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As a young girl, I can remember my grandfather praying, in secret, to avoid being reported by his neighbours and receiving consequent reprisals from the authorities. In North Korea, Christians practise their faith in secret and never discuss it, not even with family members.

As children, we were not encouraged to pray or have any faith as it was forbidden and there was great risk in being discovered — imprisonment or death.

In 1997, our family attempted to escape but we were caught near the Du Man river, and only my son got away. We were sentenced to six months in prison for political offences.

I cannot describe the dire situation in prison. My husband starved to death there, and I still don’t know where he is buried. I was released after six months and my health had deteriorated so much that I couldn’t speak or walk. People thought I wouldn’t live very long but by God’s grace, I managed to survive.

Our second attempt to escape, years later, was a success. My younger son and I crossed the river. We obtained the address of my elder son who had escaped earlier from a friend and we soon reunited with him in China.

My life of faith started in China. The Chinese government were always looking for North Korean defectors to send back, so at first my faith was grounded only in my hope to stay alive. I thought that there would be no place to find hope and protection in China but thankfully, I found a church to attend with my eldest son.

Soon after, the Lord gave me a powerful experience. I saw Jesus, He reached out to hold my hands and He pulled me towards Him. The presence of God surrounded me.

I will never forget the feeling of fulfilment of that moment. I always thank God because the hands of Jesus that held me, are still holding me.

Through much prayer and with the help of a South Korean church, we finally reached South Korea after many years in China, living illegally, under the constant threat that if we were caught, we would be sent back to North Korea.

My hope and joy
By trusting in God and studying the Bible, I came to realise, there is a place that is eternal; there is nothing to be obsessed about in this world. The Kingdom of Heaven became my hope. My greatest joy now is helping other defectors come to Christ and teaching them that our hope is in Him, not some dictator!

Hearing testimonies from Voice of the Martyrs of how much suffering and hardship others must overcome makes us realise that we aren’t the only ones who should receive sympathy and help. These are people whom we should pray for and share the Gospel with, this is my responsibility also. It is such an encouragement to realise we are not alone.

I know now, that even through those dark times, God had a purpose for my life and His hand was always upon me. For that I am eternally grateful.

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