“For 70 years, my entire country has been one giant prison camp. Love, happiness, freedom, human rights–those words do not even exist.” Ji Hyeon-A, North Korean survivor
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Today (Nov. 3) is the International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church around the world. Persecution is increasing sharply in India and China is tightening its control over millions of Muslims as well as Christians.
But for 18 years, through the tyrannical, maniacal grip of three generations of despots, North Korea has topped the Top Ten Watch List of persecuted countries. Ji Hyeon-A, a young woman desperate for freedom, escaped over the river into China four times over nine years–the first time (1998) splitting up as a family to avoid suspicion. Her father went first and they were supposed to meet up with him at a home in China. He wasn’t there.
Three times Hyeon-A was recaptured in China and forcibly repatriated to North Korea. She was separated from her family, beaten, tortured, and sold into trafficking (so were her mother and 16-year old sister, she found out later), enduring “things no one should ever have to go through.” She was sentenced to 8 months in a labor camp during a famine which killed 3.5 million people, who ate every living thing, even stripping all the bark off trees throughout the nation trying to survive. Emaciated people “like walking sticks” who were admitted to the camp died of dysentery within three days.
Pregnant, Hyeon-A was subjected to a forceps abortion without anesthesia.
Controlling her emotion, Hyeon-A told her story recently at the Values Voter Summit in Washington, D.C. –and that emotion found voice through her young male interpreter, at times choked with the shock and grief she held back.
Lying on a table in a security facility in excruciating pain, helplessly watching her 3-month fetus be “ripped to shreds,” an arm and leg at a time, Ji Hyeon-A cried out to God, Daniel and his 3 friends were saved even in the lion’s den and the raging furnace. Are our prayers too small and insignificant? We’ve had to suffer 7 years of torture and tragedy. Why weren’t our prayers answered? Why do we have to suffer and die like this?
“It felt so unfair,” she told her American audience. “I resented God so much at that moment.”
God spoke to her gently in her bitterness and devastation. Does it hurt? Does it hurt–a lot? I too lost My son that way. So go tell my people in North Korea about Me–
Hyeon-A said, “He saw His own son suffer and die but Jesus had to die on the cross– That is when I knew my Father’s heart.
“I summoned all my strength and crossed the cold river again, still bleeding profusely from the abortion. The river turned red with blood…”
This time, in China, she was reunited with her mother, sisters and brother (who had to fend for himself on the streets when the members of his family were seized). Hyeon-A has been a follower of Jesus Christ and an advocate for her people for 12 years. Her father has not been seen again.
For all the talks from the Values Voter Summit, Oct. 11-13, go to https://www.valuesvotersummit.org/archive