Final Postcard from China [Along the North Korean Border]

29 Apr

Final Postcard from China [Along the North Korean Border]

A North Korean boatman on the Yalu, one of the rivers that divides China and North Korea

Dear Friends,

I’ve spent my last week in China visiting three cities along its border with North Korea. For several years, Heaven’s Family has partnered with Alpha Relief, a ministry that focuses on serving the underground church inside North Korea. I met with several of Alpha Relief’s courageous partners, some of whom regularly travel into North Korea—one of the most anti-Christian nations in the world—taking food and Bibles.

China’s 764-mile border with North Korea is defined by two rivers, the Tumen and Yalu. North Korean soldiers patrol portions of both rivers, with orders to shoot their fellow citizens who attempt to escape. Every month, hunger motivates hundreds of North Koreans to make the crossing. Many succeed, and they return to North Korea with food for their starving family members. If they are discovered in China, Chinese authorities send them back to North Korea where they will likely be sent to one of its infamous labor camps. Every knowledgeable person with whom I spoke agreed that food shortages are critical in North Korea. I can’t share the details, but Alpha Relief manages to smuggle tons of food across the border to nourish networks of underground churches, and we’re glad to help them.

One highlight of the week was a speed boat trip on the Yalu River that, with the help of a small gift to the boat driver, brought us within a stone’s throw of North Korea. That gave us excellent opportunities to photograph North Koreans along the shore (as in the photo above). Although North Koreans are relentlessly taught from birth that Americans are their greatest enemies, we found that just about every North Korean smiled when we waved at them (with the exception of soldiers, who hid their faces when we aimed our cameras at them).

Because of gifts to our North Korean Christians Fund, I was blessed to be able to direct the use of $35,000 to help North Korea’s underground Christians. That money will not only provide food relief inside North Korea, but will also provide the means to help some believers actually escape from North Korea (and be relocated to safe countries). Specifically, our gifts will help believers escape who are in danger of being sent to labor camps for illegal Christian activities. Again, I can’t share the details of exactly how that is accomplished, but Alpha Relief has successfully accomplished these missions in the past. In a few weeks, I’ll be sending out an email asking you to help Alpha Relief succeed in an even more amazing deliverance—of a sister in Christ who is currently already incarcerated in a North Korean labor camp serving an eight-year sentence.

Thank you again for your prayers. Below are a few more photos that I thought you might find interesting. Unfortunately, I can’t show you any photos of the courageous believers whom we met, as it might compromise their security.


I photographed this North Korean soldier along the Yalu River just before he hid his face behind his fur collar

In one city, I had a wonderful opportunity to spend time at a coffee shop with these Chinese university students who gathered to practice their English. The assigned topic that evening was “The meaning of Easter.” What a night we had practicing our English!

A lesson in economics: The buildings in the foreground are in China (now probably more capitalist and less socialist economically than the U.S.), while across the river is one of North Korea’s most prosperous cities, Sinuiju. I took this photo from the window of a modern 28-story hotel in the Chinese city of Dandong. Dandong is a bustling, modern city of impressive tall buildings. On the North Korean side are crumbling gray concrete homes and buildings, the legacy of communism. The next three photos also make this illustration.

The Chinese city of Dandong on the left (including the bridge and island) and the North Korean city of Sinuiju on the right side of the Yalu River

A partial view of the Chinese city of Dandong’s shoreline, taken from the North Korea side of the Yalu River

A partial view of the North Korean city of Sinuiju’s shoreline, taken from the Chinese side of the river. In the nighttime, Sinuiju was practically all dark.

Two other North Koreans on the Yalu River. Notice the red pin on the one man’s coat. That is a mandatory pin that all adult North Koreans must wear donning a picture of their “dear leader,” Kim Jong Il, or of his father, both elevated to the status of gods by the North Korean propaganda machine.


2 Recent Comments

  • Mary

    It’s great to hear of Christian love going into these bleak places of the world.

  • Edward

    I am glad to hear that Christ’s word is making its way into the darkness that is North Korea.

    Having served our nation, the United States, in that region of the world I am well acquainted with the nation that is North Korea. While serving our nation during the Cold War on the DMZ I faced the best the North Korean’s had in terms of special forces.

    North Korea is a black and dismal corrupt place and what ever can be done to bring the light of Christ into should be done. Knowing the North Korean’s as I do, I realize this is a hard and dangerous mission, but nothing can stop the spirit of the lord when the lord is moved by the plight of those that have come to embrace him.

    God Bles You and Yours in your mission and may the wisdom and spirit of the Lord guide you in bringing the light into the darkness.

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