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Freedom

(Source: Mission News Network)

Eric Foley, the director of VOM Korea, shared the following thoughts for U.S. Christians to consider.

1. “It’s important for us to remember that Christ did not die for freedom of religion. Christ died for freedom in Christ. That’s something that no government can grant, and no government can take away.”

2. A Christian from North Korea, where Christians are severely persecuted, told Eric, “You [American and South Korean Christians] have so much money and so much freedom that you end up putting your faith in your money and your freedom. North Korean Christians have only Christ, and we’ve learned that He is sufficient.”

3. “When [freedom of religion] is present, we give thanks to the Lord, and we use it for the Lord’s purposes. But when the Lord decides to withdraw it, for whatever reason, we use even the lack of freedom for the Lord’s purpose. North Korea’s body of Christ is careful, but they’re not waiting for the current regime to blow over before resuming their lives of faith.”

Talk about Eric’s observations with your class or family. Do you agree with them? Can you find Bible verses or passages to support your opinion?

[Photo source: VOM Australia. Many children in North Korea are small and thin because they do not get enough to eat.]


Thanksgiving

North Korea

As you celebrate Thanksgiving this year, remember the Christians in the following story from a Thanksgiving in North Korea a few years ago.

Elizabeth, a North Korean Christian, joined with a few other believers for a worship service. She noticed one child in the group whose shoe was torn open. His foot was frozen. His family did not have enough money to buy new shoes.

The house had no heat. Sometimes the family skipped meals for many days in a row because they had no money for food. “The food problem is worse this year,” a North Korean Christian said. “And it was really bad last year.” Bad weather has destroyed food crops in North Korea. Also, government leaders do a poor job of getting food to those who need it. Many people are poor, hungry, and sick.

Read the rest of this entry »


Seven Facts About North Korea

A balloon launch

Recently, Todd Nettleton of VOM Radio interviewed Dr. Eric Foley from VOM Korea.  Dr. Foley talked about launching Bibles inside balloons into North Korea, where Christianity is illegal. Read below some interesting facts about North Korea from the interview.

*To the North Korean government, it’s worse to be a Christian than to be a thief or a murderer.

*2018 was the most difficult year for balloon launches. In the fall of the year, VOM Radio listeners were asked to pray for the launches. By the end of the year, 30,000 new Bibles had been placed in North Korea by balloons. (See a video about balloon launches from a previous year here.)

*“North Korea, the most closed country in the world, is the only country in the world where Bibles fall from the sky,” said Dr. Foley.

*To the North Korean government, sending Bibles into their country is worse than sending missiles.

*When we started balloon launching, zero percent of people inside North Korea had ever seen a Bible with their own eyes,” said Dr. Foley. “Now more than eight percent of North Korean people have seen a Bible.”

*Some ways that Christians share the gospel with North Korea are secret. It’s better to “pray about it a lot and talk about it a little.”

*North Koreans are expected to worship their former leader, Kim Il Sung, who is now dead. “[North Korea] is the only neocracy in the world — the only country ruled by a dead man,” said Dr. Foley. (Kim Jong Un, the grandson of Kim Il Sung, is the current living leader of North Korea.)

Statues of Kim Il Sung and his son

Can you use the seven facts above to guide you in prayer for North Korea?

To learn about North Korean Christians, download Bold Believers in North Korea from the Downloads section.


North Korea: Crossing the Border Game

Background
Some North Koreans try to escape their country by crossing a frozen river in the winter. Guards watch the river to try to stop anyone from escaping.

Guards in some countries also try to keep people from sneaking into their country, especially if they are carrying Bibles. The governments of some countries do not want their citizens to learn about Jesus. Christians in one place found a way to take Bibles into those countries in the winter. Guards near the border looked for footprints in the snow. They sent attack dogs in the direction of the footprints. So the Christians walked backwards in the snow at night to take Bibles into the countries that did not allow Bibles. When border guards looked down at the footprints from their towers in the morning, they sent their search dogs in the wrong direction!

How to Play
Divide into two teams with an equal number of players. Give each team a bag of three or four books. Make a starting line and a finish line several yards apart. Line up the teams behind the starting line. When a leader says, “Go,” the first player on each team walks/runs backwards to the finish line, carrying the bag of books. The player drops the books behind him beyond the finish line. The second player walks/runs backwards to the books, picks them up without turning around, then runs back to the starting line. Play continues until all the players on one team have finished the task. That team wins.


How Do North Koreans Pray?

A secret meeting in North Korea

In North Korea, it is against the law to choose to follow Jesus or to own a Bible. A listener on VOMRadio.net asked the following questions.

  • In a country like North Korea, how do Christians pray?
  • How do they gather together?
  • What is a worship service like in North Korea?

Todd Nettleton, host of VOM Radio, asked Rev. Eric Foley to answer the listener’s questions. Rev. Foley is the leader of VOM Korea.

Rev. Foley: A lot of ideas we have about North Koreans hiding under a blanket to read the Bible or sneaking out of their homes at night aren’t exactly accurate. And the reason why is that everyone in North Korea is required to spy on homes that are near their own.

Things like hiding under a blanket or sneaking out of your home would make the neighbors suspicious. So when things like that happen it is usually on the border of North Korea.

North Koreans who are in the interior of North Korea who have been Christians for generations actually worship very differently. They have developed ways of worship that they can do even when people who are not Christians are watching.

One of the ways is that underground [secret] believers pray with their eyes open. They look at the person they are with as if they are having a conversation with that person. And instead of referencing God, for example, they use a phrase like “Dear Leader.” [“Dear Leader” is a title used for the former leader of their country, who is now dead. In this case, Christians are using the title to talk secretly about God.]

So instead of bowing their heads and closing their eyes, they might look at the person sitting next to them and say, “I am so concerned about Sister Kim, who is sick. But I am thankful that our Dear Leader will show special care for her as she needs love and attention.” That would be how underground Christians pray.

The way that they have worship services is on a family level. People in the same family worship together. But people from different families typically do not gather together for worship in North Korea.

(Source: VOMRadio.net. Edited and paraphrased for length and clarity.)

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