During my three years at seminary, I was trained to be a pastor through 90 credit hours of rigorous academic study. While I’m thankful for my education, I’ve also realized that training is never complete when only book learning is involved.
At Voice of the Martyrs Korea, we facilitate a two year training school (UU) for North Korean defectors who want to be missionaries to their own people. With 80% of all defectors still communicating with their family and friends in North Korea, it is one of the most effective ways to reach North Korea with the gospel.
At our two year training school, the students are required to be involved in much more than academics. Hearing the word (academics) is extremely important, but doing the word (active ministry) holds equal footing. For example, in any given week our UU students are visiting people in the hospital, leading worship in someone’s apartment, and going on a mission trip to work with North Korean orphans or defectors.
The below testimony is from KSS on her most recent trip to Thailand. She is shown in the above picture preparing food for the NK defectors she was ministering to. She has been in our academic classes for over a year now, but I want you to see the changes that took place in her through “hands-on” education.
After coming back from a recent mission trip to Thailand, KSS shared the life-changing lesson she learned. Along with one of our staff members and another UU student, KSS teamed up with a missionary in Thailand to meet defectors as they crossed the Laos/Thailand border. Once an NK crosses the border into Thailand, they are relatively safe, but they are often emotionally spent with no money and are easily taken advantage of. On the other hand, missionaries who work with NK defectors in Thailand are not safe. If they are caught, they face a sentence of twelve years in jail.
KSS had done missionary work before through UU, but she was deeply touched when she realized the selflessness and commitment it takes to be a full-time missionary in Thailand. As she observed the missionary from Thailand work, she understood that because of her own pride and selfish attitudes, God needed to do great work in her. We considered this a major breakthrough, as many NKs struggle with only wanting to be served and not wanting to give to others.
This is one of the main purposes in taking our UU students on mission trips. There is immense value in the service opportunity itself, but we are most interested in seeing them grow and develop through the service.
In early June, during our most recent Thailand training, the UU students ministered to five brand-new defectors who had just crossed into Thailand. Three of those defectors were from the same family – a mother (KO) and her two children. After defecting to China, KO had been sold three times to three separate Chinese men. As a result of being a victim of sex-trafficking, she had a total of four children, two of which are still in China. HO had difficulty walking because of her broken ribs and bruised waist that she received from one of these men. She was also just as damaged emotionally, and we saw her sorrow and anger bubble over during our time in Thailand.
KSS and BBS (another UU student) spent a considerable amount of time caring for her and sharing the gospel with her. Through the students’ efforts and more importantly the work of the Holy Spirit, KO received the Lord and started on her journey of a new life in Christ!
KSS has really blossomed during her UU training. She has become bolder in sharing the gospel and in praying for people. Whenever she senses that someone is sick, she will undoubtedly stop whatever she’s doing and pray for them. I don’t know how she would have done in my 90 credit hour seminary program, but I know that the ministry that she is doing today is beyond what most of my classmates would ever dream.