Third in a series of weekly posts by Mr. Bae, the co-author with Pastor Foley of These are the Generations, the story of third generation North Korean Christians. For Part I, click here. In today’s post, Mr. Bae details the first time he ever saw the word of God in print and the indelible impact that had on his post-imprisonment life.
In North Korea, God is the one force more powerful than Kim Il Sung.
My perspective on North Korea was dramatically different the day I stumbled out of prison than the day I was dragged in.
What I came to realize is: Of course North Koreans are not living well. That’s because the land is polluted with idols. Every person wears a Kim Il Sung button. Every mountain extols his virtues. Even the smallest village has a study center dedicated to his life.
North Korea tried to take everything away from me because I turned away from its idols in order to worship the one true God. But all North Korea managed to take away from me was its illusions.
Once I could see clearly I realized that far more important than a house or food or even physical health is the word of God.
What I will remember most from my post-imprisonment time in North Korea is not the house or health I lost but the one tiny, torn, and tattered 15 cm by 20 cm booklet I gained.
My mother went to China and brought the booklet back for me. It was not fancy, but it was crammed with learning material for the new believer.
Now, please understand: When I was growing up my mother had taught us the 10 Commandments and many stories from the Bible, but I had never seen the word of God in written form before.
I had never seen even a single Bible verse written on a single scrap of paper. So to see the word of God written even in this tiny booklet made my heart stop.
To think that you now launch New Testaments into North Korea by balloon is beyond my ability to comprehend.
I was alive because of God’s work, so I was desperate to know more about Him. That is why my mother risked her life and I risked mine so that I could receive this tiny booklet. I knew I had to teach my own children more fully than I had been able to do before I went to prison.
Most prisoners emerge from prison bitter and broken. But because of the word of God I absorbed from that booklet, I became gentle and patient.
(To be continued next week…)