Hyun Jung clutched her smuggled Bible to her chest as she waited for the phone to ring. It had taken a long time to work out the details, but she hoped this first church service would go well. It wasn't a traditional service. That was outlawed in North Korea. They had already developed some code words for the service, in case their phones were tapped. They knew anything even sounding like a Bible reference could mean trouble.
Hyun Jung grabbed the phone before it finished ringing.
"How are you?" Sun Hi asked.
"What are you doing tonight?"
The first use of their code. It meant simply "Are you ready?" Such simple words, and yet spoken aloud they could raise suspicion
"Nothing much." Let's do it, Hyun Jung though. She listened for the first tones of the code and pushed the buttons on the phone to repeat it back. 1-0-6-0-0-1-0-0-9, she confirmed. She translated the code as she opened her Bible. One: Old testament; zero-six: sixth book; zero-zero-one: first chapter; zero-zero-nine: ninth verse. Joshua 1:9
The line was silent as both read the verse.
"Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous! Do not tremble or be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go."
It was a very appropriate first verse to read together.
Hyun Jung chuckled and spoke to Sun Hi. "I think thatís one of my favorites. Mu Chong had to be so bold to follow after Kim Jong-il. Kim Jong-il was so in tune with what Kim Il-sung wanted. The names all had to be in code. Any names that could be connected to each other in the Bible were cause for concern. The easiest names to use were the names of those in power in the North Korean government or military. As long as you were saying good things about the government, they'd leave you alone; unless they had reason to suspect something more sinister.
"Well, I should probably go. I think my mom is wondering what Iím doing," Sun Hi explained.
Hyun Jung agreed. "Yeah, okay." They had agreed to keep this first meeting short, simply to see if their codes worked well enough to suppress immediate suspicion. "But before you go, I've got one more slogan for you."
Hyun Jung typed the keys, and Sun Hi confirmed back. 1-1-9-0-1-8-0-0-3 Old testament, 19th book, 18th chapter, third verse. Psalm 18:3.
The LORD is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer,
My God, my rock, in whom I take refuge;
My shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.
The silence on the other end of the line said everything. "Yes," Sun Hi said.
Hyun Jung hung up the phone and sighed. It was refreshing to receive encouragement from the Word, even in tiny snippets over the phone. She pulled back the tapestry in her room and slid her Bible in the hole in the wall. "Until next time," she whispered.
Information about religion in North Korea can be found here: www.catholicexplorer.com/explore4325/nationworld/report-shows-religion-still-outlawed-in-north-kore.shtml
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