Jin Sang awoke, wondering where she was and how long she’d been unconscious. Her head throbbed with pain, and she could hardly open her left eye. She could feel cold metal cutting into her wrists, restraining her to a chair. As Jin fully regained an awareness of her surroundings, she also realized that a uniformed man stood over her—the source, she now had no doubt, of her pain and her blackout.
Three days earlier, Jin had received a much-anticipated visit from Tae Mi, a Chinese businesswoman who has been legally visiting her own relatives in North Korea for years—but also secretly bringing food and other relief supplies to Jin and other North Korean Christians. As a leader in her underground house church, Jin uses a cell phone—illegal in North Korea—to contact Tae Mi in China to coordinate her clandestine deliveries.
During Tae Mi’s visit, the tiny church held a worship service where they praised God for providing for their needs. The church’s meeting was abruptly interrupted, however, when two policemen smashed through the front door and began beating Jin and other church members. Searching the house, one officer found Jin’s cell phone. “Who does this belong to?” he demanded. Jin knew the harsh consequences of possessing a cell phone, but quickly admitted ownership so that others would not be blamed. Both Jin and Tae Mi were dragged from the house to the police station for interrogation.
The police chief, questioning Tae Mi separately, shoved a piece of paper in front of her that had been discovered at the church meeting. “What is this?” he demanded. It was the Lord’s Prayer, written in Korean by Tae Mi, which she intended to leave with Jin’s congregation. Suddenly bold, Tae Mi looked into the chief’s eyes and spoke the truth: “It is a prayer to my God that I say to give great peace in times of trouble” she said. “I want to offer your people His love and give them the gift of food and peace when they have none.”
The powerful man looked at her stunned. Then to Tae Mi’s astonishment, the chief glanced back down at the words and recited them aloud. When he was finished he looked at her again. “Maybe your God has given you a way out,” he mumbled, and without another word he left the room.
The next day Tae Mi was released without explanation, but she knew that her friend Jin Sang still faced severe punishment. She quickly came up with a plan. Gathering emergency funds she’d received from Heaven’s Family’s partners, Tae Mi offered the police money in exchange for Jin. They accepted her bribe, as they always do.
In her jail cell, Jin’s head still throbbed with pain from her beating. As a police officer entered her cell, she recoiled, expecting another blow. To her amazement, however, he released her from the shackles, lifted her to her feet, and pulled her outside. The bright daylight blinded her for a moment, but she soon recognized the familiar face of her friend Tae Mi. They embraced and left the prison, rejoicing in their deliverance.
Although Jin and the small church she faithfully serves were shaken, they remain faithful. With the help of gifts to the North Korean Christians Fund, Tae Mi saved her friend’s life, and she continues to provide food and other life-sustaining aid to her church.