Chinese Christians training missionaries to share the gospel in North Korea – ranked the worst country in the world for Christian persecution – say they have "no fears" about the brutal treatment they may face.
Speaking to China Aid on condition of anonymity, the two pastors said they were well aware of the dangers, but they were determined to share Christ with the people of North Korea.
Their translator paraphrased: "He [one of the pastors] shared something about the cruelty of how people will be mistreated in North Korea if they are found to be Christians, or if they ever say anything about Jesus. If they are North Koreans, their family will probably disappear, and the men will probably be beaten or have their hands chopped off. If they are women, you can imagine; maybe they will be raped by many people at the same time.
"So, he's saying that, since you're speaking of fear, their team is training [missionaries] who are fearless and also don't have family. Like, they're single, they're not married yet, but they're ready to lay down their lives for Christ at any time if they ever go to [North] Korea and meet any bad situations."
The pastors spoke of a Korean-Chinese church leader who had spent 17 years evangelising North Koreans, but was killed.
His body was found stabbed 17 times in the Tumen River in northeast China. "He was probably assassinated by the North Koreans," the pastors said.
"So that's why we're now building this fearless team of people who are willing to die if they have to. Because it's not about ourselves, or about them, but all that matters is God's kingdom," one added.
"Because we love them, and God loves them, and God has mercy upon them, so we are willing to dedicate ourselves to them. We hope that everybody that can contribute their efforts to this ministry. We can be united together and accomplish the purpose together."
The second pastor said: "We don't want to be known by people. We just want to make our own efforts for Christ. We're specially called by God to be in this ministry, which nobody else wants to do."
A damning report released by Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW) in September said Christians in North Korea face rape, torture, enslavement and being killed for their faith. Freedom of religion or belief "is largely non-existent" under dictator Kim Jong Un's leadership, CSW said.
"Religious beliefs are seen as a threat to the loyalty demanded by the Supreme Leader, so anyone holding these beliefs is severely persecuted," the report said, noting: "Christians suffer significantly because of the anti-revolutionary and imperialist labels attached to them by the country's leadership."
Among the documented incidents against Christians are "being hung on a cross over a fire, crushed under a steamroller, herded off bridges and trampled underfoot".