Just Across the Tumen River 2


Now I say to you that you are Peter (which means ‘rock’), and upon this rock I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it. — Matthew 16:18


As Peter was lost in thoughts, he suddenly realized that the singing had stopped. Turning his gaze back from the river, he saw they were entirely surrounded by the Public Security Bureau (Secret Police). They shouted, and most of the crowd fled. Those who stayed were asked who was responsible for the gathering. Such assemblies were not allowed without prior approval. Because Peter was a foreigner it was assumed that he must have brought all these people to the riverbank, but no one would admit this, so they released him with a stern lecture. Many attendees had to sign a paper promising not to gather again without going through proper channels.

A few days later, in the evening, Peter again felt the river’s pull and went down to the riverbank again. As he walked, he heard movement in the bushes and realized someone was hiding there. Knowing that North Koreans crossing the river will not approach others until they feel safe, he sat down on the bank facing North Korea and waited patiently. From behind him came a whisper, “Are you the one who sang for many nights?”

The man had a North Korean accent and Peter knew that the man would run if he turned around. So he stayed facing the river and said, “Why do you ask?” The man came a little closer. “Teacher, why did you stop?” Peter turned around slowly and saw the North Korean believer standing behind him, tears running down his cheeks. “That music encouraged us so much. Though we could not sing with you, we could listen and praise God along with you,” he said.

He told Peter that the very first day of his singing, a few North Koreans had gathered on the other side of the river and listened. Over the next few days, the number of hidden listeners had multiplied despite the risk. Peter was stunned, and his heart was healed. He had simply gone for a walk to process his sadness and ended up praising God from a full heart. He was no singer, yet God had used him to lift up and encourage his own Chinese villagers and the underground Christians on the other side of the river.

There’s a lesson there that will never grow old. This is that praise invites the presence of God and brings peace no matter what the circumstances. So praise Him, saints! Don’t praise Him in despite your troubles, but learn from the persecuted and the North Korean believers.

Grow to a point where you can even thank Him for the trials and for the fire you pass through, and stand back and watch Him move. This is your door to freedom.*

*Jeff King, The Last Words of The Martyrs

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