AMERICAN evangelist ‘Dr’ Eric Foley of Voice of the Martyrs Korea is asking for international thoughts and prayers after he was arrested last week for launching balloons containing Bibles into North Korea.
The Christian Post reports that last week South Korean police asked prosecutors charge Foley on three counts. One is related to the violation of an inter-Korean exchange law that regulates commerce between North and South Korea.
Said Foley, who has launched the Bible-bearing balloons:
Anything you might be trying to sell from South Korea to North Korea would need to be pre-approved by the government.
The second charge relates to national security. Foley explained:
These are laws designed for natural disaster management, but now they’re being related to balloon launching with a charge that our activity created a national threat to Korea.
The third charge is is related to the use of high-pressure gas.
According to World Magazine, the godly gasbag and his team trek to the countryside by the border dividing North and South Korea.
They release helium-filled balloons carrying physical copies of the New Testament as well as digital and audio Bibles loaded onto SD memory cards. The balloons disappear into the night sky, popping at a high altitude as the Word of God drifts into otherwise unreachable areas in southern North Korea.
The Bible launches are Foley’s way of keeping a promise he made to underground North Korean Christians in 2003: At the time, he met with several believers in northeastern China and asked how he could partner with them. They responded that they needed more Bibles, both physical copies sent by balloons as well as Scripture broadcast over radio. Foley returned to South Korea and figured out a way to fulfill both requests.
In June, South Korean police began cracking down on balloon launches following threats from North Korea. The announcement came after Kim Yo Jong – sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – said balloon senders were “human scum” and threatened to scrap a no-hostility military pact and shut down the North-South liaison office.
This summer, the Ministry of Unification began investigating 89 groups that address North Korean human rights issues or provide aid to defectors. Three groups, VOM Korea included, have received most of the authorities’ attention.
In July, the Ministry of Unification revoked the NGO status of the other two groups — Fighters for a Free North Korea and Kuen Saem — claiming they are:
Seriously hindering the unification policy of the government.
We are the only ones that do Bibles. The other two launchers do flyers that are primarily focused on news events, and too often can be a political commentary on the situation in North Korea because North Korean defectors run both those organizations.
While two of the groups mentioned above face additional charges related to embezzlement and mismanagement of donations Foley’s fools for Jesus escaped being charged with anything related to donations or fraud.
We’re making a testimony that Christian organizations are different than political organizations. We act differently. We show respect for authority; we follow a higher standard in our current accounting practices.
Foley explained that police recommending the charges “guarantees” that he will be charged, adding:
It’s just a question of when. Could be tomorrow, could be next week, could be next month; we don’t know.
Our case asks, ‘[Should] launching Bible balloons, which has been legal up until this point in time, be considered illegal not just going forward, but related to past launches?
For 15 years, we’ve had a good relationship with the authorities. We’ve had police, military, even the intelligence services present at all of our launches. This year in a couple of launches, I asked the police, ‘is this illegal?’ And the police responded, ‘well, no, you just can’t do it here in this location.’
VOM Korea has so far sent 600,000 Bibles into North Korea by balloon and other methods. World Magazine notes that the Database Center for North Korean Human Rights found that in 2000, virtually no North Koreans had seen a Bible. However, just 16 years later, the number had risen to 8 percent.
As he awaits charges, Foley has asked Christians to pray that despite the crackdown, the Gospel will continue to reach those in the hermit kingdom, which is ranked as the worst persecutor of Christians in the world on Open Doors USA’s World Watch List.
The prayer that God will bring glory to His name is already being met; people see that there’s something different about Christians. The other prayer is that God would use each of the Bibles that we have for His purpose.
God is finding ways to get Bibles into North Korea. We’re amazed at the avenues He’s opening. Please pray that continues. Pray that God is glorified.