Other images flash through Eun-Yeong’s mind. She sees her oldest daughter and herself at the grave of her first husband. Then follow memories of crossing the river into China, the kidnapping by human traffickers, a forced marriage to a Chinese alcoholic, the birth of three children, the drowning accident that killed her 12-year-old daughter, the sudden appearance of her now grownup North Korean daughter in China and finally her own arrest. She squeezes her eyes even tighter and tries to focus on beautiful memories. Like the moment she finally started to understand the Bible, and the conversations she had with her children about Jesus. She knows one day she will sit with them at one table

The other fluorescent tubes are switched on and wake up all the other prisoners. Without a moment of consideration, everybody gets out of bed. Not Eun-Yeong. She hesitates. This moment between waking up and getting out of bed is for her and the Lord. For in that short moment she is free and holds her children in her arms. Maybe she will never see them again in this life. But one thing for sure the guards cannot take from her -- faith in Jesus Christ. He will wipe away all the tears from her eyes.

Night has fallen and the exhausted, hungry prisoners hobble into the empty, cold barrack. Eun-Yeong longs for a shower. It’s been a year since she had a hot shower. She can’t think about that now. The prisoners are kneeling and with their heads bowed have to listen to one of the guards, who is reading the newspaper to them. “Today is December 25th,” he reads. December 25th! That’s Eun-Yeong’s favorite day of the year -- Christmas, the birth of her Savior. She wants to think about a favorite Christmas carol, but she has to pay attention. And she wants to sleep. Her body and mind are worn out. “One day Lord, please, grant me to celebrate Christmas in freedom with my family.”

Eun-Yeong is still a prisoner in the harsh labor camp. A church takes care of her children inside China. An estimated 40,000 to 60,000 Christians are imprisoned in the North Korean gulags. Will you pray for Eun-Yeong this Christmas and the millions of other Christians who live in freedom-restricted countries?

Jerry Dykstra is Media Relations Director for Open Doors USAbased in Santa Ana, Calif., the American arm of Open Doors International, a worldwide ministry which has supported and strengthened persecuted Christians for 57 years.

Publication date: December 14, 2012