Interview North Korea | 13-2-2023

Interview: Sister R and Sister J secretly support North Korean refugees


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Sister R and J (names changed) are secret Open Doors fieldworkers - supporting North Korean refugee women. In this interview, they explain the transformations they've seen - and how you're helping.

Why do North Korean women become refugees?

Sister R: It is normally because of their financial situation. During the pandemic, the government had to close the borders and block people from travelling and that caused serious famine inside the country, so it is very difficult now too.

You have to be a government official or very high class to get permission to leave the country, so many of these women flee illegally, and they automatically become traitors. If they are caught, they will be brought back to their home country for a trial and possibly go to prison.

When the women leave their country, what problems do they face there?

Sister R: As the women travel illegally, they normally need a broker, and sometimes they are deceived by the brokers. At first the brokers tell the women they will connect them to a safe place where they can find jobs. But many times, the women are sold into marriage. Some of them are trafficked into the countryside where they are sold to families to have a baby or to be a wife.


"Every new lady is really precious for us."

Sister J
No passport and no ID, so they do not officially exist. Any ladies who are captured by the officials or police have to be deported back to North Korea because they are illegal escapers. Those ladies are hiding around the remote areas, in the mountains and countryside, and our lady fieldworkers go to visit their villages to have a Bible study group.

How does the ministry change women’s lives?

Sister J: They are all brainwashed by the North Korean regime. At the beginning, they are afraid of hearing the gospel and hard to open their hearts. We must pray a lot to prepare ourselves and prepare them to come to the meeting. And God will be the one who opens their heart.

Every new lady is really precious for us. When we hear that one visitor or one new person has come to our ministry, that is really precious.

Sister R: As time goes by, the sisters come just to hear the talks from the field workers and to share the Bible verses. Through this they encounter Jesus Christ. They really listen to the Bible verses and sermons and sometimes they get baptised. Some even volunteer to be the leader of the group so they can better understand other sisters and care for them.

What would happen if the ministry was discovered?

Sister R: If the women are caught, they will be deported to North Korea, if there is any evidence that they have had contact with Christian or South Korean, they will be sent to a political prison camp - or even executed. If someone is caught with Christian materials, the whole family will be sent to a political prison camp, even they are innocent.

"We have to take risks. God loves each of the women so much."

Sister J
Sometimes workers have to travel long hours and there is the risk that during the travel there could be threats or mistakes made. If things go very wrong, the fieldworkers have to escape too. And maybe the whole ministry will be shut down.

Sister J: We have to take risks. But even though we know it is not safe, we still have to do it. God loves each of the women so much. We really want to share God’s love to them, and let them know there is an amazing God who helps them and who will be with them all the time.

We cannot prevent all the risks, but we do everything we can to protect ourselves and the people who come to our meetings. Everything is hidden and the meetings are secret so they cannot be tracked down or followed.

Every HK$240
could give Bibles to five believers fleeing extreme persecution
But the women are ready for any risk. They keep coming because they really want to learn more about the Bible and know Christ more.
Sister R: Our fieldworkers say it doesn’t matter how much time they spend or how much effort they put in because it’s about spreading the gospel to those women who symbolise the women of North Korea. It’s also about strengthening the church inside North Korea. We cannot go inside the country, but these women will eventually form a church in North Korea.

How do the women inspire your own faith?

Sister J: They never lose their hope. They are so excited to know Jesus Christ, even though they are still suffering and hiding. They are full of joy in Christ. They give thanks for everything, even the small things they have and the small things we share with them. They give thanks to God, to us and all supporters, though they have never met you and don’t know your names and faces.

"They give thanks to all the supporters, though they have never met you."

Sister J
God’s grace is powerful. They are overflowing with joy and hope. It is only possible because God walks with them. We feel God’s presence, and God is really working though our ministry.

We need a lot of prayer from supporters all over the world. It is not just us who are doing this, but all of us together are working for God’s kingdom.

How do the prayers and gifts of Open Doors supporters help?

Sister R: The ministry itself is based on the prayers of the brothers and sisters around the world.

There were times when they were stopped by the guards. Those were very dangerous times because the ministry’s location could be revealed. But the guards checked the people in front of them and they just passed over the fieldworkers and check the people behind them. The fieldworker thinks, “What’s happening? Why don’t they check us?” And then they say “Oh, it’s surely a miracle!” It’s through the prayers of the brothers and sisters around the world they avoid the dangers.

There were many testimonies from the fieldworkers that they experienced something very unusual and something very heavenly because of your prayers. There were times when they were discouraged because things seem so closed down and seem not to be working. But during their prayers they felt, “Surely brothers and sisters around the world are praying for me, because I have this sudden light of courage.”

"We can do the ministry because you pray for us and you support us."

Sister J
Sister J: Our ladies ministry is not only done by us. We all are doing it together. We share the gospel, but you are the ones who send us there. God gives you a heart to support us and pray for us.

We can do the ministry because you pray for us and you support us. God is answering your prayers through our work. Even though you cannot see it with your own eyes, there is so much spiritual fruit from your prayers and support.

How can supporters pray for the North Korean women and this ministry?

Sister J: Pray for safety first. Safety for our fieldworkers as they minister and also for the ladies who are coming to our ministry. They are in danger, so they need God’s protection.
Pray for more fieldworkers to work together for our ministry. It is risky work, so not many people want to take the risk.

Also pray for their physical and spiritual support. And for our fieldworkers’ families, because they cannot take care of their families as they have to go out to do ministry. They sacrifice willingly, but still they need some support as well.

"Pray for the ladies who come to the meetings."

Sister R
Sister R: Pray for the ladies who come to the meetings – that they will choose to come despite possible opposition from their husbands and in-laws. And many of the sisters also have to travel far. So please pray they will not be open to any threat when they travel.

Pray for the health of the ladies because many of them do harsh work, like farming. Sometimes they have to work to support the families they have left in North Korea, so when they come to the meetings, they are sacrificing their time instead of choosing to work.

Finally, is there a Bible verse that particularly encourages you and the women you support?

Sister J: Of course, there are many! One example is Galatians 2:20: “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
please pray
  • For secret Open Doors fieldworkers to be able to continue their ministry, without being arrested or persecuted
  • Praise God for the North Korean refugee women who are learning about Jesus, and pray for more to encounter and choose to follow Him
  • For safety and strength for all the women attending these Bible studies
Please give

  • Every HK$240 could give Bibles to five believers fleeing extreme persecution
  • Every HK$430 could provide refugees fleeing extreme persecution with a food package and essential medicine
  • Every HK$550 could provide spiritual and financial support to three believers fleeing extreme persecution