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KOREA: Accused as Criminals for Bible Distribution

KOREA: Accused as Criminals for Bible Distribution

The Bible remains essential to the church in North Korea today, and The Voice of the Martyrs Korea is determined to continue getting God’s Word into this closed nation through the use of various innovative methods. However, these efforts have recently become a point of contention with leaders of the South Korean government who are seeking to appease demands from the dictatorial government of Kim Jong Un in North Korea.

The co-founders of VOM Korea are presently facing possible criminal charges, as well as a review of the ministry’s status as a registered NGO. In a recently sent email, Rev Dr Eric Foley and his wife Dr Foley wrote, “We stand accused in our own country as criminals, and we do so alongside our North Korean Christian brothers and sisters.” The couple released a fascinating account about the “Bible Christians” of those earlier days and how they connect to the current situation in both North and South Korea.

When missionaries first arrived in Korea in the late 19th century, they discovered that the Gospel message had already preceded them. Koreans who had been assisting with Bible translation in China consequently came to faith in Christ. By smuggling portions of the New Testament into their homeland, they were also able to lead others to Christ. The resulting believers came to be known as “Bible Christians”.

Source: The Voice of the Martyrs Korea

  • Please keep VOM Korea and staff covered in prayer as they navigate how to wisely deal with these present challenges while endeavouring to honour God.
  • Pray that the people of North Korea who have received the distributed Bibles will be touched by the Word, resulting in their eternal salvation.
  • Intercede for the governmental leaders of both North and South Korea that they would not only cease opposing the Gospel but also willingly embrace our Heavenly Father’s love to the point of becoming convicted of their need to accept His Son Jesus as their own personal Saviour.

Post your prayer in the comments below.

VOMK Under Investigation

VOMK Under Investigation

Voice of the Martyrs Korea (VOMK) has now become a target for an investigation, after relations between the North and the South deteriorated in early June over balloons launched by North Korean defector groups.

Every year, in partnership with other VOM offices, including Australia, Voice of the Martyrs Korea has sent Bibles into North Korea by balloon and by sea.

Recently, after political threats from North Korea and presidential desire to keep the peace, South Korean authorities banned any activities connected with cross-border balloon or sea bottle launches.

“A South Korean governor called for a formal police investigation into all four of the groups that do launching. Three of them do political launching, and Voice of the Martyrs Korea is the only one that does Bible launching,” said Pastor Foley, CEO of VOMK.

“The government is pretending that we haven’t had this great mutual cooperative relationship for 15 years. Suddenly, balloon launching has become dangerous and balloon launchers [are] criminals, and we are considered crazy,” he added.

In addition to the launch investigation, Pastor Foley said that police have indicated they will investigate the organisation to see if it has violated its NGO permit.

“From the beginning, even when we filed our NGO application, we made clear that our most important purpose as an organisation is to get Bibles into nations where Christianity is restricted. We do this in partnership with the underground Christians in those nations,” said Pastor Foley.

He added, “Since 2005, we have sent an average of 40,000 Bibles per year into North Korea, in printed and electronic form, using balloons and many other methods. The Bible we use is the one based on the translation published by the North Korean government. We also broadcast the Bible into North Korea by radio. We have never sent a single political flyer into North Korea, only Bibles and Bible study materials. This is what our underground Christian partners in North Korea request.”

Pastor Foley said that Voice of the Martyrs Korea is eager to cooperate fully with the police investigation. He said he hopes the investigation can restore what he says is the “spirit of partnership we have experienced with government authorities at all levels” since the organisation began in 2003.

Pastor Foley said, “VOMK makes the launches not in an effort to evangelise North Koreans but to help Christians already in the country,” adding “we can’t ever believe that standing with underground Christians won’t cost us something.”

Two other balloon launching NGOs have already been raided (offices and homes) by the police. Pastor Foley says, “Our office has been under surveillance 24 hours a day. As I look out the window now, I can see the police who are stationed to watch this place 24/7.”

“My concern has not been getting arrested. We’ve had 36 martyrs from Voice of the Martyrs Korea since we began, and my wife and I never felt like we could exempt ourselves from that.”

“Prayer is essential to their ongoing efforts,” he added.

Please continue to keep Pastor Foley and his team in your prayers and pray for the work they do to bring God’s light into one of the darkest places in the world – North Korea.

Discipleship, the Key for Ministering to North Koreans

Discipleship, the Key for Ministering to North Koreans

The strategies for ministering to North Koreans have had to change in recent times with China and Russia cracking down not only on Christians but foreign missionaries.

In days past, North Korean ministry generally meant a professional minister travelling to North Korea, China, Russia or other places that North Koreans were found, to bring supplies and expert help. Now, interacting with foreigners is dangerous, especially those travelling on business visas.

Instead of supporting foreign missionaries, Voice of the Martyrs works with locals who are already ministering to North Koreans in their area. This raises less suspicion as foreigners will automatically draw attention regardless of their visa status, especially when they interact with North Korean workers, sex-trafficked women, and defectors.

Local Christians are experts at remaining off the radar. They understand how to navigate the country’s systems much better than any foreigner, and as they travel from one place to another, they’re simply another citizen. They not only know where North Koreans are in their area but also how to speak with them without raising suspicion.

Unlike foreign missionaries, local Christians are not licenced ministers with degrees in theology. For the most part, these are just average people who are doing ministry on top of their job. This means that they often need more than just supplies – they need discipleship.

These workers have more than just technical questions; often, they have questions about Christianity, how to put Scripture into practice, and how to respond to questions they’re asked.

Voice of the Martyrs is now working to supply discipleship resources to these local Christians, and all the resources can be found online at a hidden address. The impact has already been seen and felt by these workers and the North Koreans to whom they are ministering.

The more entwined with persecution theology these workers become, the more the faith of the North Koreans follows suit. This becomes important as many of them will return to North Korea – they are mainly workers, smugglers and citizens visiting family.

Although it is dangerous, many of these North Koreans want to return in order to share the Gospel they have learned with others in North Korea. This is dangerous work as the first question any North Korean is asked upon re-entering North Korea is if they have been in a church or seen a Bible.

If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to: vom.com.au/donate

Voice of the Martyrs Australia is an endorsed deductible gift recipient (DGR) by the Australian government. This means you can claim tax deductions for all donations over $2 to Voice of the Martyrs Australia on your tax return.

North Korean Ministry Continues Despite COVID-19 Threats

North Korean Ministry Continues Despite COVID-19 Threats

COVID-19 placed a very real strain on ministry to North Koreans after the country announced it would close its borders, even to defectors being sent back from China.

Experts believe North Korea took this course of action because they knew they lacked the resources to deal with an outbreak. This has meant the number of citizens leaving the country decreased dramatically.

To many ministries reaching out to North Koreans, this has made their work increasingly difficult. North Korean ministry is vulnerable to current affairs, and how strict officials are with North Koreans (especially in China and Russia) depends on the news of the day. Purchasing sex-trafficked brides from North Korea, for example, is technically illegal, but Chinese officials will occasionally overlook this offence when the government’s focus is elsewhere.

Specialised foreign missionaries can’t get into China to share with North Koreans, especially in the northern areas but even if they could, many North Koreans have fled.

Voice of the Martyrs, however, has spent years training local Christians how to minister to North Koreans in the area in which they live. Their goal throughout the pandemic was to support existing discipleship bases and home churches in China and wherever North Koreans are found. There is even more work to be done in Russia where many North Koreans are currently working. VOM is focused on strengthening the already existing network of frontline workers there.

Thankfully frontline workers have continued their ministry faithfully despite the forced isolation. One of the ministers in China said:

“The whole of China was in crisis throughout the coronavirus pandemic. Most roads in our area were blocked and public transport was halted temporarily. The government didn’t permit private meetings and gatherings so we were forced to worship in our own homes.“

In China, North Koreans could not even afford to buy masks to protect themselves from the virus. Frontline workers specifically asked VOM for a large number of masks so that they could provide aid as well as evangelise.

In the midst of public panic, VOM ministry partners are even expanding their ministries in response.

While most countries have held China at a distance during this time, Christians are continuing to minister even in cities with the highest confirmed cases of the virus. The goal to deliver 800 ministry packs, 1500 MP3 players, 1000 SD cards, and discipleship materials to North Koreans is even ahead of schedule for the year.

According to one frontline worker, the wall North Korea has put up is permeable. People may be kept out, but smuggled goods are even more welcome. To survive, North Koreans desperately need supplies. Because of this, smuggling becomes essential when the border is closed, meaning it is easier to smuggle Scripture in different forms across the border.

One of the frontline partner ministries working with several North Korean women continues to share the Gospel with others. They meet and distribute MP3 players with Faith Comes by Hearing’s Gospel recorded in the North Korean dialect. According to testimonies, these MP3 players are truly a light during an otherwise dark time.

One recipient said: “If asked what the happiest moment of my life was, I would say it is the time I am able to listen to the Word of God through MP3. During this time, I don’t worry about anything; I don’t even feel tired.”

North Korea itself boasts a faith-filled and efficient underground church and is home to several Christians discipled by VOM who, for the purpose of the Gospel, chose to return.

Recently one of the VOM offices received a testimony that read: “In the dark reality and hopeless life of North Korea, I am thankful to have discovered the truth.”

If you would like to financially support the work of Voice of the Martyrs, please go to: vom.com.au/donate

Voice of the Martyrs Australia is an endorsed deductible gift recipient (DGR) by the Australian government. This means you can claim tax deductions for all donations over $2 to Voice of the Martyrs Australia on your tax return.

From our CEO: June 2020

From our CEO: June 2020

Dear Friends,

“We don’t tremble before communism. They should be in panic because of us.”

These are the profound words from our founder Richard Wurmbrand, which ring true when we understand the amount of disdain the Chinese Communist Party has for Christians. Their determination to wipe out Christianity for their failing ideology is staggering.

Even while the world is grappling with a pandemic which started in China, the relentless pursuit of Christians continues. The pursuit of control both in China and North Korea is evident in the number of population controls which are in place, including mass surveillance systems to track movement and activity, monitor purchases and contacts, and manage social credits.

Some of these may sound familiar, even here in Australia. Let’s not fool ourselves into thinking that communism is not present here. Some members of our major political parties subscribe to this ideology and many communist values are already ingrained in our education systems. The influence of Chinese communist thinking has already penetrated our society.

Communism is alive and well and wrestling control over unsuspecting communities around the globe. We cannot allow ourselves to be complacent.

How do Christians deal with this oppressive ideology of communism in countries like China and North Korea?

In this newsletter edition we share stories of triumph over adversity. I am always encouraged by how, during hardship, persecuted Christians spend more time reading and relying on God’s Word, than on their current circumstances, however severe or dire. They draw daily strength from the Scriptures. They meet in their homes regularly and have their praise and worship times together as a family. They encourage each other and draw strength from those of us who are praying for them. Persecuted believers understand the power of prayer and actively participate.

Whilst speaking to one of our main contacts in China recently, I asked how they were dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic and the relentless pursuit of the Chinese Communist Party to eradicate all Christian activity. He replied, “We need your prayers so through these troubled times we can reach more for Christ, but we are also praying for you in the West so you can prepare for what is to come.”

Blessings,
Tony Benjamin
CEO