In the midst of the overall decline in the membership and attendance of the Korean church, one NGO is urging Korean church leaders to look for answers in the words of the persecuted and the early Korean church.
How does sharing the stories of martyrs renew people’s faith?
As church attendance and membership continue to decline in Korea, one Korean NGO, The Voice of the Martyrs Korea, believes God has placed the antidote in the words of the faithful church around the world and across time—especially the voice of early Korean Christians.
“Our goal is to revive the Korean church by ensuring that the voice of the martyrs never falls silent but is instead carried forward in our own voices and lived out in our own lives,” VOMK President, the Rev. Dr. Hyun Sook Foley says.
She adds, “By ‘martyr’, we mean the faithful witness to God across all geography and history who ‘loved not their life even unto death.’”
Voice of the Martyrs Korea is perhaps best known for its ministry partnership with underground North Korean Christians, including launching Bibles into North Korea. But it is an organization who not only ministers to the persecuted church in North Korea and around the world, but also shares the “voice” of these Christians—as well as the voice of Christians across history—with the Korean public.
“By ‘voice,’” Doctor Foley explains, “we mean the teachings, sermons, and testimonies of these faithful witnesses.”
Every morning, Voice of the Martyrs hosts a morning prayer service (called a Covenant Renewal Service) under an overpass in Jeongneung where early Korean Christian leader Kim Kyo Shin once cried out daily on behalf of Korea. In the Covenant Renewal Service, VOM President the Rev. Dr. Hyun Sook Foley and VOM CEO the Rev. Dr. Eric Foley, preach the messages of early Korean Christians like Kim Kyo Shin, An Changho, Cho Man Shik, and Kim Ik Du.
“Voice of the Martyrs wants to help the church pick up where they left off,” says Doctor Foley. “We seek out the words of these Christians and find ways to keep their words alive, through preaching, publishing, and broadcasting via AM, Shortwave, satellite, and Internet.”
In addition to these Christians, Voice of the Martyrs also shares the voice of the persecuted church around the world. Instead of focusing on the violence done against Christians, VOMK focuses on the voice that the violence attempted to silenced. Not only does VOMK host persecuted Christians as guest speakers in Korea, but the ministry also translates and shares their sermons, writings, and testimonies with the Korean church—and the church around the world.
“Keeping the voice of the martyrs alive isn’t just a duty or responsibility,” says Dr. Hyun Sook Foley. “It is God’s plan for continually renewing his church, including here in Korea.” That is why Voice of the Martyrs Korea is inviting all Christians to visit their office, website, Covenant Renewal Service, and online statement of purpose. “The witness of the martyrs across geography and history is the treasure and responsibility of every Christian,” says Dr. Foley. “We are each held accountable by God for its stewardship and transmission.”