Follow Franklin Graham’s Footsteps through the DPRK

By   •   August 1, 2008   •   Topics: , ,

Kim Yong Dae also expressed gratitude for the donation of a mobile dental clinic.

Rev. Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and Samaritan’s Purse, arrived Thursday in Pyongyang.

On Friday, Rev. Graham stopped by a hospital where Samaritan’s Purse installed the intensive-care unit and also met with the staff who operate the dental vans donated by BGEA. The first dental clinic was constructed in the United States in 1995 and shipped to the DPRK (The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) by way of China.

Coordinating the design and delivery of the clinic were Dr. Dick Nieusma, a dentist and former Presbyterian missionary to Korea, and Dr. Stephen Linton, of Columbia University, who has acted as a consultant to Billy Graham on his visits to the area.

Arriving at the Pyongyang airport Thursday, Rev. Graham recalled his family’s long history in the DPRK, going back to 1934 when his mother Ruth Bell Graham attended a Presbyterian Mission school in Pyongyang. His father, Billy Graham, visited the DPRK in 1992 and 1994, meeting with President Kim Il Sung.

“In many ways, I feel like I’m coming home,” Rev. Graham said to dignitaries who greeted him. “This nation was so close to my mother’s heart, and she often told us about growing up in Pyongyang.”

On Thursday afternoon, Rev. Graham attended a children’s performance at the Children’s Palace. He praised the children for a spectacular performance and told them he has four children and six grandchildren. “The God who created the heavens and the earth loves children very much,” he said. “God loves all the children of Korea.”

During a welcoming dinner Thursday night, Graham was introduced by Rev. Kang Yong Sop, chairman of the central committee of the Korean Christian Federation. Also welcoming him Thursday were Ri Jong Ro, director of international affairs for the Korean Christian Federation; and Jong Tae Yang, vice director of foreign ministry.

Rev Graham said to the audience: “I do not come to you today as a politician or diplomat. I come to you instead as a minister of the Gospel and an ambassador for the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords.”

He shared a story from his father’s 1992 visit: “President Kim pointed outside and said that just as the long Korean winter was about to give way to the warmth of spring, so he hoped that the relations between our two countries would soon move away from the coldness of winter and into the warmth of spring.

“In the years following the late President Kim’s statement to my father, many people in my own country doubted if it would ever happen. But because of recent events we can truly say that a new springtime has arrived in the relationship between my country and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

“My prayer is that this relationship will grow even stronger, and I pledge to do everything I can to make this happen,” Rev. Graham added.

Earlier this week, an official newspaper in Pyongyang called for a peace treaty between the United States and the DPRK to bring a formal ending to the Korean War. Since 1953, the peace has been enforced by an armistice agreement, but the nations remain technically at war.

“Peace is important to God,” Rev. Graham said. He explained to officials and others at the dinner how it is possible for people to have peace with God, peace in their hearts, and peace with one another.

The key to that peace, he said, is expressed in the Bible in John 3:16: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

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