From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
EFFORT LAUNCHED TO AID CHRISTIANS IN NORTH KOREA
04 May 1996 20:43:33
95362 EFFORT LAUNCHED TO AID CHRISTIANS IN NORTH KOREA
by Alexa Smith
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--A commitment to budget $450,000 for pastoral training and
development of Christian education materials in the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea (North Korea) was endorsed by the General Assembly
Council (GAC) Sept. 30 in what the Worldwide Minstries Division is calling
a "New Mission Breakthrough with the Korean Christian Federation (KCF)."
"I'm so happy this is happening in my moderatorial year. ... It's a
wonderful opportunity for new mission, for recycled mission," said
Moderator Marj Carpenter. "I welcome this opportunity, helping those people
[living] underground with the Gospel ... helping any way we can."
Korea Mission Program funds were set aside in Korean currency by the
former Program Agency of the United Presbyterian Church in the United
States of America and the former General Assembly Mission Board of the
Presbyterian Church in the United States when the Korean War broke out in
1950. The accounts now contain slightly more than $500,000. The funds have
been designated for "peace and reunification" and for "Asia mission,
pastoral needs and education."
"What is happening is North Korean Christians are now finding ways to
work in partnership with churches like ours and other churches," said the
Rev. Insik Kim, Worldwide Ministries Division coordinator of East Asia and
the Pacific, adding that the philosophy of juche -- or self-reliance --
hindered acceptance of outside support, including financial help, before
now. "Now they are willing to open themselves up," said Kim, stressing that
the hope is to funnel aid to churches through an agency in Pyongyang that
will have authority to initiate, fund and monitor projects.
The model is similar to that of the Amity Foundation in China.
The GAC action authorizes the Worldwide Ministries Division to budget
$450,000 from existing Korea Program funds to support this new initiative
and to apply future income received from assets in Korea to ministry
opportunities in North Korea.
In addition, the GAC asked all Presbyterians to work and pray for
peace and reunification of the Korean peninsula, for the reunion of divided
families, and for the faithful witness of Christians in both North and
The GAC also gave thanks to God for the faithful witness of Christians
in North and South Korea and for "this new opportunity for mission outreach
with the KCF."
According to the Rev. Cliff Kirkpatrick, director of the Worldwide
Ministries Division, the KCF wants to provide pastoral training to the
leaders of its 500 house churches, many of whom have no trained leaders or
Bible study resources.
Kim said Christian education materials are also needed, as well as
basic church equipment such as microphones, small organs or devices to play
Describing North Korea as a "critical mission frontier," Kirkpatrick
said the denomination will work together with Korean Christians "in every
way possible" to make this initiative happen.
"Only God knows when the 38th parallel will open," Kim told the
Presbyterian News Service, "but it will be a tremendous opportunity
whenever it opens.
"This is the first step," he said of the GAC endorsement, saying the
denomination will be ready to respond to the Holy Spirit's action. "That's
what makes it risky on the one hand or exciting on the other. It depends on
how you look at it."
Worldwide Ministries associate director for ecumenical partnership the
Rev. Syngman Rhee agrees, saying that North Korea is opening up to "wider
aspects" of ministry and it will present "new chalanges" as well. "They
are opening up to the West, to churches ... for help," said Rhee. "And
churches with long histories in North Korea are going to respond.
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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