North Korea (MNN) – Denuclearization and peace are at the forefront of discussions about North Korea. Yet, the peace hanging in the balance is already coming at a cost.
Fouling the Air for Peace
For years, activists, government agencies, and others have used large balloons to fly banned materials into North Korea. For 12 years now, Voice of the Martyrs has used balloon launches to send thousands of Bibles into the country.
However, just before the North Korea and US summit began, they abruptly stopped. Eric Foley with Voice of the Martyrs Korea, a sister branch of VOM USA, states, “What we’re facing now is a complete blockade for balloon launches and the justification for it that the South Korean government is giving to us is that is, ‘fouls the air for peace.’ And what they mean by that is the North Korean government doesn’t like balloon launches.”
Don’t Bother North Korea
As the world watches and North Korea concedes to some talks with other nations, people are beginning to press for peace. But for Christians that is translating to tighter reigns on spreading the Gospel through means like balloon launches.
“For many years in our work the government has said ‘not now, wait, don’t do anything to bother North Korea.’ And now, unfortunately, the international community is kind of supporting that rationale. We’ve faced restrictions in the past on balloon launching that were temporary and for a time, but it’s pretty clear that this time these restrictions are different. The government has issued a comprehensive ban on balloon launching.”
Foley continues, “This is a particularly dangerous time for Christians in South Korea and North Korea because the agenda that is being set is being set by [the] government in terms of ministry. And we know historically in missions that governments setting agendas for missions has not gone well for the church.”
The South Korean government suggests a meeting for religious exchange. North Korea and South Korea would choose participants carefully and watch them closely. Foley explains that rather than angering their northern neighbor, the government wants to control who receives the Gospel and how. But the Word of God is not bound by human constraints.
So Christians in South Korea are faced with a difficult choice. Do they let the government choose how they witness or don’t they? If they don’t, then consequences may follow.
Continuing the Work of the Gospel
Foley explains, “And what we’re being portrayed is as anti-North Korea, anti-peace. Why? Because we don’t allow the government to set the agenda for the kind of work that we do.
“Now the Bible says that we have to be obedient to the government and that’s true. But we don’t need to turn to the government to lay out our missions strategy for us. Our job is to do what the Lord calls us to do and accept the consequences. And that’s the situation that we’re in here now, is that we’re going to continue to do what the Lord calls us to do.
“We don’t do it violently. We don’t do it angrily. We don’t do it with confrontation. But we do it knowing that we may pay a price for that. So in that, we may join our North Korean brothers and sisters in paying a price for trying to freely carry out the work of God.”
Pray for Lasting Change
Since Voice of the Martyrs began Bible balloon launches into North Korea in 2006, the percentage of North Koreans to have ever seen a Bible has risen from 0.2 percent to 10 percent. God works in many ways, but balloon launches have played an important part in exposing people to the Gospel.
Please pray that God would continue this important work. Pray that the South Korean government would allow the spread of God’s Word to their northern neighbor unhindered. Pray that God would strengthen Voice of the Martyrs and South Korean believers to keep spreading His Word.
Also, pray that God would change the hearts of North Korean leaders to see Truth and allow their people to see it also. To see more ways to pray, click here.