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Hope Yoo is a North Korean defector who has committed her life to reaching North Koreans for Christ. She has led 28 people inside North Korea to Christ using a very unique method of evangelism.

Mobile Phones: A Powerful Tool for Evangelism

How do you reach into the most closed nation on earth, a place that has been isolated from the outside world since the 1950s?

Modern technology has provided new ways of reaching people, including one that most of us use every day. ‘The most powerful tool for evangelism today inside North Korea is the mobile phone,’ a Voice of the Martyrs partner said. And at VOM’s Underground Technology program, Hope learned how to share her faith effectively over the phone, something she hadn’t known how to do before.

For Hope, however, it’s not as simple as pulling out her phone and making a direct call to the person she wants to speak with in North Korea. The use of mobile phones in North Korea is tightly regulated, and calls into and out of the country cannot be made using North Korea’s mobile phone service.

Instead, like most other North Korean defectors, Hope communicates with a single contact person. North Koreans can purchase black-market phones from China for the equivalent of about $100, and three hours of call time costs about $30 more. The phones use Chinese cell towers for signals. But North Koreans who use these illegal phones run great risks. Getting caught with one of these phones can result in large fines, confiscation of the phone and possibly even prison.

Hope’s contact is a woman who calls from a remote mountain location in North Korea. She moves every 15 minutes to avoid detection by North Korean authorities. The contact person reports messages to Hope from her family and passes along Hope’s words to them. They usually talk for 70 to 80 minutes at a time, and Hope never knows when the contact person might call. But when she does, Hope is ready.

Twenty Eight New North Korean Christians

Hope communicates with her family about once a month. And in the last five years, she has led 28 people inside North Korea to Christ, including her phone contact. There are very few ways these people inside North Korea could have been reached, so the use of mobile phones is a powerful means of sharing the Gospel. Even North Koreans who might come into contact with missionaries on the Chinese border typically won’t talk to the foreigners and almost certainly won’t trust them. As in Western culture, North Koreans are more receptive to hearing the Gospel from family members or close friends.

It’s too risky for Hope to send a Bible across the border to her family members, so she shares Bible passages with her family over the phone and they write them down. They often set the Scripture verses to a made-up tune to help them remember the words. Hope says one way she knows they are growing in their faith is that they regularly gather to pray for a family member with cancer.

Hope prays for wisdom and that no matter where she is, she will pursue God’s righteousness. ‘I want to be God’s salt and light,’ she said. She prays that she’ll stay healthy enough to continue her work. ‘Even if I die,’ she said, ‘I’m going to die in the middle of doing God’s work.’

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