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.