It wasn’t safe to be baptized in her hometown.
She could have been killed for confessing her faith in public.
So when she accepted Jesus, Bon-Hwa walked for hours to be baptized in a remote location.
Bon-Hwa* was born in North Korea, one of the world’s most dangerous countries for Christians.
In North Korea, approximately 300,000 believers face extreme persecution from the government. Christianity is an offense punishable by imprisonment, severe torture, and even death.
Kim Jong-un is revered as a deity by North Korean citizens and officials, who view Christians with suspicion because of their worship of Christ.
According to the ministry Open Doors USA, “Kim Jong-un has maintained tight control over the populace, and dissent or worshiping anything else is not tolerated.”
Bon-Hwa herself was not a Christian when she fled from North Korea. She was merely another citizen who had felt the fear of Kim Jong-un’s oppressive regime.
When Bon-Hwa crossed the border into China, she wasn’t sure where to go for help. Chinese law forbids Chinese citizens to help North Korean refugees, and North Korean women are often sold into prostitution or forced marriages in China.
But Bon-Hwa was blessed enough to encounter staff from Open Doors USA, who have set up “safe houses” along the China-North Korea border to receive and protect North Korean Christians and other refugees.
The operators of these safe houses take enormous risks every day to support believers and hide them from the North Korean and Chinese governments.
The ministry staff welcomed Bon-Hwa with open arms, and it wasn’t long before she saw the truth of their love and accepted Jesus into her life.
Bon-Hwa had a deep hunger to know and obey God, and she was soon pleading with the ministry staff to baptize her.
But it wasn’t safe to baptize any believers in the border town where the safe house was, and Bon-Hwa had to wait nearly two years before her request to be baptized was fulfilled.
The Open Doors staff knew that it was important for Bon-Hwa to be baptized, but it would also take some planning.
They couldn’t baptize her in the border town, as she could easily be caught and repatriated back to North Korea, where she would face imprisonment and execution. But Bon-Hwa kept asking for a baptism ceremony—and she wouldn’t give up.
“She wanted to be baptized so badly that she couldn’t wait any longer,” said an Open Doors pastor.
The pastor and a staff member eventually decided to conduct Bon-Hwa’s baptism at another Open Doors safe house in a secret, remote location.
The three Christians traveled separately and on foot to the safe house to prevent detection. “It took many hours to reach the place,” noted the staff member.
When all of them had arrived at the safe house, the ceremony began.
The pastor opened with a prayer, and the three Christians recited the Apostles’ Creed together. Then the pastor asked Bon-Hwa a series of questions.
“Do you believe that Jesus is the Savior of your life?”
“Yes,” Bon-Hwa replied.
“Do you believe that only through Jesus’ blood, you can enter Heaven after death?”
“Do you accept that you are sinful and you can only be saved by Jesus’ name?”
The pastor then baptized Bon-Hwa “in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.”
It was an incredible moment for all three believers. Bon-Hwa wept with joy, and the ministry workers found themselves overwhelmed with emotion as well.
“I had to contain myself and focus on the steps of the ceremony,” the pastor admitted. “Or else, I would have cried loudly myself.”
“It was such a beautiful moment and such a privilege to baptize a North Korean believer in these circumstances,” he added. “It was a holy moment.”
Bon-Hwa had waited for two years to be baptized, and her wish was finally realized. Though there was no crowd of Christians present to celebrate with her, all of heaven rejoiced over her commitment to Christ!
Since her baptism, Bon-Hwa has demonstrated that commitment by digging deep into the Word. She knows Psalm 119, Romans 8, and many other chapters of the Bible by heart, and she is prepared for the possibility of imprisonment and death.
Pray for Bon-Hwa and other North Korean Christians to remain strong in their faith, and praise God for their example to us!
*Name changed to protect confidentiality.