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Freed by Bill Clinton, Saved by Jesus

Oct 19 2010
'The World Is Bigger Now' recounts Christian journalist Euna Lee's imprisonment in a North Korean jail.

Three Christians in the past year have drawn attention to North Korea's repressive regime by crossing the river that divides the Communist nation from China. But unlike activists Robert Park and Aijalon Gomes, who wanted to get arrested, Euna Lee was just trying to do her job: reporting for Current TV on the plight of North Korean defectors. On March 17, 2009, she and fellow journalist Laura Ling were dragged by soldiers across the frozen Tumen River, then separated, interrogated, and imprisoned for five months.

In month four, Lee, a South Korean Christian, began walking and praying seven hours every day. And the walls of Jericho came tumbling down: After mounting pressure from human-rights groups and the intervention of Bill Clinton, the women were sent home on August 4. Days later, Lee was worshiping alongside husband Michael and daughter Hana at The Rock Church in San Diego.

In The World Is Bigger Now (Broadway), Lee recounts her efforts to retain hope and trust in God amid a 12-year prison sentence and threats of never seeing her family again.

You start the book by describing being dragged across the Tumen River by North Korean soldiers. You write, "As a Christian I always believed God would protect me. But where was he now? Why wasn't he helping us?" As you look back on your hardships in prison, where was God?

When we were violently dragged by the North Korean soldiers from the Chinese side, I screamed for help, and I hoped that God would send somebody to rescue me from the situation. When I realized that no one was coming, I was desperate, and I felt so defeated.
I prayed every day crying out for help, but at the same time I was trying to figure things out by myself—what I could do, what I could not do. But whenever I told God, "Okay, it's in your hands, I trust you," all the burdens lifted from my shoulders. And there was a period of time that I got letters from my husband and friends and brothers and sisters from church, and all the letters told me that my husband and my daughter were okay. It felt like God telling me, "Don't worry about them. They're in my hands."

Even though there were times I was impatient with God's answer and was mad at him—I yelled at him and [called him] a liar—he sustained me. I journaled almost every day, and I made a wish list of things I wanted to do when I got home. One day recently, my husband and I realized we had done a lot of the activities on the list without planning. We were talking at our dining table, and we said, "God is so good. He is good."

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Freed by Bill Clinton, Saved by Jesus