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North Korean Underground Church to American Church: 'We Pray for You'

Contact: Pam Sparks, .W Publishing, 719-481-4408, [email protected]; www.wholelifeoffering.com

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo., Sept. 20, 2011 /Christian Newswire/ -- Several weekends a month the Rev. Eric Foley, co-founder of Seoul USA and sought-after expert on North Korean underground Christianity, speaks at conferences about persecuted Christians. The main question audiences ask: How can we pray for the North Korean underground church?

Foley's answer always surprises.

"We ask North Korean underground church members that question," says Foley. "And they answer, 'Pray for us? We pray for you!'"

Foley explains, "When we ask North Korean Christians why, they say, 'Because you American Christians put so much confidence in your wealth and freedom that you don't fully know what it's like to be able to trust only in God.'"

Foley and his wife, Hyun Sook, founded Seoul USA nearly ten years ago to support the work of the North Korean underground church. While the Foleys started the ministry believing that North Korean Christians needed help from American Christians, he has since become persuaded that American Christians need help from North Korean Christians at least as much in return.

"We need to repent of the idea that because we have more worldly goods and worldly freedom than North Korean Christians that we are somehow in a more advantageous position to do ministry than they are," says Foley. "It turns out that our modern western way of making disciples and being church is the historical oddity. The North Korean situation of empty-handed discipleship in the face of intense persecution is the norm. We can learn a lot from them."

Foley began planting churches in the United States and South Korea using what he calls "persecuted church principles for the free world." After frequent inquiries from intrigued onlookers, he compiled the discipleship lessons he learned from into a twelve-point strategy he says is designed to make it possible for committed lay Christians to plant a thriving church -- one without buildings, pastors, weekly offerings, and musical instruments, where members learn how to become "living Bibles" by memorizing Scripture rather than relying on printed literature.

The booklet detailing that method, "Church is For Amateurs," is now accompanied by an extensive reference work on discipleship, "The Whole Life Offering," which Foley says was inspired by the North Korean church as well. Both books are available for purchase at www.seoulusa.org/resources.