She doesn’t look like someone who would fearlessly take on one of the most hostile regimes on the planet. She’s a grandmother who loves Jesus…and who frequently crosses China’s border into North Korea. Each time, she clandestinely smuggles in enough food to feed large numbers of Christian families. She is the answer to their prayers. All of them are suffering severe food shortages under the despotic rule of a megalomaniac dictator named Kim Jong Il.
I met her in a Chinese hotel. I can’t tell you her real name, but I’ll call her Mrs. Lee. I also can’t tell you exactly how she transports food into North Korea, but I can tell you her story.
Mrs. Lee’s beloved husband died many years ago, and it was while she was grieving over his death that the Lord spoke to her: “I want you to go to North Korea.” When she told her adult children, they tried to sway her against the Lord’s instructions, but she would not be persuaded.
Like many who live in her region of China, Mrs. Lee is a Chinese citizen of Korean ancestry with relatives who live in North Korea. This makes periodic visits across the border legally possible. She has taken advantage of those opportunities to carry in what is permitted as well as what is not permitted…Bibles, hidden in bags of rice. She also shares the gospel house-to-house in North Korea, and many have come to the Lord through her ministry. Once someone reported her to the North Korean police, who apprehended and extensively questioned her for three days before deporting her.
She told me that during the terrible food shortages of the 1990s, it was much easier to cross the border because guards could easily be bribed with food. Even though current food shortages in North Korea are just as severe, guards are now difficult to bribe because they face immediate execution if caught. That has proven to be no deterrent to Mrs. Lee, however, because the Lord has made a way. With the help of sympathetic Chinese authorities, creative use of permits, and a little covert activity, Mrs. Lee is able to regularly transport large amounts of food across the border—without the need for any bribes. She’s sneaky!
It was a special thrill for me to meet someone whom Heaven’s Family has been helping to serve the “least of these” among our spiritual family inside one of the most oppressive nations in the world. Because of gifts to the North Korean Christians Fund, soon after I met our “undercover grandmother,” we were able to fund 21 additional tons of food that has made its way to North Korean believers during the past six months.