You live as a Christian in North Korea, desperate to hold onto God’s love with little to no sign that there are any other Christians nearby. You have to access a secret radio to hear Bible stories that will equip you to share the gospel because you know that God is good, and His goodness is to be shared. But you do so in the face of imminent persecution.
This is the reality for Christians in North Korea, a country at the very top of the World Watch List, who risk their lives daily just to know God more.
The Secret of Hope
Ji Ho* recalls the pain she felt when she saw her father huddled in a corner, running to him while the authorities tore their home apart. Once a place of safety, it was now filled with the darkness of uncertainty with persecution happening right in front of her. As she cried “Appa!” for her father, the state security agents uncovered his secret book, just one of the two items they were searching for, common for persecuted Christians in North Korea.
Intertwined in each other’s arms, Ji Ho and her father wept, knowing this would be their last moment together. He was to be taken away moments later and never seen again.
The other item, not yet found by the authorities, was a radio, hidden behind a picture of Kim Jong Un that they did not dare to touch. This radio connected Ji Ho and her father to the outside world. He had obtained this on the black market, hoping it would point them towards an opportunity to find food or any truth about the state’s claims to the harvest. Knowing this was dangerous, he took the risk, leading him to a story of hope, a glimmer of light.
The Salt of the Earth
Ji Ho began tuning into the radio her father left behind, unaware of the stories he had heard. One day, she heard through the tiny transistor, “You are the salt of the earth…If salt loses its taste, what good is it?” In a single moment, Ji Ho was reconnected with the memory of her father. These were the exact words he had spoken to her. He had told her of a wise teacher who taught about being the salt of the earth; little did she know, this teacher was Jesus.
Like other Christians in North Korea, learning more and more about Jesus through the radio led her to pray, which led to comfort in fear of religious persecution, which led to action. Despite being unable to speak about Jesus, Ji Ho decided that the only way forward was to practice ‘saltiness.’ She shared food with her neighbours despite her lack, a true representation of God’s love.
About the Radio Ministry
Open Doors operates a radio ministry outside of North Korea that reaches thousands of secret believers in North Korea each day. North Korea only officially sells radios that are tuned to state frequencies, so Christians in North Korea must find radios on the black market or get radios through our secret networks in China.
Daily broadcasts include things like Scripture reading, Bible studies, and more. They even include theological instruction to help the underground church inside North Korea grow in faith and wisdom. Our goal is to help secret believers throughout the country know God’s love and to help them educate the next generation of Christians in North Korea.
Our sources in North Korea tell us that Christians in North Korea want to be equipped to share the gospel when the country opens up. For now, many of them act as the hands and feet of Jesus, serving their neighbours with food and compassion, hoping for the chance to share the love and hope of Jesus. They embody Jesus’ call to love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.
* Editor’s note: Ji-Ho’s story is based on several true accounts of life in North Korea. While details have been created or combined to protect any specific person or place from identification, this story is a look at what life is actually like for Christians in North Korea.