Franklin Graham’s first visit to the DPRK in 2000 was one of the most memorable of his life.
“Ever since then I have been looking forward to the opportunity to return here,” he said. Eight years later, he did just that.
From July 31 through Aug. 3, Graham, the president of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and Samaritan’s Purse, visited medical and dental project sites, and met with government and church leaders in the DPRK.
“For me to be able to come back and to work here where my mother went to school is personal to me,” Graham said when he arrived in Pyongyang. “My mother was born in China. Her father was a surgeon in a missionary hospital and spent 25 years in China. My mother came here to high school in Pyongyang. And I remember as a young boy my mother sharing her experiences living here in this city.”
The visit is generating extensive media coverage, including an interview this Sunday, Aug. 17, at 7:30 a.m. with CNN news anchor TJ Holmes. Graham also was accompanied in the DPRK by Greta Van Susteren of FOX News. Taking a quick break from interviews, Graham shared with us his personal reflections from the visit.
What were the key highlights of this trip for you?
Having a chance to preach in the Bongsu Church. Having a chance to visit the hospital in Sariwan and seeing their desperate need. We are going to be putting generators in the hospital later this year.
What is the most difficult thing you witnessed?
Millions of people there know nothing about God or what Jesus Christ has done for us on Calvary’s cross. The greatest need for this nation is Christ. There is a hopelessness and emptiness that can only be filled by God Himself.
How would you describe the situation of Christians there?
They live in an extremely restrictive society. Everything they say or do is monitored and recorded. They suffer for their faith.
What is your prayer for the DPRK?
My hope and prayer for the is that the government will free its people to worship God and that they will allow churches to be built and people to witness.
Would you say the trip a success?
Very much a success.
Have you been able to share with your father that you were in the DPRK?
What is your hope for the future between the BGEA, Samaritan’s Purse, and the people of the DPRK?
My father had a special relationship with Kim Il Sung in the early ’90s and we want to continue having a positive relationship with the people because we believe it will have a positive effect on the relationship of the government and the church.