What’s Harder For A Persecuted Christian Than Being In Prison? Being Released From Prison, Says Mr. Bae (These Are The Generations Bonus Material, Part I)

generationsFirst in a series of weekly posts by Mr. Bae, the co-author with Pastor Foley of These are the Generationsthe story of third generation North Korean Christians. Mr. and Mrs. Bae and their children once enjoyed a prosperous existence in North Korean family, but their life was decimated following the North Korean government’s investigation of Mr. Bae on suspicion of Christian activity. Mr. Bae was held without charge in a North Korean jail for more than a year, but during that time his faith grew even as his health faltered. 

Though Mr. Bae was ultimately miraculously released from prison without being charged, the Baes were reduced to the life of vagabonds by the stigma of his imprisonment. They lost their home, job, friends, and health but gained something infinitely more valuable: deep, unshakable faith in Christ. While continually on the move ahead of the authorities, they raised their children in the faith and led other family members and former friends to Christ.

In this series Mr. Bae will be sharing a part of his life story that is not told in his book. It is the story of what happened when he was released from prison, a time that almost no one realizes is actually the hardest time of all, and thus the time when God’s grace shines the brightest.

I would like to share today on the subject of what life is like for the believer who, after being imprisoned for his faith in a hostile nation, is released from prison and permitted to return to his home.

I would like to begin by having you ask me a question that no one has yet asked me since I started sharing the story of my life:

“Which is harder, Mr. Bae: Being held in prison for more than a year without being charged, or being released from prison and allowed to return to your home and family?”

That may sound like a strange question to you, since you will think it obvious that life in prison is a difficult trial and life after being released from prison is a sweet victory.

But in a hostile country, living a life of faith in prison is often a sweet victory and life after being released from prison is almost always the most difficult trial of all.

In prison, even amidst the torture and unspeakable deprivations, there is seemingly endless time to pray, as the days slip by into months and years.

You can remember the story of your life and repent of your sins.

You can sing the hymns of faith and recite the Scriptures of the Bible in your head.

And you can experience Christ’s visitation and grace in so many ways.

But when you are released from prison, you quickly realize that the imprisonment was only a prelude of the torture that the state intends to put you through.

Though the state has released you from your prison cell, they cannot afford to look weak. So as you leave one jail you enter another jail that is much bigger: The whole country.

Out in the open they can now imprison not only you but your whole family.

The torture that once only fell on you now falls on them as well, and that is much harder to witness.

You lose your home.

You and your family are forced to become wanderers.

The government wants to turn you into beggars, and to force your children to drop out of school.

They want to see your illnesses overtake you while no one steps forward to offer medicine.

They follow you from the moment you walk out of the prison door.

Because of this, no one will associate with you.

The government makes sure that your only purpose in surviving is to be a lesson to others never to resist the will of the state.

But the grace of God is greater still.

(To be continued next week…)

About Pastor Foley

The Reverend Dr. Eric Foley is CEO and Co-Founder, with his wife Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, supporting the work of persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world and spreading their discipleship practices worldwide. He is the former International Ambassador for the International Christian Association, the global fellowship of Voice of the Martyrs sister ministries. Pastor Foley is a much sought after speaker, analyst, and project consultant on the North Korean underground church, North Korean defectors, and underground church discipleship. He and Dr. Foley oversee a far-flung staff across Asia that is working to help North Koreans and Christians everywhere grow to fullness in Christ. He earned the Doctor of Management at Case Western Reserve University's Weatherhead School of Management in Cleveland, Ohio.
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12 Responses to What’s Harder For A Persecuted Christian Than Being In Prison? Being Released From Prison, Says Mr. Bae (These Are The Generations Bonus Material, Part I)

  1. Wow, I’m glad that we will be hearing Mr. Bae post-prison story! It will give us more insight in how to pray for him and his family, and for our brothers and sisters in North Korea. :>}

  2. Pingback: For Persecuted Christians, Release From Prison Marks The Beginning Of The Pain, Not The End (These Are The Generations Bonus Material, Part II) | Do the Word

  3. Pingback: For Persecuted NK Christians, Release From Prison Marks The Beginning, Not The End, Of The Pain (These Are The Generations Bonus Material, Part II) | Do the Word

  4. ryanruckman says:

    I am so humbled and repentant before the Lord. Thank God for men who are strong in faith through Christ – these are the beautiful examples of modern heroes of the faith.

  5. Pingback: How North Korean Christians Avoid Becoming Bitter When They Are Imprisoned (These Are The Generations Bonus Material, Part III) | Do the Word

  6. Brad Yee says:

    Just read the book These Are The Generations. Deeply touched how the mother of Mr. Bae once said, “Why am I supposed to be afraid of anything? God is on my side, and he’ll make a way for us. Even in the hard times, he’ll solve all our problems. But why should we focus on the difficulties?” How their family came to understand the name Emmanuel is truly inspiring. Thank you for sharing their story with the world. God Bless your ministry.

    Brad Yee

    • EFoley says:

      Thank you for your kind and encouraging words here, Brad. The quote you selected from the book from Mr. Bae’s mother is one of my favorites as well. My actual favorite moment of the book is when Mrs. Bae crosses into China and is on the run but takes a moment to look back and is struck by the difference between the Christmas lights in China and the sheer darkness of North Korea. I wish you could have heard her tell the story in person.

  7. Pingback: How Do North Korean Christians Evangelize? (These Are The Generations Bonus Material, Part IV) | Do the Word

  8. Pingback: For North Korean Christians, Concentration Camps Are Mission Fields (These Are The Generations Bonus Material, Part V) | Do the Word

  9. Pingback: When Is A Prison Not A Prison? When There’s A Christian Inside Of It | Do the Word

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