South Korea (MNN) — What began as an activity restriction in South Korea is turning into an assault on religious freedom. In early June, police stopped Voice of the Martyrs Korea from sending Bibles across the border to North Korea. Today, the ministry and its co-founder, Eric Foley, face criminal investigations.
“Balloon launching has been difficult every year since we began in 2005. [However], for the first time there [is] a large scale effort to declare balloon launching illegal,” Foley explains.
“This has been a controversial effort on the part of the government and it’s unclear, at this point, how things will go.”
See our full coverage of the situation here. Foley says the government’s motive and methods remain suspicious. “Launching has become a deeply political subject,” he explains.
“North Korea made a very public offensive against balloon launching, and that was adopted by various South Korean authorities. [This] was the impetus to count balloon launching as illegal – not through new laws, but through the application of other laws.”
On the heels of false accusations levied at VOM Korea, police began investigating its NGO status earlier this week. While nerve-wracking, the search brought good news. “We have a long history of financial transparency so we welcomed that investigation and we supplied all of the documentation they (investigators) requested,” Foley says.
“They told us they’ve done quite a large amount of investigating prior to coming in, [and] they had not seen anything that would justify revoking our NGO status.”
Although it’s a positive start, the issue is far from resolved. There’s “no final determination, but we’re thankful for the progress that we’ve seen,” Foley says.
“The criminal investigation is still pending. Interestingly, they haven’t contacted us about it. Rather, I hear about them the same way that you do, which is through the media.”
As they face an uncertain future, ask the Lord to sustain Foley and the VOM Korea team. Pray justice will prevail as investigations continue. “Pray that we will serve the Lord Jesus’s purposes in this hour. We also pray constantly for the opportunity to get Bibles into North Korea,” Foley says.
Pray for Christian ministries operating throughout South Korea. Pray ministry leaders will have wisdom and discernment.
“The issue is not just about balloon launching; it’s about the legal right to do private ministry work outside of government mediation.”
Header image courtesy of Eric Foley/VOM Korea.