father and brother. She was elated at the answer to her prayer.
Eventually, she asked, “How is mother?” “Your mother and your sisters are fine,” her father said. “They are married in China. Life is so much better there.” Upon hearing his words, Eun Hye made up her mind to escape North Korea and return to China with her father and brother. They went to the river at night. Her father tied her little brother to himself with a rope and made sure both of them arrived at the other side safely. Eun Hye swam on her own. Behind her, North Korea was pitch black. The Chinese city in front of her burst with lights. When they finally reunited with her mother and other siblings, they celebrated. Eun Hye told her mother about her prayers in North Korea.
She quickly noticed her father had told the truth about the living standards. There were no street children, no blackouts, every household ate rice, and everyone was friendly. That Sunday, Eun Hye went to church with her mother. For the first time in her life, she saw the cross on the wall and she could see other people praying. They prayed with the same words as her grandmother had, so many years ago. She didn’t understand the Chinese sermon, but she felt at home. She realized that the prayers of her grandmother and her family allowed her to make it safely to China. “Later, a translator explained to her how Jesus had died and was resurrected to cleanse us of our sins,” Eun Hye says.
* Pray for the food crisis in North Korea. Church leaders tells us that the shortage is severe with many dying from starvation and illness. The situation for Christians is vulnerable and precarious. They face persecution from state authorities and their non-Christian family, friends and neighbours. Pray for their protection.
* Pray for strength and courage for Christians who suffer in prisons, labour camps and remote areas.
* Pray that God will prepare the underground church in North Korea to be a light for the country, and that they will be ready to share the gospel freely someday soon.
Source: God ReportsPrint This Post