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.
[Names may have been changed for security purposes]
BIBLE DANCE THERAPY AND
THE “SHERMAN INVADER SHIP”
Recently, as two UU students learned during Bible dance therapy class about Missionary Robert Thomas and how he worked to introduce the Bible to Korea, they realized that they had already been taught this history before—just from the perspective of the NK government! These two students are Mrs. E and Mrs. Y.
During class, when Dr. Foley said that Missionary Thomas was aboard the ‘General Sherman’, Mrs. E remembered an “Invader Ship Sherman” event that she had attended in her youth in North Korea.
Mrs. E shared that, when she was in her early teens and living in Pyongyang, during a cold season, there was an event held on the Daedong river. Mrs. E had heard about the event from her mother, and many citizens of Pyongyang came to attend the event. The event was the burning of the “Sherman Invader Ship”, held by the NK government.
High schoolers and college students volunteered their time to make replicas of the ships and recreate the events of the General Sherman incident. The NK government said that Missionary Thomas came to take Prince Daewongun’s crown, but Kim Il-Sung’s grandfather Kim Eung-Woo drove Missionary Thomas away and sent a fireship toward the General Sherman and incinerated it. Mrs. E said that the onlookers watched the burning ship and were impressed.
Mrs. Y and another student practice dance at night on a Jeju mission trip
According to Mrs. E, most NKs would know about the General Sherman incident but may not have heard about Missionary Thomas.
As for Mrs. Y, she said that she also learned about the “Invader Ship Sherman” when she was young. But, when she learned about this subject, she did not hear that Missionary Thomas was aboard the General Sherman. She just learned that America tried to invade via the General Sherman. She explained that that is why it is referred to as the “Invader Ship Sherman”.
Before attending the first dance therapy class, Mrs. Y simply thought that it would be great to get some exercise by attending the class. But, after attending the first class and hearing Dr. Foley’s explanation of Bible dance therapy, what Mrs. Y realized is that the students are learning how to express themselves through dance such that the emotions they express would be understandable to those who are watching. Also, Mrs. Y said that she thinks that it is a very good thing that, through this dance, people’s trauma can be treated. Mrs. Y said that she has not been able to understand the deep meaning of dance yet, but, as she looked at the larger picture, she realized that it is not just a simple dance class.
Mrs. Y is thinking that the General Sherman incident will have to be expressed in the form of a play or musical and that, because they are currently still learning basic dance steps, the skill required to express such content would be very high-level. Mrs. Y thinks that, in order for the students to express at that level, they will have to develop three things. First, they have to develop their basic dance skills. Second, they have to develop a deep understanding of the history of the Bible in their heart. Third, they have to develop the skill of expressing their emotions. She expects that it will be difficult to develop these three, but she still has a heart to continue to learn.
Prayer Requests for this project
- Pray for soundness of mind for a UU student – One of our UU students is suffering from a mental illness. She has tried to overcome the illness with medicine only to have the doctor recommend a treatment plan of stronger medication combined with liver medication. Please pray for the Lord to give her soundness of mind through the Holy Spirit.
- Pray for UU Students participating in Bible dance therapy – Pray for UU students participating in the Bible dance therapy class to know and express the history of the Bible in Korea and for the word of God to guide them in overcoming trauma.
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.