Remembering Martyrs: Pastor Han Chung-Ryeol

29 April 2024

Pastor Han Chung-Ryeol of Changbai, China, faced a chilling reality: his life was in danger. Both Chinese police and South Korean intelligence officers had alerted him that he was a prime target on a North Korean ‘hit list’. Despite taking precautions, tragedy struck when Han, against his usual judgement, left alone after receiving a phone call at his church. That evening, his lifeless body was discovered in a remote area along the North Korean border.

Han and his wife had moved to Changbai in 1993 to lead a small church primarily composed of ethnic Koreans. Unexpectedly, their ministry expanded to include aiding North Koreans. With relaxed border controls, many crossed into China seeking food, medical aid, and a better life. Han and his wife opened their hearts and their church to assist, leading many North Koreans to find solace and faith in Christ.

Despite the dangers, Han remained steadfast in his belief that North Koreans themselves were the key to spreading the gospel in their homeland. He diligently taught new believers, empowering them to share their faith with their families and communities back in North Korea.

Han’s compassion and dedication earned him a reputation among North Koreans as a trusted ally, even as other churches withdrew for fear of government reprisal. Despite security measures, Han’s abrupt departure one day led to his tragic demise near the North Korean border.

Yet, Han’s legacy lives on through the countless lives he touched. Many North Koreans inspired by his kindness and faith now share the message of God’s love within their restricted homeland, illuminating even the darkest corners with the light of the gospel.

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