Living in a nation where her daughter’s growing faith in Christ was punishable by life imprisonment in labor camps or immediate execution, and where their only source of food was often wild grass and tree bark, Songhawa saw no other option but to take her two daughters and escape into China in 1998. Her mother and two young sons had already died of stavation, and her husband and eldest daughter were killed in their attempts to find food for their family.
As a single mother with no resources at all, Songhwa was forced to marry a Chinese Korean man to help her family survive. The marriage only lasted four years before he abandoned the family to survive on their own. In time, they were taken in and cared for by a Korean American pastor. At one point, they were forced to spend an entire year in hiding, never leaving their small hiding room shared with ten other refugees, for fear of being arrested and repatriated to North Korea. During this time, all of the women were taught about Christ and began to grow in faith.
In 2005, Chinese police discovered and arrested the three women. While serving a one year sentence in jail, Jinhye was hospitalized when her guards became concerned that her legs might have to be amputated due to the torture she had endured at their hands. Fortunately, God blessed her with a miraculous healing that left her jailers and doctors in wonder. Other refugees began to question her strength, hope and miraculous healing, and in very covert ways, Jinye was able to share her faith with them. Eventually the women were repatriated to North Korea, but again by God’s miraculous grace, they were not sentenced to death or life imprisonment, but to detention camps. In the course of their fight for survival, they escaped to China and were repatriated four times, surviving admist all odds.
In 2007, another North Korean defector provided the family with $10,000 which they use to bribe a border guard and safely cross back into China. After waiting one and a half years in hiding, they were finally given official refugee status by the United Nations High Commissioner Refugees, and have been safely settled in the USA since 2008.
Courtesy of International Christian Concern, Newsletter August 2011, North Korea: Exposed
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