A ribbon cutting ceremony marked the opening of Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s new regional office in the Seomyeon neighborhood of Busan on Saturday, January 20. But unlike most ribbon cutting ceremonies, the ribbon cutters were not local dignitaries, board members, or megachurch pastors.
“It was important to us to have our regular Busan volunteers, donors, and newsletter subscribers be the ones to cut the ribbon, because this office is for them,” said Voice of the Martyrs Korea Representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley. She says the purpose of the ministry’s regional offices is to give local Christians and churches the opportunity to directly serve and learn from underground Christians in North Korea and the 70 other countries around the world where Christians are persecuted for their faith. “Hebrews 13:3 commands all Christians to remember our persecuted brothers and sisters as though we ourselves were in prison,” says Representative Foley. “That means serving the persecuted is the responsibility of every church and Christian in the Busan area. So our new office in Busan is designed to be a place where ordinary Busan believers can come together regularly to carry out that biblical command.”
Voice of the Martyrs Korea CEO Pastor Eric Foley (far left) and Representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley (far right)
More than 40 volunteers crowded around the small doorway to jointly cut the red, green, and white ribbon officially opening the Busan office, which joins Seoul, Daejeon, and Jeju as Voice of the Martyrs office locations. Representative Foley says the red, white, and green colors represent the historical colors the early Christian church used to designate the three kinds of martyrdom described in the Bible: dying to self (green martyrdom), dying to the world (white martyrdom), and the formal martyrdom of death due to faithful Christian witness (red martyrdom).
Representative Foley and her husband, Voice of the Martyrs Korea CEO Pastor Eric Foley, welcomed the more than 50 guests with a special worship service focused on serving and learning from persecuted Christians in North Korea and other countries. Ministry staff braved the rainy conditions to grill American style outdoor barbeque for guests.
Representative Foley says that Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s volunteers serve in a wide variety of ministry tasks including editing and recording the ministry’s daily radio broadcasts to North Korea and China, writing letters to Christians imprisoned for their faith, preparing audio and digital Bibles for distribution to North Koreans wherever they are found, printing the ministry’s books, translating materials, helping with office administration, hosting overseas visitors, and assisting in the operation of the ministry’s extensive media operation, which includes monthly newsletter design and printing in multiple languages, as well as operation of its Korean, Chinese, Russian, and English language social media channels.
Voice of the Martyrs Korea Busan Site Leader Pastor Tim Dillmuth braves the rain to grill American style barbeque for guests at the ministry’s grand opening event in Seomyeon.
Representative Foley says that each of the 15 Voice of the Martyrs organizations around the world is independent but shares a common history, including a strong reliance on volunteers for much of the organizations’ ministry.
“Since it was founded worldwide in 1967, Voice of the Martyrs has always been a volunteer–driven organization, even though our work can be quite complex and dangerous,” says Representative Foley. “Bible smuggling, getting aid to families of Christian martyrs and prisoners, supporting underground Christian ministry—VOM volunteers have always been involved in these efforts. Voice of the Martyrs does not use or work with professional missionaries but instead connects directly with ordinary local Christians who are being persecuted for their faith. This gives volunteers amazing opportunities to learn firsthand how to remain faithful witnesses to Christ under the most difficult circumstances.”
Representative Foley says her organization’s use of volunteers also keeps operating costs low. “We decided not to have a headquarters building and not to hire many staff,” says Representative Foley. “Instead, we operate small regional offices in a growing number of locations around Korea, with most of the ministry done by volunteers. This keeps our overhead costs below 5 percent and enables us to efficiently use our donations to serve as many persecuted believers as possible.” Representative Foley says the ministry is currently hiring a few staff for the Busan office, including an office coordinator, media manager, and translator.
Guests at Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s Busan office grand opening event enjoy an American style barbeque lunch prepared by the ministry.
For some of the guests at the open house, this was their first encounter with Voice of the Martyrs Korea, but other Busan Christians have engaged with the ministry for years, subscribing to the newsletter, donating to the ministry’s projects, and participating in the “Preparing for the Underground Church” camping seminars the ministry has offered quarterly in Busan over the past year.
“I’ve attended three Voice of the Martyrs’ Korea training events in Busan with my husband,” said Yeo Ju Young Samonim. “The first was a camping seminar where I discovered that we should learn from North Korean underground Christians, not just help them or pity them. The second was also a camping seminar, where I learned about how to make household worship the center of my family’s daily spiritual growth. The third was in the new office here this week, where we learned about the apostolic proclamation as the content of Christian evangelism. I look forward to volunteering here to record the radio sermons for broadcast to North Korea.”
Individuals interested in volunteering or applying for employment at Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s regional offices in Seoul, Daejeon, Busan, and Jeju can contact Voice of the Martyrs Korea for more information at 02-2065-0703 or by email at [email protected].