The Ross Bible re-enters North Korea 140 years after it first arrived!

In 1882, Koreans successfully smuggled the first ever Korean language version of the scriptures—in the form of the Gospel of Luke they had just translated with Missionary John Ross—from Moukden, China (today’s Shenyang) inside of what is today North Korea. Now 140 years later, according to persecution ministry Voice of the Martyrs Korea, Koreans have repeated the same feat—this time with copies of the ministry’s new John Ross Bible “Reader’s Edition” Gospel of Luke.

“In many ways, the situation today is the same as it was for John Ross and the first Korean Bible couriers,” says Voice of the Martyrs Korea Representative Dr Hyun Sook Foley. “The punishments for possessing a Bible or contacting a missionary are essentially the same as they were 140 years ago, namely, death. So the need for secrecy is the same today as it was for the first Korean Christians. But praise God, the power of the word of God remains the same as it did 140 years ago, too.”

Representative Foley says Voice of the Martyrs decided to disclose news of the re-entry of the Ross Bible into North Korea in order to challenge churches in Korea and globally to be involved in Bible-based ministry to North Koreans today.

“Christians outside of North Korea wrongly think that the only kinds of mission activity possible toward North Koreans today are things like teaching at North Korean universities, sending money for humanitarian aid through North Korean government-approved projects, or conducting training programs to plan for missions in the future when North Korea might ‘open’ to the gospel,” says Representative Foley. “But as the Apostle Paul wrote Timothy in 2 Timothy 2:9, ‘The word of God is not bound!’ The Bible is continuing to get inside North Korea today, and more North Koreans are reading it and being transformed by it today than at literally any other time in history.”

“We received confirmation that multiple copies of our Ross Bible Gospel of Luke entered North Korea this month and are in the hands of underground North Korean Christians, who are overjoyed to have them,” says Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, representative of Voice of the Martyrs Korea. She says that for security reasons related both to her organization and the recipients, the organization is keeping the exact details confidential. “It is now a criminal offense to bring a Bible into North Korea in any format—digital, print, or audio–from any country, including from here in South Korea,” says Representative Foley. She says the Ross Bible edition that entered North Korea intentionally has a different appearance than the one the ministry distributes in South Korea and elsewhere.

According to Representative Foley, independent surveys show that Bible-based ministry to North Koreans is continuing to increase the number of North Koreans who have seen a Bible inside of North Korea.

“The North Korean Human Rights Information Center, an independent data-gathering NGO, has been conducting an ongoing study where they found that in the year 2000, effectively 0% of people inside North Korea had ever seen a Bible with their own eyes,” says Representative Foley. “They have continued to update that study, and at the end of 2020 they determined that around 8% of people inside of North Korea have now seen a Bible with their own eyes.”

Representative Foley says Voice of the Martyrs Korea has distributed an average of 40,000 to 50,000 North Korean dialect Bibles a year for 20 years to North Korean citizens outside of South Korea, in print, audio, and digital formats using the Chosun Bible translation. She notes that the Bible is also read daily on Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s five shortwave radio broadcasts to North Korea. But she says the return of the Ross Bible to North Korea has special significance.

 “The Ross Bible is how the voice of Christ first came to ordinary Korean people, and in it Jesus and the other figures speak with a North Korean accent, since that was the accent of the translators,” says Representative Foley. “Ordinary North Korean people deserve to hear that original voice again today, and to experience the spiritual power of the original translation of the Bible into Korean.”

Dr. Foley notes that the Ross Bible was completed before the Korean language was standardized, so in its original form it is no longer readable by Koreans in either the north or the south. “Our new John Ross Bible ‘Reader’s Edition’ Gospel of Luke updates the text direction, word order, letters, grammar, and spelling so that modern readers can read it easily and understand it fully,” she says. “It retains the full original wording and adds simple notes to briefly and clearly explain unfamiliar vocabulary.”

The Ross Bible “Reader’s Edition” Gospel of Luke is available for purchase in Korea in the same size and shape as the original version. “It is a reader’s edition that ordinary Korean readers can understand. It is designed for easy, frequent reading and for tossing in your backpack to read on the subway, not for being displayed in a museum,” says Representative Foley. It is available for 10,000 KRW at  or by phone at 02-2065-0703.

Representative Foley believes all Koreans should read the Ross Bible at least once.

Dr. Hyun Sook Foley and Pastor Eric Foley, co-founders of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, display the ministry’s new Contemporary Reader’s Edition of the Ross Bible Gospel of John at a press conference in November 2022.

“The Ross Bible was for the first two decades of Korean Christianity the only hangul New Testament available to Koreans. It was the Bible of the Korean church during its formative period, and it left a permanent imprint on the Korean church in the form of a church that is Bible-centered and lay-driven. God used the Ross Bible powerfully to impart the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ to the first generation of Korean Christians even before missionaries arrived in Korea.”

The Ross Bible Reader’s Edition Gospel of Luke is the first of three Ross Bible versions Voice of the Martyrs Korea will be releasing over the next two years. The organization is currently working on a Luke/John/Acts trilogy edition for publication in mid-2023 and a full Ross New Testament “Contemporary Reader’s Edition” for publication in 2024. Representative Foley says that the organization intends to share these editions inside North Korea as well.

Individuals interested in learning more about Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s North Korean Bible ministry can visit

Posted in John Ross, North Korea | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Persecuted Christians omitted from international evangelism crusade. Again.

An estimated audience of 14,000 gathered on March 4 and 5 at the Phu Tho Sports Facility in Ho Chi Minh City to hear Reverend Franklin Graham, CEO of the US-based Billy Graham Evangelistic Association as he proclaimed the gospel and announced, “Jesus is in the city tonight.”

But according to Reverend Eric Foley, CEO of Seoul-based Voice of the Martyrs Korea, Rev. Graham omitted a crucial truth from his presentation.

“He did not mention that Jesus is also in prison tonight in Vietnam,” says Rev. Foley.

Rev. Foley noted that during the week of the Graham crusade, Voice of the Martyrs Korea received reports on four new cases of Christian persecution in Vietnam. “Each case involved believers in rural areas, pressured to renounce their faith and ultimately either forced to leave their village or be subject to violence and/or destruction of property,” says Rev. Foley. He says that what is happening in Vietnam is typical of the experience of Christians in other Communist countries.

Second night of Revered Franklin Graham’s Spring Love Festival, held at the Phu Tho Sports Facility in Ho Chi Minh City (Photo credit: March 6th post on Franklin Graham’s Facebook Page)

“It’s a pattern that goes back to Soviet times,” says Rev. Foley. “Communist governments are eager to portray to the rest of the world that religious freedom exists in their country. So they invite groups like the Graham association in to hold large-scale crusades that receive extensive coverage from the international media. The international evangelists praise the Communist government for their religious freedom. But in truth, there is only freedom for Christians and churches who register with the government and follow the government religious regulations. The Lord’s most faithful servants in the country are forgotten or ignored by each side for what they regrettably view as greater strategic gain.”

The United States Department of State currently includes Vietnam on its “Special Watch List” of countries under the terms of the International Religious Freedom Act (IRFA) of 1998, due to continuing reports of violations of religious freedom in the country. The US government’s Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) advocated in its 2022 report that the State Department should designate Vietnam as a “country of particular concern,” the highest level of religious freedom violation, for “engaging in systematic, ongoing, and egregious violations of religious freedom”.

The Executive Summary of the State Department’s 2021 Report on International Religious Freedom in Vietnam notes, “Religious activists blamed authorities for ‘manipulating’ recognized religious groups and accused their agents or proxies of causing conflicts in order to suppress the activities of unregistered groups.”

Rev. Foley sees the March Graham crusade in Ho Chi Minh City as the latest example of such manipulation. “The Graham Association explains that they were invited by local churches, and that during their visit they spoke to the government about religious freedom. But even the Graham Association website itself says they were ‘welcomed to the country by government officials in Hanoi, who granted permission’ for the event, and the Graham Association praised the government officials for ‘open support of religious freedom’. The Graham Association website praises the churches for ‘working together with the government of Vietnam’.”

Second night of Revered Franklin Graham’s Spring Love Festival, held at the Phu Tho Sports Facility in Ho Chi Minh City (Photo credit: March 6th post on Franklin Graham’s Facebook Page)

But Rev. Foley says the most concerning aspect of the crusade was the omission of any mention of the Christians who are currently experiencing persecution in Vietnam. Notes Foley, “According to Charisma News, Franklin Graham said that during the crusade, ‘We stood and prayed together for those in authority as the Bible commands.’ But the Bible also commands us to remember those who are in prison for their faith—to stand for them, and not to omit mentioning them. Jesus says that whatever we do to the least of his brothers and sisters, we do to him. So, failing to mention the active persecution of Christians in a country, simply to gain favor with the government, is not an acceptable evangelism strategy to Jesus.”

According to Rev. Foley, the Voice of the Martyrs movement has historically been critical of the Graham Association’s willingness to hold crusade events in Communist countries where Christians are actively experiencing persecution.

“The Graham Association has a long history of accepting such invitations and of portraying them as signs of growing religious freedom in a country,” says Rev. Foley. “But inviting the Graham Association to preach has not historically proven to be a sign of growing religious freedom in Communist countries.” Rev. Foley notes Billy Graham’s 1984 trip to Moscow to preach at a Baptist church. “Graham urged those in attendance to pray for and obey the government, and he thanked and praised the government for the invitation to come. But during the event, one Christian man unfurled a banner that asked, ‘What about the 200+ Baptist prisoners in the Gulag?’ Within two minutes, KGB officials had torn down the banner and arrested the brother.  He spent two years in prison. He was never mentioned by the Graham Association.”

A typical rural dwelling for Christians in Vietnam. (File photo from Voice of the Martyrs Australia)

Rev. Foley says Voice of the Martyrs Korea is requesting prayers for the four recent cases of persecution whose reports the organization received during the Graham crusade. “Let’s pray that the suffering and faithfulness of these persecuted brothers and sisters in Vietnam will not be forgotten even as the international news media focuses its reports on the crusade.”

  • “Pray for Vy, who became a Christian about a month ago. Her decision for Christ greatly angered her children who work for the local authorities. They physically attacked her and forced her out of her house. She is now staying with another believer. VOM will fund the purchase of a piece of land so Vy can cultivate it and provide for herself.”
  • “Pray for Brother Dang, a faithful servant of God. On more than one occasion he has been physically attacked by thugs and by the local authorities as he has gone about ministering to his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. Recently he was once again beaten, then his phone was confiscated, and his motorbike destroyed. VOM will fund the costs of replacements.”
  • “Pray for Xuyen, a former communist soldier. As a soldier, he received all kinds of benefits and subsidies from the government. But when he and his family accepted Christ, not only were all the benefits and subsidies cut but his land was also seized; he was also physically attacked. VOM will purchase some land for Xuyen and his family.”
  • “Lastly, pray for brother Kieu, whose house was burned and then demolished after he became a Christian. He set up a temporary shelter nearby, which is unstable. VOM will provide funds to rebuild or repair.”

Individuals interested in learning about or supporting Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s work in partnership with the persecuted Christians of Vietnam can visit

Posted in Vietnam | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Burkina Faso: As Jihadist attacks increase, VOM counters–with a major Bible distribution

More than 10,000 Christians in Burkina Faso have now been driven from their homes due to the violence of ISIS and al-Qaida. The believers are part of an estimated 2.3 million people displaced by jihadist attacks across West Africa. With the United Nations estimating 20% of the population of Burkina Faso now needing humanitarian aid, international groups are mobilizing to provide food, water, and shelter.

But according to Voice of the Martyrs Korea Representative Dr. Hyun Sook Foley, one overlooked need is now being met.

“During the intense persecution, many of these Christian families lost their most treasured possession – their family Bible,” says Representative Foley.

Now, thanks to a fundraising campaign conducted by Voice of the Martyrs Korea in partnership with Voice of the Martyrs Poland, these Christians are receiving Bibles, not only for their families, but also to give to their unsaved neighbors.

“Voice of the Martyrs in Korea is partnering with Voice of the Martyrs Poland and with local Burkina Faso church leaders to provide each family with two Bibles – one for their families and another for evangelism,” says Representative Foley. She says her organization transferred funds this month to print and distribute more than 1,400 Bibles—twice the campaign goal. These funds will be added to contributions from other Voice of the Martyrs organizations around the world to provide more than 5,400 Bibles to local believers.

Representative Foley says that with the last French soldiers leaving the country and January 2023 described by Burkina Faso officials as the deadliest month in the country’s history, even some Christians question whether the time is right to send Bibles.

A burned-out transport bus after a recent jihadist attack in Burkina Faso.

“Too often we Christians have a wrong thinking that Bible distribution must wait or be postponed until a conflict or war is over, as if political peace and humanitarian aid are necessary to first make an area ‘safe’ for the Bible,” says Representative Foley. “But the Word of God teaches that man cannot live by bread alone, and that is true even during a war. Conflicts like this can go on for a long time. If all that is provided is humanitarian aid, a whole generation of Christians grows up without biblical teaching. And it is that teaching—love your neighbor, turn the other cheek, forgive—that can put broken countries and relationships between citizens back together in healthy ways. Jihadists target and kill Christians because they consider Christians to be infidels. But the Bible says that a drought of God’s word is to be feared more than anything.”

Representative Foley says that Voice of the Martyrs Korea sees Bible distribution in major zones of conflict as one of the ministry’s core competencies and most important responsibilities. “Voice of the Martyrs Korea is not a mission organization but instead a partner with local Christians living under persecution or pressure,” says Representative Foley. “Any time a major conflict threatens an area, that’s when people in that area instinctively turn to God and become open to the Bible. They’re looking for hope. Sometimes missionary organizations evacuate their personnel in such times, or they urge their missionaries to be cautious. But local Christians have nowhere to go, nowhere to hide. Even as refugees, they still have to find work and provide food to their families and gather as church. God then seems to give these ordinary local Christians a special boldness to preach the gospel and share the Bible with their neighbors.”

Religious extremists attacked this church, destroying equipment and burning 400 Bibles

Representative Foley said that local believers’ requests for two Bibles—one for their own family and one to share with a non-Christian family in personal evangelistic outreach—motivated Voice of the Martyrs Korea to participate in the campaign to raise funds for Bibles. “These Burkina Faso believers rightly value the Word of God,” says Representative Foley. “Even as jihadists continue to hunt them down, they are focused not on their own safety but on glorifying God by spreading his word.”

Voice of the Martyrs Korea’s statistics indicate that Protestants compose only 6% of Burkina Faso’s population. According to Representative Foley, they have been under growing persecution since 2016—a fact not well known to Christians globally.

“Just this week I met with a Korean pastor who was not aware that Burkina Faso Christians were being persecuted,” says Representative Foley. “When I asked the source of his information, he said it was a missionary who had served there 20 years ago. But as I explained to the pastor, Burkina Faso has seen a sharp rise in Islamist activity since 2016. Militants linked to ISIS and al-Qaida, who had been largely contained in neighboring Mali and Niger, have crossed porous borders in the north to broaden their influence in the Sahel region. Christians have been a primary target of the jihadists’ campaign since April 2019, when approximately 70 Christians were killed and five churches were attacked. More than 200 churches have reportedly closed in northern and eastern Burkina Faso due to security issues and threat of attack. That’s why it’s important for Christians to stay up to date on persecution information: If Christians rely on outdated information, then our brothers and sisters are deprived of the prayers the Bible commands us to pray on behalf of those suffering because of their testimony for Christ.”

Christians in Burkina Faso receive Bibles

Representative Foley says Christians can pray the following for believers in Burkina Faso:

– Pray for believers encircled by jihadists. May God give them strength and boldness to trust in him and not deny him even in the worst trial.

– Pray for those who’ve lost their loved ones.

– Pray for God’s wisdom to continue the ministry to Burkina Faso believers.

– Pray for the evangelistic efforts of Burkina Faso believers as they distribute the Bibles from Voice of the Martyrs to their unbelieving neighbors.

Individuals interested in more information about Christian persecution in Burkina Faso can visit

Posted in Burkina Faso | Tagged , , , , , | 1 Comment