In the early morning light, a small group of North Korean believers meets on the riverbank, lugging their fishing gear with them.
Quietly, they load into a small boat and push off from land. It’s not until they’re far into the middle of the river that they dare to dig through their gear and pull out their Bibles.
This is the only place where they feel safe enough to worship together and study God’s Word. And even then, they are constantly on alert.
If they are caught reading the Bible, they could immediately be sentenced to 15 years in a labor camp – or worse. They’ve heard the stories of what happens to people who are heard speaking the name of Jesus. Many of them have family members and friends who are living in the camps now … or have been buried there.
That’s why when another boat approaches, they panic and scramble to hide their Bibles. “It’s the police!” someone shouts.
Only after the man in the boat greets them in the name of Jesus and tells them he has a gift for them do they start to calm down. He asks to see their Bibles, and the believers who own one hand them to him.
There are only a few Bibles among the church members – not nearly enough for everyone. And each copy is practically falling apart. After years of being carefully studied and then hidden over and over again, the bindings have come loose and pages are beginning to slip out. Many of the Bibles have water damage from these early morning meetings on the boat. But they are still these Christians’ prized possessions … they risk their lives for these Bibles.