Last October, the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association held one of our largest Crusades in years in the bustling city of Busan, South Korea. Crowds filled the city’s Olympic-sized stadium and worshiped exuberantly. Thousands came forward at the invitation to repent of their sins and give their lives to Jesus Christ.
Just a few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to proclaim the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ in Pyongyang, North Korea, at the Bongsu Church, one of only two officially recognized Protestant churches in the capital city. Since my visit in 2000, the church had built a new sanctuary, funded primarily by Christians in South Korea.
Korean Christians have great hearts for evangelism and missions and are fervent in their prayers. In Busan, hundreds gathered before dawn every day to ask God to pour out His Spirit on our Crusade meetings. So I was not surprised to see how the Lord is making a way for the Body of Christ to overcome all of the political, economic and religious barriers that have long divided Korea.
I was born during the Korean War. All my life, North Korea and South Korea have been enemies, their peninsula split by the most heavily armed border in the world. The countries speak the same language, yet they seldom talk to each other. Still there are millions of people on both sides who yearn for the day that the differences will be reconciled, peace will prevail and Korea will be reunited.
Could it happen in our lifetime? Maybe. Recently there have been encouraging signs in international peace talks as North Korea has promised to dismantle its nuclear weapons program. In the past year, North Korea has given unprecedented access to relief organizations such as Samaritan’s Purse for humanitarian work that demonstrates the compassion of Christ to multitudes who have never heard the Gospel.
There is one way I know for North and South to come to peace with each other–and that is by Koreans on both sides coming to faith in God through our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
The Bible promises transformation: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting men’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:17-19, NIV).
Back in 1907, when North and South were still one country, God unleashed a great revival in Pyongyang. By 1934, when my mother went to a Presbyterian mission school in Pyongyang, the message of salvation had spread across Korea.
The Gospel is the “power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16), and I give God thanks for the opportunities He has given us to proclaim it to the Korean people. Its power brings peace between God and men, and lays the only true foundation for peace among men.