First North Korea Mission Conference in Korea

The Northern Asia-Pacific Division (NSD), the North Korea Mission Department of the Korean Union Conference (KUC), Sahmyook University, and the Korean American Seventh-day Adventist church of North America (KASDA) co-hosted the 6th North Korea Mission Conference at Sahmyook University from March 24-26.

The event, themed “North Korea Mission, Unrelinquishable DESIRE, Unstoppable MISSION,” was significant because it was the sixth time since the first conference held in 2015 at Garden Grove Church in the United States that it was held in Korea for the first time. It was also the first face-to-face rally after the COVID-19 pandemic.

More than 800 people, including North Korean missionary organizations such as North Korean Pioneer Missionaries (NKPMM), Priscilla and Aquila Missionaries, and Bukbukbuk, as well as pastor Kim DongJun, Director of the North Korean Mission Committee in North America, members, seminarians, and others, joined to pray for the unification of the gospel on the Korean Peninsula. Overseas Koreans were also in attendance, expressing interest in the current status and possibilities of North Korean missions.

“The conference is an invaluable opportunity for many of us to share the burden of missions together, and it will be a time of zeal for the spread of the gospel,” said Pastor Ted Wilson, President of the General Conference, in a video blessing. “I hope this special mission conference will help us focus on how we can fulfill God’s will to reach the precious people of North Korea,” he said.

In his welcoming remarks, NSD’s President Kim YoHan, “The dawn before dawn is the darkest, but we can look forward to a new day, so we must prepare for the new day with faith even in the dark. Our branch is also actively preparing for the mission to North Korea with the conviction that ‘God will open the door when I am ready,’ instead of the passive attitude of spreading the gospel when the door opens one day.” He hoped that this conference would be a place to restore the passion for the mission to North Korea.

“When I am ready, God opens the door”

In the opening sermon of Gary Krause, Director of Adventist Mission of General Conference quoted Luke 5:1-6, the principle of salvation by comparing North Korea to a lake in Galilee where no fish were caught. In his sermon, titled “Casting Out the Nets in Deep Water,” he presented statistics on the ratio of churches to a population in the world’s major metropolitan areas and exhorted, “We need to get in the boat of missions and cast the net of salvation, believing that ‘one day we will catch fish.”

“Jesus wasn’t just talking to his disciples that day about catching fish; he was talking about catching people for the kingdom of heaven,” Krause said. Today he is asking us to push out into deep missionary waters for North Korea. “We must prepare for this mission through prayer, humility, and creativity,” looking forward to the day when the nets are torn apart by so many fish.”

Erton Kohler, the Executive Secretary of the General Conference, delivered a sermon on Acts 19:8, highlighting it as a key verse. In his message titled “Mission is a Miracle,” he emphasized that the Bible clearly indicates our mission to reach every nation, tribe, tongue, and people worldwide, including difficult areas like North Korea. He posed the question, “How can we spread the gospel to people with different languages and cultures?” and affirmed that the mission belongs to the Lord, who will perform miracles to open closed doors and reach seemingly impossible hearts and inaccessible areas. Kohler stressed that we are merely instruments for the Master of the Church and the mission of the Church, and God will work through us to perform remarkable miracles.

Timothy Saxton, the Director of Adventist World Radio (AWR) Asia, shared about AWR and North Korea in his lecture and asked the audience if they had heard of AWR. He spoke about AWR’s more than 50-year history of preaching the message of the three angels in hard-to-reach areas and highlighted its potential as the spearhead of North Korean missions. Saxton urged his listeners to move forward in faith, saying that the promise had already been given to them.

Pastor Oh BeomSeok, the Director of NSD North Korea mission, gave a report on the mission’s progress. During his report, he introduced key initiatives that have been carried out in collaboration with the KUC and the Korean American Church Association of North America. These initiatives include a prayer movement, training programs for North Korean missionaries, mission work among North Korean defectors, and the rebuilding of the North Korean church. Pastor Oh emphasized that North Korea is the most persecuted country for Christianity and called for active participation and interest from members in the mission to North Korea. At a prayer meeting, the congregation joined hands and prayed for various causes, including the rebuilding of the 98 Seventh-day Adventist churches in North Korea, successful settlement of 34,000 North Korean refugees in South Korean society with love and faith, leaders of North and South Korea to collaborate to create an atmosphere of peace that will open doors for missionary work in North Korea, and for the leaders of the General Conference, branches, associations, and unions involved in missionary work in North Korea to be given vision and guidance to guide this work well.