A pastor on the China-North Korea border shared the hope of the Gospel with at least 1,000 North Koreans before he was assassinated for his missionary work in 2016, a defector has revealed.
The Rev. Han Chung-Ryeol, a Chinese pastor of Korean descent, was on Pyongyang’s most-wanted list as early as 2003 for his charitable work and dedication to spreading the Gospel.
Han, who ministered on the border town of Changbai since the early 1990s, ministered to thousands of North Koreans over the years — many of whom had fled the famine-stricken country in search of food and jobs. The pastor provided practical aid, such as food and clothing, and introduced each person to the Gospel before sending them back to North Korea to share Christ and help their families.
After planting a Three-Self Church near the North Korean border in 1993, Han helped orphans, women enslaved to prostitution, soldiers, those starving from famine, and many others. One man helped by Han, Sang-chul, shared his story in a short documentary released by The Voice of the Martyrs.
“In primary school, we were taught that all missionaries were terrorists,” Sang-chul says in the video through a translator. “They told us that a missionary will be nice to you at first, but when they get you into their homes, then they will kill you and eat your liver.”
The North Korean said he didn’t have work or food in his village, so like others, he snuck across the mountain border into China. Along the way, he picked mushrooms in hopes of selling them in a market.
“I don’t speak Chinese at all, but in the mountains, I met a man. He said, ‘I can sell those for you.’ And he didn’t cheat me. He gave me all the money from the sale and at that time, I didn’t know he was Pastor Han,” Sang-chul recalled.
“Over the next two years I went back several times,” he continued. “Each time, Pastor Han helped me. One day, I asked why he’d do this, for he himself was in great danger for assisting a North Korean.”
“It is because I am a Christian,” Han said.
And then one day Han told him: “God is real. There is hope for every person.” But Sang-chul wondered why anyone would say “Hananim,” the word for God.
“I could not believe he would say that word, ‘God.’ Nobody says that word,” Sang-chul said. “We know that it is an act of treason. To speak the name of God can lead to soldiers coming in the night.”
There would be no trial over such a crime, he said, and “no one will ever dare ask where you have gone.”
Soon, Sang-chul became convinced Christianity was true and asked the pastor for a Bible. At first, Han was hesitant, not wanting to put his friend in harm’s way.
“But over time, I persuaded him,” Sang-chul said. “I showed the Bible to my wife. At first, she refused to even look at it … she knew that if anyone reported that you had even glanced at a Bible, you would be arrested, and not just you. You and all your relatives sent to the concentration camps for years and years.”
But over time, Sang-chul’s wife also embraced Christianity and found hope: “It was very dangerous for me to share,” he said.
One day, in the summer of 2016, Sang-chul heard that some North Koreans were being honored for their work of killing a Christian “terrorist” missionary.
“We knew it was Pastor Han,” he said. “Who else could it be? We were frightened. Did they know he was my friend? Did they know I had met with him many times?”
VOM reported in 2016 that Han was brutally murdered in Changbai, China. Just 49 at the time of his death, the pastor’s mangled body was discovered just hours after he left his church building in Changbai.
“Pastor Han gave his life, but he gave hope to me and to many other North Koreans,” Sang-chul said. “And despite the ever-present danger, many of us will continue to share the message that God is real.”
The North Korean Christian concludes by saying: “We hope that our sacrifice, when the day comes, will be worthwhile, just like it was for Pastor Han.”
VOM encourages people to “pray for the courageous Christians who risk their lives daily to share the hope of Christ in North Korea.”
North Korea has for the last 18 years ranked as the worst persecutor of Christians in the world on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List. In the hermit country, those who profess Christ or are caught communicating with missionaries face severe repercussions like torture and imprisonment.
No definitive estimates exist on how many people have died inside North Korean political camps but some believe the number ranges from 400,000 to many millions.
Irish Bishop Against Practicing Yoga in Christian Schools
An Irish bishop has written to Catholic schools urging them to ban yoga as it is ‘not of Christian origin’ and the children should spend their time ‘in adoration of Jesus’ instead.
Bishop Alphonsus Cullinan, wrote to principals, teachers and school staff members in Waterford City and County, Ireland, on October 10.
In his letter, he said: ‘Yoga is not of Christian origin and is not suitable for our parish school setting and especially not during religious education time.
‘I have been asked by several people to say a word on yoga and mindfulness. My question is, ‘Will they bring us closer to God or replace him?’
The bishop claimed that Christian Mindfulness is ‘meditation on Christ’ which empties the mind of ‘everything unnecessary’ in order to become ‘aware of the presence and love of Christ’.
While he also quoted Pope Francis that practices like yoga are ‘not capable of opening our hearts up to God’.
The bishop added how people can ‘take a million courses in spirituality’ but this activity ‘will never be able to give you freedom’, echoing Pope Francis’s speech in 2015.
He said Pope Francis’s philosophy was in keeping with Ireland’s Grow In Love programme. This touches on Christian doctrine, Scripture, morality and prayer.
Teacher’s were reminded that October is the ‘month of the Rosary’ and they should each pray in a bid to get closer to Jesus, in the letter.
But the primary school curriculum allows a degree of flexibility about how its implemented, according to the Irish National Teachers Organisation, who hit-back at his view.
John Stokes, a yoga instructor in Waterford, said the practice of yoga, meditation and mindfulness should be ’embraced’ in ‘an age where children are really suffering from anxiety and stress’.
‘There is no dogma taught in our classes and Yoga in it’s truest sense is a movement and breath awareness practice for health and wellbeing.
They said ‘here’s to tolerance, love and unity’ and invited him to a one-to-one yoga session or class of his choice’ at their Wellness Centre in Youghal, Ireland.
The Irish National Teachers Organisation said the primary school curriculum allows schools a certain amount of flexibility and autonomy with regard to its implementation.
They said the schools ‘are best placed’ to make the decisions about how the subjects are taught, taking into consideration the ‘school culture, ethos and needs of the pupils’.
This is not the first time Bishop Cullinan has received backlash for his views as he said he was to establish a ‘delivery ministry’ group to rid people of the devil through exorcism, last year.
He also claimed the cervical cancer vaccine could lead to promiscuity in 2017.
The bishop said the vaccine ‘lulls girls into false sense of security’ and encourages sexual activity, adding: ‘Prevention, the number one and most effective protection, is abstinence. A good old traditional value.’
He later apologised and admitted he was not fully informed about the vaccination programme. Cullinan’s ‘intention was solely motivated to protect people from HPV’.
China Demolishes 3,000-Seat Megachurch during Worship Service
The People’s Republic of China destroyed a church that reportedly could seat 3,000 people and detained its pastors, according to a human rights organization.
An international nonprofit Christian human rights group based in Texas, reported the incident in a statement released Saturday. According to the group, Chinese authorities provided no legal papers to justify the demolition.
The church was located in Funan, Anhui province. Its pastors, Geng Yimin and Sun Yongyao, were detained under suspicion of “gathering a crowd to disturb social order.”
China Aid President Bob Fu said in a statement that the incident was “yet another clear example showing the escalation of religious persecution today by the Chinese Communist regime.”
“The total disregard of religious freedom’s protection as enshrined in the Communist Party’s own Constitution tells the whole world President Xi is determined to continue his war against the peaceful Christian faithful. This campaign will surely fail in the end.”
While China’s persecution of religious groups has existed for many years, recently under President Xi Jinping a wave of crackdowns on religious practices in China has taken place.
The Communist government has destroyed or damaged several churches, reflecting concerns about the increasing Christian population of the country.
In the summer, True Jesus Church in Henan province was razed to the ground, according to persecution watchdog Bitter Winter. Police officers reportedly dragged out all believers from the church before they demolished the property.
Bitter Winter also reported last month that the Ten Commandments have been removed from nearly every Three-Self church and meeting venue in a county of Luoyang city and replaced with the President Xi Jinping’s quotes as part of the Chinese Communist Party’s efforts to “sinicize” Christianity.
In addition to cracking down on its Christian minority, China has engaged in violent persecution of its Uighur Muslim and Falun Gong communities.
The China Tribunal, a human rights group, told the United Nations Human Rights Council last month that the Chinese government is harvesting organs from religious minorities, with possibly hundreds of thousands of victims.
“Forced organ harvesting from prisoners of conscience, including the religious minorities of Falun Gong and Uighurs, has been committed for years throughout China on a significant scale, and that it continues today. This involves hundreds of thousands of victims.”
“Victim for victim and death for death, cutting out the hearts and other organs from living, blameless, harmless, peaceable people constitutes one of the worst mass atrocities of this century.”
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