Christian discipleship organization Voice of the Martyrs Korea successfully provided over 23,000 Bibles to North Korean Christians in 2020, a figure they are looking to increase this year.
Voice of the Martyrs CEO Rev. Dr. Eric Foley told Mission Network News that now more than ever, Christian Koreans are asking for more Bibles, even more than any year since the organization was founded 20 years ago. The Bibles were first distributed through balloon launches, but since the South Korean government banned the activity in June, VOM has found other ways to help spread the word to those who want to receive it.
"God isn't tied to only one particular distribution method," Foley said. "And certainly, the demand for Bibles is never restricted by what governments do or don't do." Foley's Voice of The Martyrs now relies on an underground network of Christians in the northern region that is described as a "complex system" but is effective in sending in Bibles into North Korea.
Foley's strategy is two-pronged. He said that patience and a "multi-year approach" is needed to successfully move Bibles into North Korea through the underground network. Instead of looking at short term goals that span a year, the Voice Of The Martyrs, Foley said that the organization is "looking ahead to the next five to ten years."
The Voice Of The Martyrs isn't the only organization that has caught heat from the government for their balloon charges, as two other Christian groups are also facing charges. Foley is facing three, as earlier reports indicated that he was charged for a violation of the inter-Korean exchange law, which "regulates commerce between North and South Korea." He was also charged for the balloon launching that resulted in a "national threat," as well as the use of high-pressure gas.
Nonetheless, Foley remains optimistic about sending Bibles into North Korea through the balloon launch method. He said, "Balloon launching is still the most cost-effective way to get large numbers of Bibles into the southern portion of North Korea, which is where the greatest concentration of population is. And also, it is where the more affluent, higher-level people in the political environment are."
In 2018, Foley argued that the balloon launching activities carried out by the Voice of The Martyrs to send Bibles into North Korea is a legal activity that they announce to the police and not to the media and an activity that is carried out at night using cutting-edge technology to ensure safety.
He shared to NK News, "We use the version of the Bible published by the North Korean government, which the North Korean government insists can be read legally by all North Koreans under the DPRK constitution."
The efforts of sending Bibles into North Korea by Foley and the Voice of The Martyrs has had a major impact on North Korean Christians. It was reported that North Korean citizens who saw a Bible increased from about 0% to 7.6% by 2014. Foley says that the sharing of Bibles is a "contribution to the peace process" and is looking to increase the amount they send in this year by 30%.