A Chinese pastor who served North Korean refugees and encouraged them to return to their country to minister to others was martyred in Changbai, China, on April 30.
According to The Voice of the Martyrs, Pastor Han Chung-Reol was 49-years-old, married and had a son and a daughter. He pastored a government-sanctioned Three Self-Church in Changbai.
Han was ethnically Korean but Chinese by birth and citizenship.
Pastor Han left his church building at 2 p.m. Six hours later his mangled body was found on the side of the Changbai mountain.
“There were multiple knife wounds on his stomach from repeated stabbings, and his head had been chopped by an axe,” Rev. Eric Foley from VOM wrote in a blog. His belongings, including his phone, were confiscated.
Foley believes Han was killed by North Koreans for his activity, not only helping refugees from the North, but encouraging them to go back and share the love of God with others.
“The North Koreans who killed Pastor Han returned to North Korea, as everyone who encountered Pastor Han always did,” Foley said. “They reported their story about their encounter with him. I am sure their superiors were eager to receive this report, in every detail.”
Foley called Han a wise man who was “devoted to helping North Koreans enter the Kingdom of God, not the Kingdom of South Korea.”
“Pastor Han was not a broker, not a human rights activist, not a guest on radio programs, not a speaker in pulpits,” Foley wrote. “He was a pastor, and all he was doing was pastoring anyone who came to him. And then he would send them home.”
Foley said that because of this, the Chinese government allowed him to continue his ministry in helping refugees from the north, even though North Korean officials frequently complained about him to the government.
Han gained the trust of the North Korean refugees because they could see he was motivated by love, Foley said.
“You can share clothing. You can share the Gospel. You can give them lots of money and rice cookers. And you can throw big parties for them,” he said. “But unless North Koreans can see your heart, unless the gospel is embodied in your life and not only your words or your business cards, they will never cross over the scary, shaky rope bridge over which we each of us must cross in order to move from the ideologies that enslave us, to enter the Kingdom of God.”