I cannot tell you his name

North KoreaYears ago, I read an account from a man interviewed anonymously who escaped North Korea with the help of Christians and he spoke about the guilt he felt for surviving. This poured out in response and while the starvation may have eased in recent years, in the light of Kim Jong-Un reviving the recruitment of “pleasure squads” to serve him and the continued persecution of Christians there, the news of Garissa and so on, it seemed time to repost on this Passover/Easter weekend. I don’t claim to be a poet, but this is my small nod to National Poetry Month.

Can one man make a difference?

I cannot tell you his name, only that he went into North Korea in winter

He cried at the bitter cold conditions and gave them clothing

I cannot tell you his name when they began the interrogation

but the name of his savior is Jesus.

Can one man make a difference?

His crime against the People’s Republic of North Korea

Was to spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The desperate and starving saw a ray of hope

The sick and the dying saw the face of God

He told them the names of the great I AM:

Jehovah-jireh (the Lord will provide)

Jehovah-rapha (the Lord who heals)

Jehovah-ra-ah (the Lord my shepherd)

He cannot tell you the name of the man arrested for stealing

beaten until he begged for death

Released. And then arrested again

Rationed to morning beatings with thick bats

Rationed until his diarrhea became uncontrollable

Rationed to eating dirty rags used to clean toilets, until he died.

Can one man make a difference?

I cannot tell you his name

when they arrested him again.

Only that he had hope, he had the Word

He had been to the mountain of spices

54 more days knowing kicks and blows of judo experts

54 more days knowing the living corpses around him

54 more days knowing the young woman sentenced

to 3 years for 1 Bible.

I cannot tell you the name of the man

beaten and twisted and starved in the bitter cold

until he could not stand

I can tell you he did not renounce his God.

Do not throw the word torture around like a beach ball

Do not use the word torture when you mean interrogation

When you mean inconvenient

When you mean insensitive

Can one man make a difference?

He will tell you Jesus did and the Christians who paid his debt

But he cannot tell you their names

He will tell you they bought his freedom

He will tell you he would have died to save their money

I cannot tell you his name

Only of his apology for using that money to return alive

and his gratitude to be alive to share the love of Christ

as an enemy of the state of North Korea.