North Korean Christian risks it all to send tithe to her global Church family

A tithe offering from a secret believer in North Korea.(Photo: Open Doors International)

After receiving winter support from Open Doors, an elderly woman, Sa-Myung*, who leads a secret underground church in North Korea, sent back an envelope containing a tithe as an expression of gratitude to supporters.

"When North Korean underground Christians receive financial support from the overseas, such as from the Christian charity Open Doors, it is usually their only means for survival. Without it, they might die of hunger, illness or cold weather," says an Open Doors spokesperson in the region.

"Separating the tithe and offering it to God really means risking a tenth of their lives. Yet, Sa-Myung was just happy to risk it all and give it to God."

Mounting economic problems due to the international sanctions, pandemic lockdowns and closed borders with China and Russia affecting North Korea's trade with its neighbours have exacerbated the existing food crisis.

The risk of serious food shortages has led to fears that a situation like the 1990s' famine could develop in the country.

In these dire circumstances, Open Doors secret workers are keeping 60,000 North Korean Christians alive with vital food and other forms of aid through secret networks in China.

They are also providing Bibles, shelter and discipleship training for North Korean refugees at safe houses in China.

If discovered in China, North Korean Christians are sent back. In their own country they and their families are deported to labour camps as political criminals or killed on the spot.

Gathering with other Christians is almost impossible in North Korea and must only be attempted in utmost secrecy.

Defying the dangers of being discovered and making a contact to send a tithe back, Sa-Myung embodied the bravery and generosity of the underground Christian minority in a country where they need to be invisible to stay alive.

*Name changed for security reasons

Open Doors UK & Ireland is part of Open Doors International, a global NGO network which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians for over 60 years and works in over 60 countries. Open Doors provides practical support to persecuted Christians such as food, medicines, trauma care, legal assistance, safe houses and schools, as well as spiritual support through Christian literature, training and resources.