Rev. Hyeon Soo Lim was given a life sentence by the North Korean government in early 2015, despite the fact that he had visited the country more than 100 times and delivered tens of millions of dollars of aid.
In the end, however, the senior pastor of Light Korean Presbyterian Church in Toronto was released last summer.
Lim will visit New Westminster Christian Reformed Church next weekend (April 29) to describe his two-and-a-half years of imprisonment in North Korea and the faith that sustained him there.
Rosemary Barton interviewed him for CBC News August 27, 2017:
Barton: How did they treat you?
Lim: [As interpreted] They tried very hard to treat me well.
Lim: [As interpreted] Labour is labour. It was difficult. [English] Hard labour, it’s hard.
Barton: Can you describe what a day was like for you, a typical day?
Lim: During the winter, I was digging in the frozen mountains to make an orchard. I dug 50 holes. The first time is very hard for me, because I never did labour. After two months, my weight was reduced by 23 kilograms. I cannot breathe and I cannot raised my hand, so I asked to go to the hospital. They gave permission for two months, so I restored in the hospital. . . .
Barton: Do you think that God wanted you to go through this?
Lim: Yeah, I had never experienced North Koreans, their life. [As interpreted] Experience it myself and putting myself in North Korea to actually experiencing their living, I think that’s part of God’s will.
Barton: How do you feel about North Korea now? Are you angry?
Lim: No, never.
Barton: That’s surprising, I would be angry.
Lim: [As interpreted] I thanked North Korea. I forgive them, and I love them. And I believe this was a discipline from God as I learned so much through this experience.
Barton: A discipline from God?
Lim: Yeah. (Laughs.)
Barton: How did it change you?
Lim: [As interpreted] I served the church. However, through this experience, I realized how I’m the sinner in front of God, and through his experience I will glorify God and serve God more sincerely.
Go here for the full interview.
Tyndale Seminary in Toronto will present Lim with an honorary doctorate at this year’s Convocation May 12. This is how they describe Lim and his work:
Rev. Lim originally immigrated to Canada from South Korea. He became senior pastor of Light Korean Presbyterian Church (LKPC) in 1986 where he ministered until his official retirement in 2017. When he began his ministry at LKPC, the church consisted of five families, it has since grown significantly to approximately 3,000 individuals today.
He has tenaciously led his church to take the Gospel to various nations, often heading into difficult regions where the Christian presence was lacking or even absent. In the three decades of his leadership at LKPC, he launched several ministries, including Global Kingdom Young Adults Missions (GKYM) Festival, MELT Central Asia Missions Movement and Global Assistance Partners (GAP). He also began several missions movements that extend to regions such as Northern India, Tanzania, Haiti and Southeast Asia.
Over a period of nearly 20 years, Rev. Lim travelled to North Korea more than a hundred times on humanitarian missions. He led his church to bring aid to the elderly and orphans in the northeastern region of the country by establishing an orphanage, a nursery and a nursing home, among other endeavours.
After many visits, he was suddenly detained in January 2015 and sentenced to a life of hard labour. The regime charged him with an attempt to overthrow the North Korean government on the grounds of religious activities, a false claim he was coerced into confessing during his imprisonment. He notes that his dependency on God during his isolation and loneliness helped him through the ordeal.
His church and the wider global Christian community prayed and advocated for his release. In August 2017, those prayers were answered. He was released on humanitarian grounds surrounding health concerns and brought back to Canada with the aid of a Canadian delegation.
Rev. Lim continues to encourage Christians to pray for the Korean peninsula and harbours no resentment towards the people of North Korea. He maintains his heart for the people and for furthering the mission of sharing the gospel message with all nations.
With this honorary degree, Tyndale recognizes Rev. Lim for the many ways he has impacted the Korean diaspora, the missions movement globally and the greater Christian community with his service and unwavering faith.
Go here for more information about Hyeon Soo Lim’s visit.