By Sim Lee
“But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” Matthew 16:25 NLT
“I do this because I am a Christian” – Reverend Han Choong Yoel
In light of the recent media coverage this week of large numbers of Chinese Muslims being held at interment camps for “political unity” treatment in China’s Xinjiang Province, near its border with Mongolia, I wish to re-visit and remember the death of a Chinese Christian Pastor who was murdered close to China’s border with North Korea for “political” reasons in 2016:
For any Chinese citizen to give aid and comfort to a refugees crossing into China from the North Korean border is to court certain death from the devout North Korean spies who covertly work both sides of that border for the North Korea government.*
But to be able and brave enough to do this for over 1500 North Korean refugees for almost 13 years as a well known Christian pastor, until he was assassinated, is an almost unheard of. Such a one was Pastor Han:
Pastor Han Choong Yeol lived in the Chinese border town of Changbai and was the government-approved leader of the Three-self Church there. He was very popular with his congregation and was tolerated as much as can be expected by local members of the Peoples Party.
Unknown to almost all, Han lead a double life of secretly being a political and of being a Christian secretly helping NK refugees in dire straits with aid, comfort and the Gospel.
His sharing of the Gospel and his example had a profound effect upon those refugees who embraced Christianity through his teachings and kindness. Many of those he helped would actually return to North Korea to covertly share the Gospel with those they loved, until they would be silenced in death for being “Terrorists and enemies of the State” (NK).
When Han’s deacon vanished in 2014, Han knew his own time was coming as well and on the morning of April 30, 2016, he conducted what was to be his last worship service, after which Han left for the border to further assist more North Korean refugees.
When he did not return at the appointed time, his people found his mangled body that evening near the border, riddled with knife and axe wounds. Pastor Han Choong Yoel died a brutal death in the service of Christ and devout North Korean operatives on both sides of the border rejoiced.
This “Terrorist and enemy of the State” is worthy to be remembered by us in death for his service and sacrifice for Christ, as are the many others before him who loved Christ more than life.
* “Christian pastor murdered after helping North Korean refugees” by Harry Farley, Christian Today UK – 05/05/2016
Things are now changing much faster for all religions in China, especially for Christians, since President Xi Jinping has come to power. Not only is he ordering a much harsher reining in of all underground churches, mosques and shrines, but now is ordering that the Ten Commandments are to be removed in all churches to be replaced with ten quotes from his most compelling speeches, so as to reinforce a more traditional Chinese culture in religious worship.**
**”Xi Jinping Quotes Replace Ten Commandments In Chinese Churches” TalkingChristianityNG, September 2019