Underground University isn’t just a school that teaches North Korean defectors how to do North Korean ministry—it’s a school through which North Koreans actually do North Korean ministry. Rather than waiting for Reunification, UU students take steps toward reunification by ministering to their own people—North Koreans who have defected, been sex trafficked, or who have been sent out to work in order to make money for the NK regime in countries around the world.
PLANTING THE UNDERGROUND CHURCH IN UU SEOUL
One NK UU student prays before the start of class. She is studying the book Planting the Underground Church.
On account of the strict Coronavirus regulations in Seoul, we have been unable to do a large group UU class. In order to follow the regulation, we’ve split into small groups of 3-4 students and taught the same class multiple times during the week. Because of all the small groups that meet, we’ve had to become creative with our teaching locations.
We decided to meet in the style of the underground church: in individual homes — and our students understand the reason why right away! Many students, as soon as they enter the house, say, “Just like the underground church!”
The textbook for this quarter is Planting the Underground Church, a book that gleans from the example of the underground church around the world and throughout history to give church leaders practical steps for transitioning underground. Upon reading the book, some of our students said, “Pastors need to know these things!” We help them to realize that God has given the training to them for a reason, and that he has been perfectly preparing them to be underground church leaders, especially because they learned in NK how to be experts on surviving, sending finances, and engaging in activities off-the-grid. When we tell them this, they are amused but also amazed: Could God really use them more than traditional pastors?
Most defectors from NK are not of high social standing. They generally defect on account of poverty, hunger, or to escape punishment for crimes against the NK state. But, when we think about how God has chosen them to receive underground church training, we are reminded of 1 Corinthians 1:26-27, “…not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world…” (ESV)
Prayer Requests for this project
- Pray for resolution of conflicts among students – Please pray for the resolution of conflicts among our UU students and interns. Particularly, two students keep repeating a pattern of having conflicts and resolving them numerous times in the same week. Please pray that God will continue to grow them through this process, increase their love for one another, and keep them from giving up on attending UU.
- Pray for our new UU/UT Daejeon location – We have been so blessed to have new NK students that have a desire to learn God’s word and be missionaries to their own people. Pray for our staff and current UU students (from Seoul) as they reach out to NKs in the Daejeon region of SK (2.5 hours South of Seoul).
About Underground University
1. We train and deploy students for ministry to North Korea today.
We do “works of mercy field trips” each month where we practice sharing our bread, opening our homes, healing and comforting, visiting and remembering, and other disciplines with North Korean defectors and South Korean outcasts. Students are required to minister to NKs internationally before they graduate. That puts them in a very small category of experienced NK ministers!
2. There is an emphasis on hearing and doing the word.
This is not only a field ministry training program. There are homework assignments and quizzes for every class session. Students memorize large amounts of scripture weekly, in keeping with the tradition of the North Korean underground church. Each of our tracks, like Persecution Theology (using In The Shadow Of The Cross), is serious study. We hold ourselves and our students to a seminary standard in theology while offering and requiring more practical theological participation than many South Korean seminaries.
3. Rooted in mentoring.
1 Timothy 3:1-5 shows that the key to effective missionary service is learning to be an effective minister in one’s own family. That can only be learned life-on-life, and that has made UU a one day classroom experience supplemented by a six day supervised life experience—one that continues well beyond their graduation.
Alumni mentor existing students by acting as examples, coaches, and understanding elder brothers and sisters. This is proving to be a crucial missing piece in both enabling more thorough instruction and also creating greater connection with our alumni.