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The secret church in the prison toilet


Hea Woo lived in North Korea – the worst place on earth to be a Christian. Yet she managed to find a way to share her faith and to worship with others, even in a prison camp. Incredibly, she founded a church in the prison camp toilet.

North Korea is the front runner in the failing race to destroy God’s church.
It’s the most dangerous place to follow Jesus. Christianity is outlawed and Bibles are illegal - and up to 400,000 Christians have to meet in complete secrecy. It’s number one on the Open Doors World Watch List – the list ranking the most dangerous places to be a Christian. And it’s held that position for the last twenty years.

Many North Koreans find life so dark and brutal that they try to make the dangerous escape to China.

Hea Woo was one of them. She managed to make it across the border, and in China she became a Christian. She was taken in by a courageous bunch of Christians, and it was there that Hea Woo held a Bible for the first time, and learnt Scriptures by heart, she also sang hymns, like Amazing Grace.

But then Hea Woo was discovered by secret police. She was sent back to North Korea for ‘re-education’.

Which meant being sent to a prison camp.

The sign above the prison camp entrance read ‘Do not try to escape’.
The smell of death was everywhere. The ashes of executed or dead prisoners were simply scattered on a pathway. Every day when Hea Woo walked on this path she thought ‘one day that will be me’.

But there in that dark hellish place Hea Woo prayed a big bold prayer – ‘Jesus make me be salt and light here...’

Being light in the darkness - being brave often starts with small steps – she washed the rags of fellow prisoners, shared her scraps of corn. But she longed to do more... She prayed again to God – the Holy Spirit showed her a handful of women to share Jesus with. And so, a secret church was born in one of the worst places on earth.

They had to meet in utmost secrecy. Which meant meeting in the prison camp toilets. One of the few places which was so horrible that even the guards wouldn’t go. It stank – yet was the safest place to meet.

This was their church. There, they would grab a handful of minutes to worship in whispers.

Hea Woo would recite Psalm 23 by heart – she lived in this Psalm during her time in prison. Then they would whisper Amazing Grace together and pray – sharing words of hope and encouragement.

Then church would be over... Whenever Hea Woo’s ‘toilet’ church saw each other around the camp they would steal a look into each-others’ eyes and whisper ‘Amen/Hallelujah’.

Hea Woo said: “In prison I saw the worst of humanity but the best of Jesus.”

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