Fourteen Korean-American Southern Baptist pastors witnessed communist North Korea’s first celebration of Easter in 43 years during a historic visit to Pyongyang. It was the first time an evangelical delegation has been invited to the capital city that was once called the Jerusalem of the East.

Dan Moon, a Southern Baptist Home Mission Board consultant for Korean church growth and church planting, led the delegation.

The official Easter services at Bongsoo Church, a state-sanctioned nondenominational church (and the only Protestant church building in the country), were led by North Korean pastor Lee Sung Bong. With news media present from the Soviet Union, China, and North Korea, Communion was observed. “When I took the bread, I could see the reality of the broken body among us,” said Moon.

The congregation consisted mostly of government-invited guests who were emotionally and physically distant from the delegation. But there was evidence of several committed Christians among the estimated 400 people. Moon observed one elderly woman who knew the Scripture and hymns by memory.

Almost Canceled

Days prior to the delegation’s departure they received word from North Korea not to come. Chung Lim Chun, publisher of the Toronto-based New Korea Times, immediately flew to Pyongyang to talk with government officials. (Chun refuses to discuss the nature of the misunderstanding.) Meanwhile, Moon decided to proceed without visas to North Korea by way of Beijing. “I was sure in my heart that the Lord wanted us to go,” he said.

In Beijing, Moon met with Li Chun Gen, second secretary at the North Korean embassy, and asked for permission to “return to the country of our birth with nonpolitical purposes.” With Chun’s diplomatic assistance, the delegation received their visas and entry tickets at 11 P.M. the day before their flight to Pyongyang.

Chun, who stayed in North Korea an additional week, said government officials were pleased with the Southern Baptists’ visit and would be open to future visits

By Dan Burton

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