April 30, 2020 marks the fourth anniversary of the martyrdom of our dear brother and partner, Pastor Han Chung Ryeol. Pastor Han was the Korean Chinese pastor stabbed to death through his skull and heart in Changbai, China in 2016. But the story of Pastor Han’s ministry and death has continued to captivate Christians worldwide.
In the last year alone, Pastor Han’s story has been retold in a short film (in Korean, English, Russian, Chinese, and many other languages) that has been viewed by more than 100,000 church congregations worldwide; that same film has been watched by more than 400,000 viewers on YouTube; Pastor Han’s story was added to a new international edition of the 450 year old Foxe’s Book of Martyrs by our sister mission, Voice of the Martyrs US; and his story will be retold again this fall in an updated version of the international bestseller, Jesus Freaks. In many ways he has impacted more people for Christ after his death than before it.
Pastor Han was the pastor of Changbai Church and a longtime partner of Voice of the Martyrs Korea in providing discipleship, evangelism, and living necessities to the North Koreans who would cross the border into Changbai. He was found dead of multiple stab wounds in his car. Chinese authorities have not closed the case, but no information has been released by them about the motive or the killers since the time of his death.
Often governments just want situations like this to disappear. But in the case of Pastor Han, the story of his faithful life is continuing to appear in more and more countries around the world. Dr. Foley and I are especially excited that the film about Pastor Han has been shared with persecuted Christians in more than 70 countries. While Pastor Han would probably be embarrassed by all of the publicity, I am sure that he would be thankful that his story is able to continue to encourage the suffering church worldwide.
Voice of the Martyrs Korea partnered with our sister mission Voice of the Martyrs US and award-winning producer John Grooters on the film about Pastor Han, which was released in Korean, English, Russian, Chinese, and multiple other languages last fall. The film tells the story of one of the disciples of Pastor Han Chung-Ryeol, and about him carrying on the work of sharing the gospel when he hears that Pastor Han has been killed. Pastor Han shared his faith with at least 1,000 North Koreans before his death.
Voice of the Martyrs Korea released the Korean version of the film, an extended “director’s cut” which contains Korean dialogue and additional scenes not included in the English version. You can learn more at www.vomkorea.com/nkstory.
Pastor Han was our long-time friend and ministry partner. North Korea tried to silence him. China seems to hope his memory will fade away. But 1 John 2:17 says, “The world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.” So we believe that God is not only keeping alive but also amplifying the witness made by Pastor Han and his North Korean disciples, so that it is reaching Christians all over the world.
I encourage you to show the video during your worship services this week, whether you will be worshiping online or in person. But I also encourage you to share the video with your friends and families. The work Pastor Han began still continues four years after his death. It continues not only in North Korea and China, but now around the world. It can inspire us here in these challenging days to serve Christ faithfully, no matter the cost.