I want to share one last experience with you from my recent trip to meet with a group of people risking their lives to rescue North Korean Christians. It served as a powerful reminder not to take for granted the freedoms most of us live in everyday. Enjoy.
I'm running. All around me, Koreans are pounding the ground as well. Their legs are moving as fast as their lungs enable. We were running hard...but nobody is chasing.
South Korea has embraced the jogging culture like many countries around the world. This morning, I was out with a few others, running for pleasure through the Seoul metroplex where almost 70% of South Korea's population lives. The city is located just one hour from the North Korean border, one of the most heavily fortified areas in the world, where a war is still being waged.
Watching the runners in Seoul is always a reminder of the stark differences between the two Korean worlds. South Koreans have freedom, prosperity, and the ability to worship as they desire. And yet just 35 miles from the city limits, their North Korean counterparts are experiencing almost the exact opposite.
But North Korea does have runners. Many persecuted believers or those facing starvation have risked a life on the run by fleeing their countries guarder borders. The impenetrable fortification between the North and the South means defectors have to escape through China, a country hostile to their presence. Hiding and running are the only ways to survive until safe passage can be found to South Korea.
It's evening now and our small team is traveling Seoul's glowing streets by car. With us is Hana, a recent escapee from North Korea who is part of a growing church community that offers counseling, education, and discipleship for defectors. Alpha Relief has aided many like her and she has gracefully offered to share her story with us.
It is a story full of pain and hardship. Hana was captured in China begging for food. Back inside North Korea, she was tortured and physically abused after guards linked her to a convicted Christian family member. When she was finally released, she and her small daughter avoided border guards but nearly drowned crossing the river to get back into China. For three years the pair lived on the run until finally they connected with a safe house network offering passage to Seoul.
In the backseat of the car, my leg muscles are showing signs of soreness from the morning's workout. I wonder to myself if Hana will ever be able to look at running as a pleasurable activity. So much has changed for this young mother but I know the culture shock will take a long time to get over. North Koreans are told Americans are the evil enemy. And yet here she is, riding in a car with us, smiling as she tells of God's loving provision in bringing her salvation and freedom.
Others Need Your Help Right Now...
Many others just like Hana ache to share beautiful endings to their stories. It is so encouraging to meet these incredibly brave men and women face to face. Right now, five North Korean escapees are currently in one of our sponsored safe houses. Each one waits for the necessary $2500, funds that provide safe passage and a new life. Will you be one who comes to their aid? Every little bit helps.
May we all continuing running the race set before us, doing our part to join in God's great rescue of His Bride.