One of my favorite aspects of fiction writing is creating the characters. I think one the most intriguing characters I've encountered in my musings is the Old Woman from The Beloved Daughter. This ancient, blue-eyed Korean Christian has been in solitary confinement for over twenty years but has a passion for God that would put nearly all of us to shame. She has an incredible back story that makes her jailers fear her (and is actually based off of true events), and she breathes life and hope and healing when our protagonist is at her lowest.
And even though I know she's fictional, I sometimes wonder if she's based off of someone real. You see, for a long time I had it in my mind that there was an old North Korean woman alone in solitary confinement (in the real world, not just in my book). She had been there for years or even decades. I also had it in my mind that one thing she longed for more than any other was a Christian to pray with, to intercede for her country with her.
I thought I was just using my imagination. I certainly needed it when I wrote my novel. Why shouldn't I use it when I prayed, as well? So I'd picture myself entering this woman's cell and praying with her for the people of North Korea. For months I did this, assuming I had just discovered a nifty little prayer trick that helped me stay focus and impassioned while I prayed.
Then one day, I saw her in my mind. My “imaginary” prayer partner. That woman I thought I had just conjured up to help me stay focused on my prayers.
She was alone in her cell. She had died. And I was the only Christian in the entire world who mourned for her. No one else even knew who she was.
I'm not about to sit here and convince you to believe that this woman was real and that her death coincided with my apparent revelation. Could it be that my tears for her were just tears for every Christian who’s died alone in jail, with no one in the outside world aware of their situation? It's a definite possibility.
What I do know is that when I try to sit and pray for North Korea now, my prayer partner isn't there. It comforts me to think that maybe one day I'll see an old Korean woman in heaven, and we'll look at each other and wonder if we ever met on earth.
Maybe she'll even have blue eyes.
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