Christians face persecution in China and North Korea where religious freedom is strictly monitored. The preaching and practice of Christianity in these countries during the 1990s or early 2000s was punishable by death so people stay away from it like a curse.
Rev. Han Chung-Ryeol, a Chinese pastor of Korean descent, was among China’s most-wanted list because of his ministry of God’s teachings on the border town of Changbai. He has been sharing his Christian faith since the early 1990s and didn’t fear persecution.
The reverend spread his reach to North Korea through Sang-chul, a North Korean. In the documentary “The Voice of the Martyrs,” Sang-chul recalled he met the Rev. Han when he snuck the mountain border into China to search for food.
Rev. Han offered to sell the mushrooms he collected and even gave him money. Over the next two years, the two developed a close bond and one day, the pastor revealed himself as a Christian to Sang-chul, which scared him because he learned from primary school that missionaries are terrorists.
“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,” Sang-chul says in the video.
However, it was their faithful meeting that led Sang-chul to discover the Christian faith and to dismiss everything he learned from school about it. Rev. Han continued to preach Christianity to him and even uttered the word “Hananim” or “God,” which Sang-chul says at the time was “an act of treason.” The reverend told him that “God is real. There is hope for every person.”
Sang-chul’s journey to his newfound faith happened after he asked for a Bible and shared the gospel with his wife and best friend. The scriptures gave them hope. Sadly, reverend Han was executed by North Korean assassins on April 30, 2016, but not before he has shared his Christian faith with more than 1000 North Koreans.
Now, Sang-chul wants to honor the pastor’s memory and his ministry by continuing his mission. Despite the fear, he says he will continue to spread the gospel and share his Christian faith. Sang-chul hopes that his sacrifice “will be worthwhile, just like it was for Pastor Han.”
VOM’s short film for International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church 2019, SANG-CHUL: NORTH KOREA, illustrates the challenges of following Christ inside North Korea, the world’s most restricted nation. The film will inspire you and your family, group, class, and church to pray for persecuted Christians in North Korea and around the world.