North Korea is all over the news these days, but did you know that North Korea has a vibrant underground church?
We’ve been given an extraordinary opportunity to head up Church Planting, for a North Korea focused, multi-organizational network. This network exists to plant indigenous, multiplying, vibrant, holistic, self-sustaining, and Christ-centered Churches, capable of reaching all the provinces of North Korea and beyond.
Because this is such a sensitive area, we thoroughly researched the underground North Korean church for several years. We interviewed missionaries working directly with those churches, and a host of other ministries doing amazing projects, none of which we can discuss openly. Even though it is the most closed country on the face of the earth, we found there are many ways to support what God is doing in the hermit kingdom.
During our research, we interviewed North Korean defectors. It was heartbreaking to hear their stories. They described their lives as unbearable in the North, but they are haunted by the feeling that they betrayed their family and friends. Those loved ones may have suffered simply because they left. When they arrive in the South, they never thought that they might not “fit in.” In the North, they never had to compete for a job, or pay for essentials, like housing and food. In the South, they find themselves under trained and under educated in a highly competitive society. They feel everything is a competition in the south. The pressure is unbearable. The North was hard, but at least they understood how to survive. Many wonder if they made the right decision.
These defectors don’t fit in with the churches in South Korea. The struggles of middle class South Korean society are completely foreign to their own struggles. What’s more, they cannot understand the South Korean accent, as the North Korean language diverged, with more than a 40% difference.
Taking several years of research, Beyond gathered a diverse group of missionaries all of which had interacted with existing Disciple and Church planting movements in other countries. This team created a discipleship and church multiplication process, specifically tailored for the needs of the North Korean underground church, as well as North Korean defectors in the South. Late 2017, Beyond started training a group of non-western missionaries with access to the underground North Korean church, as well as a group of North Korean Defectors. This is an exciting project!
Many of those we’ve trained state that they have never discussed mission strategy, before. They knew about multiplying disciples, but never knew how this might be possible. They knew the first century church multiplied greatly, but never knew the same was possible in our lifetime. Some of these missionaries are transforming their entire ministries, around the methods in which we are training them.
We also trained North Korean defectors, and for the first time, they felt empowered, being able to read the scripture and listen to the Holy Spirit themselves. In fact, they immediately started using what they had learned, with other defectors they knew. They are now starting discipleship groups and churches, specifically for defectors; instead of trying to conform to existing South Korean churches. You could see it in their faces, that this was truly transformational!
This is an exciting time!
Beyond has standing invitations to train several other mission networks from other countries, all of whom have a unique opportunity to access North Korea. Even though Beyond doesn’t have access ourselves, we are effectively partnering, coaching and training those who do.
Recently, Beyond was given a starting matching grant of $10,000, with an option for even more. The grant is for training and coaching mission movements from other countries with access to North Korea. Our efforts have the unique opportunity to guide emerging mission movements, to start indigenous and self-sustaining, discipleship and church planting movements in North Korea. Because we train ‘trainers of trainers,’ we know there will be a multiplicative effect. The people we train will also train their peers, working in other unreached, unengaged people groups as well.
Please pray for our efforts, and for an indigenous, multiplying, disciple making church in North Korea!