“But he answered, ‘It is written, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’” Matthew 4:4 (ESV)
Each morning, I wake up thinking about what I need to do that day to meet my work quota.
My husband and I are exiles living somewhere in the mountains of North Korea. We were taken here when we were caught with a Bible. As soon as the authorities realized we were Christians, our lives as we knew them were over.
From early morning, at 6 a.m., to dusk, we are forced to work these barren fields. The work here is hard. If we don’t harvest enough crops, we will be beaten and have no time to forage for food for ourselves.
All of us who live here are starving. Because we are part of what our government calls “the hostile class,” we get very little food rations, usually watery soup; hunger is a constant companion. As always, we live firmly in the suffering march (what North Koreans refer to as famine). I have accepted that I will live in this village until I die.
Although it was difficult, I did manage to escape one time to China to bring back food and medicine. The leaders of the safe house where I hid gave me a new Bible and offered me the chance to stay there. But I could not abandon my family and church, however small it may be.
To some, a life of suffering this way may appear cursed. However, I have come to realize, my sister, that this suffering is a blessing from our Father, who has allowed it in our lives because it is a shortcut to Him. I deeply understand Jesus’ words when He quotes Deuteronomy 8:3 in Matthew 4:4: “Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.” That means any life that follows His words is blessed. He knows our suffering and listens to our prayers.
His words and blessings strengthen me to strengthen others. In this place where guards are constantly on watch, my husband and I have secretly shared our faith and introduced many others to His Word. I feel Jesus’ presence each evening I silently pull on my cloak, slip out the front door and make my way through the village into the forest where my Bible is hidden in a plastic bag. In most areas of North Korea, Christians must bury their Bibles in the ground to avoid authorities discovering them in random searches.
When I get home, my housemates are waiting — they’ve already covered the windows with blankets and lit a small candle. With everyone gathered tightly around me, I open the Bible, and in a voice barely above a whisper, I read God’s Word. This is our church service, and my husband and I are blessed to lead it.
I have learned that gratitude in every circumstance and situation keeps me focused on Jesus. I am so thankful that I am still strong enough to be poured out and used as His servant, and I desire to dedicate my life, until death, to glorify Him.
When our Bible was found by the authorities before we were taken to this village, it was immediately destroyed, burned in the fire. But His Word, as you know, lives in us. In you and me. (Psalm 119:11) And nothing can separate us from the love of our Father — not death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come. (Romans 8:31-39)
Thank you for praying for me and the other believers in our village and country. I believe God’s Word that one day all knees will bow and all tongues will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. And I pray for that day. With your prayers, we will spread the gospel throughout North Korea.
God, thank You for Your Word that brings light and life in every situation. I thank You for hearing my prayers — and using me as Your servant. Please strengthen my family in faith around the world who are persecuted in Your name. Give them Your peace that passes all understanding and embolden them to share Your Good News. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
OUR FAVORITE THINGS
Persecuted Christians like Bae ask you to pray with them to stand strong in their suffering. Will you commit to pray with them through Open Doors USA? Download the Pray for the Persecuted smartphone app to receive real-time notifications and prayer requests straight from persecuted believers.
Bae is a real woman leading a secret church in North Korea, but her story has been slightly changed to ensure she cannot be identified. Where changes or additions were made, they are based on other firsthand accounts of life for Christians in North Korea.
Learn more from Bae and other persecuted Christians at OpenDoorsUSA.org.
FOR DEEPER STUDY
Psalm 119:73-74, “Your hands have made and fashioned me; give me understanding that I may learn your commandments. Those who fear you shall see me and rejoice, because I have hoped in your word.” (ESV)
How is God strengthening you to strengthen others in your life?
What can you do this week to build your trust and hope in Jesus even in the difficult times? Join us in the comments today.
© 2022 by Bae from North Korea. All rights reserved.
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