North Koreans have no concepts of a spiritual world, of sin and forgiveness, of prayer, or of a transcendent, eternal deity. (Even when Kim Il Sung is worshiped, he is not mistaken for a transcendent, eternal deity but rather is revered Confucian-style as the great ancestor of the North Korean people.)
So as we are preparing our two new Bibles for publication–one, a North Korean study Bible and the other, a North Korean/English Parallel study Bible–we experienced again the same great challenge we experience each time we publish a North Korean Bible: How to describe the Bible in a single page, in a way they can understand, in a way that says everything that needs to be said.
Here’s what Dr. Foley and I wrote. We used the Nicene Creed as our guide for “everything that needs to be said,” and we used our experience with North Koreans, coupled with a whole lot of prayer, to write in a way they can understand.
Greetings to the Reader.
This book is the most widely read book in history. It has been read by people in every country of the world. It is loved by billions of people because it tells the good news about the one true God, who is a good and loving and all powerful God who rules over the whole universe.
This news did not originate in Korea or America or in any country on earth, though it has been announced in every country and is being sent to all people. As you will read in the beginning of this book, God created the heavens and the earth. He remains active in every country on earth to this day, including North Korea. He creates each one of us in love, including you. Because of his love, he is even now setting right every wrong that has been committed by every human being, including us.
As you will also read in the book, he has accomplished this by being born on earth as a man even while he continued to rule from heaven. This man, Jesus Christ, showed us the way to God and how we should live our lives. He was rejected by those to whom he came, and they killed him. But he was raised from the dead, forgave those who turned against him, and ascended into heaven. He will soon return to end history. He will rescue those who trust him but also punish those who have rejected his forgiveness. Until his return, his spirit is present with us on earth, willing to live inside all of us who will receive him in order to guide us back to God.
This book will tell you the good news of how to invite the one true God to live inside you so that you may be made ready for his soon return. Just as Jesus Christ died and was raised again, those in whom God’s spirit lives will also be raised from the dead and given power to overcome evil. Please read this book to learn how.
The proof of God’s love is that he has used all of the circumstances of your life to bring you to the point where you now hold this good news in your own hands, in your own language. We encourage you not to set aside this book. The purpose and destiny of your life, as well as the meaning of everything you have so far experienced, is contained within.
Warmly in Christ,
The Rev. Dr. Eric Foley and Dr. Hyun Sook Foley
Now, turn yourself to this task: What would you write if you were printing a Bible and sending it to North Koreans?
If you’re interested in learning more about our new North Korean/English Parallel Bible or our North Korean study Bible, please contact Pastor Tim at [email protected].
I was moved by what was written. I believe however, that for any new believer who has no understanding of the bible or how to use it, the prospect of having to learn the whole bible to know God is very daunting task. I would like to minimize the task and lead the readers to a beginning place in the scriptures. We just don’t know how to find him until we are told the truth. Since scripture reveals the truth of who God is and how we may invite him into our lives, I would like to add specific scripture references for a few choice verses that can lead anyone to a personal faith in Jesus as Lord and Savior. I believe that when we share these truths, the Holy Spirit confirms the truth to the hearts of people, and it is there that salvation begins. John 3;16, Romans 10: 9-11 and also a recommendation that the reader begin with the introduction to the person of Jesus Christ given in John chapter one.
Good recommendations, Bev! Interestingly, FYI, we’ve found a fruitful response beginning with the book of Genesis rather than the Gospels. (That’s why we’re including it in our balloon-launched Bibles this year.) For NKs, even the idea that God created the heavens and the earth is a radical departure from everything they’ve ever heard or known.
This explanation would serve well in any country. Great!
Bev has a good point. Maybe a rifle, rather than a shotgun, approach would be easier to comprehend for a first time introduction to the Word. The Bible has a lot of info to digest, so maybe get the most important aspect up front & then let the new Believer’s knowledge grow in levels (?)
Good thoughts, Tim. One aspect that may be helpful to keep in mind is that very few NKs act with a commitment to Christ upon first reading the Bible–even in a guided and helpful setting. Typically it is very hard soil and takes multiple exposures and approaches to make progress. So it is not so much a matter of selecting one technique but rather making use of multiple ones. We have NKs who have been in solid guided evangelical Bible studies for years but who still struggle to understand the first principles of the faith. Paul’s admonition that some plant, some water, and some harvest certainly applies to gospel work with NKs.
Reblogged this on Missio Links.
A pity you wrote the translation from your Trintiarian view and tried to impose your trinitarian dogmatic view in the Koreans instead letting the Word of God speak for it self. According to the Bible there is only One God and Jesus is not this God but the son of God. Writing your trinitarian foreword this makes that lots of real Christians shall not be able to offer your translation to the Koreans, because you did not dare the Word of God speak for itself and let God call the people themselves to Him. (Though luckily this still happens even with trinitarian Bible translations, so we do not have to be afraid for that.) But by staying neutral you would have had the opportunity to reach more people with your translation – a missed chance.
Thanks for writing, Bijbelvorsers. While it is certainly true that I and VOM Korea are trinitarian and affirm the Nicene Creed, our reason for including the trinitarian orientation in the introduction is not simply due to our own beliefs. Rather, it is because the purpose of VOM Korea is to support the work of the underground North Korean church, which, interestingly, is fundamentally trinitarian, affirming the Apostles’ Creed as one of the four “pillars” of their faith going back to the inception of their church in the late 1800’s.
Thanks for your comment which we also placed as a comment on the article we wrote.
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Good luck with the publication and spreading of the Bible.
Thank you, Bijbelvorsers.
Like beverliemyers and timsapp30045 pointed out the Holy Scriptures has so much to say it would be best to concentrate on the most important facts, which could be for all Christians (trinitarian and unitarian) the same namely that there is only One True Divine God Creator and that He has given His son for salvation for the whole world.
The other aspect next to the love of God is the Plan God has with the universe offering, by His son, the Way to a restored relationship with God and the ability to look forward to a renewed world, where every body shall be able to live in peace with each other.
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