A video recently released by Voice of the Martyrs tells the story of a North Korean man whose life was changed after a Chinese pastor befriended him and told him about God. The missionary work of the pastor, who was executed by a Korean squad in April 2016, is now being credited with leading to the discipleship of more than 1,000 North Koreans.
“In primary school, we were taught that all missionaries were terrorists,” the man, simply identified as Sang-chul, outlines in the production. “They told us that a missionary will be nice to you at first, but when they get you into their homes, then they will kill you and eat your liver.”
Sang-chul, however, came face-to-face with a missionary after he surreptitiously crossed the border from North Korea into China to pick mushrooms in the woods. He was married at this point and could not find any work or food. Sang-chul thought that perhaps he could sell the mushrooms to make money.
However, as he was picking, he was approached by a man who offered to sell the mushrooms for him. Sang-chul later learned that the kind man was a pastor, named Hun.
Over the next two years, Hun helped Sang-chul pick and sell mushrooms. Sang-chul wondered why as Hun could get in trouble for providing assistance to a North Korean.
“It is because I am a Christian,” Hun replied.
Sang-chul then became frightened that maybe Hun would kill him and eat his liver as he had been told as a child. Instead, the pastor only sought to give him hope in the Lord.
“One day, Han said to me, ‘God is real. There is hope for every person.’ I could not believe that he would say that word ‘God,'” he recalled. “Nobody says that word. We know that it is an act of treason. To speak the name of God can lead to soldiers coming in the night. There will be no trial. No journalists will write about you and no one will dare ever ask where you have gone.”
Sang-chul later asked the pastor for a Bible, an act that could also have landed the North Korean in trouble. But he persuaded Han to provide it nonetheless.
His possession of a Bible was not so well-received by his wife, who then feared what might happen to them if they were caught.
“Why would you bring that here?” Sang-chul recalled of her exclamation. “She knew that if anyone reported that you had even glanced at a Bible, you would be arrested. And not just you, you and all your relatives [will be] sent to the concentration camps for years and years.”
But as time passed, his wife came to know that God is indeed real, and Sang-chul went on to secretly share a Bible with his best friend.
In 2016, Sang-chul learned that North Korean squad members were being honored by the government for killing a “terrorist missionary” of the Changbai mountains. He knew it had to be Han and wondered if his family would be seized next.
“Pastor Han gave his life, but he gave hope to me and many other North Koreans,” Sang-chul said. “And despite the ever-present danger, many of us will continue to share the message that God is real.”
“We hope that our sacrifice, when the day comes, will be worthwhile just like it was for Pastor Han.”
Voice of the Martyrs says that that Han’s ministry has led to the discipleship of more than 1,000 North Koreans.
Proverbs 11:30 states, “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and he that winneth souls is wise.”