Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the end of the Soviet Union, Christianity has often been given credit for helping to bring about both. While not exactly a hotbed of religious tolerance, the Soviet Union still allowed the Orthodox Church to operate in Russia, while the Roman Catholic Church was left intact elsewhere, especially in Poland.
North Korea is a different animal altogether though. By all accounts, religion is largely a state-run sham there. That isn’t really conducive to trying to change people’s hearts via the good word.
But that doesn’t keep people from trying.
On the nights when the winds are light and the skies are dark, hundreds of helium-filled balloons are sent up and away from multiple points in South Korea, destined a few miles away and into North Korea. Only these are no ordinary balloons — they are considered “Bible Balloons,” adorned with the Words of God printed in Korean or flash drives featuring the entire texts of the Testament.
It is one of the few creative — and inherently dangerous — ways bibles are smuggled into the oppressive dictatorship in the hopes that impoverished North Koreans will know that they aren’t forgotten. Other activists, such as American pastor Eric Foley, have opted for a much larger hydrogen-fueled 40-foot balloon brimming with bibles and testimonials. These are then dropped into rural areas with the help of GPS technology, in the hopes that even just one will be picked up.
Smuggling in Bibles via balloons seems like something from a movie but, hey, whatever works.
According to the article, the North Korean regime is not only aware of these efforts, but on the lookout to thwart them.
There are missionaries and other people of faith who are taking a more dangerous approach:
“The bibles are printed in another country, and then secretly taken and distributed in North Korea, usually a few at a time,” Vernon Brewer, founder and president of Christian humanitarian organization World Help, told Fox News. “The people who smuggle bibles have to be extremely careful, changing their route and taking other precautions to avoid getting caught.”
According to Brewer, once those bibles are inside, they are passed along through trusted believers, and he and his organization send a couple of different sizes — but the most popular versions are the small New Testaments.
“This is because they fit in the palm of your hand and can easily be exchanged during a handshake or left in strategic locations for people to find,” he continued.
There is a very bitter disconnect here, as religious liberty is actually written into the country’s constitution, even though it’s an utter sham.
Still, as the old saying goes, “Where there’s a will, there’s a way.”
St. John Paul II had to study for the priesthood in secrecy because the Nazis had shut down the seminary near him.
This story is also a sobering reminder of how dangerous something that we almost take for granted still is in so many parts of the world.