A North Korean Christian tortured for sharing her faith while imprisoned in one of the country's notorious labor camps revealed how the Lord spoke to her during a particularly brutal beating, giving her the strength to survive.
Hea Woo, a Christian who survived her sentence and later escaped into South Korea, told ChristianToday that after being arrested, she was moved between 10 different prisons where she experienced "living hell."
Despite the horrific conditions, Woo, whose husband died during imprisonment, said "God was there" the entire time.
"I started to pray for the lost souls there who are dying without knowing Jesus Christ. I prayed to the Lord, saying: 'I want to be a salt and light in this place for these poor souls,'" she recalled, adding she was tortured several times for sharing her faith.
"I wasn't scared of the torture but I was scared that I might lose consciousness and in my unconsciousness I might deny Jesus' name," she said. "That was what I was scared of."
After enduring torture for four days, Woo "collapsed" and felt she couldn't stand anymore. Desperate, she cried out to God and was reminded of the verse from Jeremiah 33.3: "Call to me I will answer you and I will show you unimaginable things."
"So I was able to bear all the sufferings at the time," she said. "I was taken back to my cell and heard the really loud, audible voice of the Lord. It said: 'My beloved daughter, you walked on water today.' It was a really loud strong audible voice but no one else heard."
At that moment, Woo realized the Lord was there throughout her torture.
"I had to really thank Him that He was there with me," she said. "After that day I didn't get tortured. The Lord protected me."
Describing life in the prison camps, Woo said she shared a cell designed for 50 with 200 other inmates.
"There wasn't even space to stand properly," she said. "In one corner of the cell there was a toilet but to prevent the prisoners from escaping there were no windows in the toilet — only a hole in the floor. So it was really disgusting and the smell was so horrible. The people suffered headaches because of the smell and often we would get sick. Also there were lots of rats in the toilets."
When prisoners died, guards would break their bodies into two pieces, place them in a cart, and take them outside for cremation, Woo revealed. Because the crematorium was so small and there were so many dead bodies, inmates were sometimes forced to cut the dead bodies into small pieces with an axe, she said.