South Korea (MNN) — In the latest efforts to stop Scripture from crossing borders into North Korea, South Korean authorities made Bible launches illegal on Friday. A law passed overnight includes heavy fines and bans any activities connected to cross-border balloon or sea bottle launches.
Voice of the Martyrs Korea sends Bibles to North Korea in balloons and sea bottles throughout the year. “For 15 years, we’ve had a very good cooperative relationship at all levels of the South Korean government,” Pastor Eric Foley, CEO of VOM Korea, says.
“We’re saddened that government has taken the step to move away from this 15-year policy of collaboration… and, instead, [sees] freedom of religion as suddenly a threat to life and property.”
Making Christ known in North Korea
Local authorities blocked a launch several days ago following high-level political statements from North and South Korean leaders. Foley insists VOM Korea’s work has no political agenda.
“We do the balloon launches – not as missionaries seeking to evangelize North Korea, but as the partners of North Korean Christians who daily risk their lives. They have asked us to do the things that they can’t do to complete the work that the Lord has given to them,” Foley explains.
Continuing its partnership with secret believers in North Korea now carries a higher risk for VOM Korea. However, “when you partner with underground Christians, these kinds of situations are inevitable,” Foley says.
“We can’t ever believe that standing with underground Christians won’t cost us something.”
As explained here, following Christ is a capital offense in North Korea. Christians can’t announce their faith publicly, let alone share it with others. Even owning a Bible can put a secret believer at risk. Although North Korean Christians cannot share the Gospel with their own people, God can make His name known through other means.
“When we started [the launches] zero-percent of North Koreans had ever seen a Bible with their own eyes. Now, eight-percent of them have, as of 2016; so, it’s probably now past eight-percent,” Foley says.
(Photo courtesy of VOM USA)
No one knows what tomorrow holds, but VOM Korea team members trust God with their uncertain future. “We always hold out hope that the Lord can, just as He hardens hearts, He can soften hearts as well,” Foley says.
“Every year brings different challenges, but what we’ve found is that, in every case, God makes a way. When we go as far as He permits us to go, then He’ll make a way.”
Learn more about VOM Korea’s work here. Most importantly, pray. “Whether it’s North Korea and balloon launching or Iran or Saudi Arabia, whatever the country is where persecution or difficulties are being faced, let’s pray – not for persecuted Christians but with persecuted Christians as one body,” Foley requests.
Let us “speak with one voice that we’re going to be obedient to the call of the Lord Jesus, and we’re going to be submitted joyfully and willingly to any punishment that our governments meet against us, in response to that necessary faithfulness,” he adds.
Header image is a representative stock photo courtesy of Pixabay.