North Korea Project Responding in Mercy at Christmas by Rev. Patrick O’Neal, LCMS World Mission
The month of December brings a time of rest for farmers who have completed their fall harvesting. The bounty of the fields is safely stored in grain bins and elevators. Snow can cover the ground and there is no thought that there won’t be enough food for the next year.
But in North Korea, as snow blankets the rugged terrain, there is always a question of having enough food. Even after a good harvest is gathered in the fall, that harvest may slowly dwindle in the coming months because the farmers in North Korea store the harvest in rice-straw silos. Up to 50 percent of the grain is lost due to mold, rot, and rodents. While we are celebrating the Christmas season, with abundant food at every gathering, in North Korea the people wonder if there will be enough.
As we give and receive gifts at Christmas, we are reminded of the gift that was given on the first Christmas – the baby Jesus, born to be our Savior, and born to make us His people. His love leads us to acts of mercy. One way to respond in mercy this Christmas season is to share some of the blessings you have received to help the farmers in North Korea. Help them preserve their harvest by funding grain bins like those used here in Missouri. Congregation members can work together to raise the needed funds. For only $150 each, 20 donors can provide one 10 ton grain bin.
Another way to respond in mercy to needs in North Korea is to provide warm winter coats for the children who live on the four farms where the LCMS is working. Approximately 5,000 children need these winter coats. A new coat can be purchased and sent to these children for just $13. Funds collected for this project will be used for the winter of 2011-12.
This Christmas season, prayerfully consider how you and your congregation can respond in mercy through your support of the work in North Korea. Make checks payable to "The Missouri District" with North Korea Grain Bins or North Korea Coats on the memo line and send to:
The Missouri District in convention agreed to support LCMS World Mission in its work in North Korea.
At convention, we learned:
22.5 million people live in North Korea, but less than 2 percent are Christian.*
40 percent of the population* is underdeveloped.
Reports indicate another famine may be developing.
Many people need basic necessities.
Agricultural productivity is low.
The LCMS has the opportunity to work in a humanitarian aid and agricultural development project on four farms and their villages south of the capital of Pyongyang. There are 6,178 acres under cultivation with 7,000 farm laborers out of a total population of 15,000. LCMS World Mission has entered a joint venture of local workers and outside assistance with goals of self-sustainable community development, food security, and turning the farms into model self sufficient agricultural communities.
The joint venture farms have proven successful so far. Their yields have increased six times, income levels have risen two to five times, and after three years, the farmers did not need outside food assistance (but were in need again a year later following devastating floods). The farms are still not self-sustaining without outside input like seed, fertilizer, and equipment. LCMS World Mission and the Missouri District are involved to help meet the needs of people in North Korea, to demonstrate the love of Christ in "deed,” to gain a positive image as Lutheran Christians among the people in North Korea, and to develop long-term relationships for future work.
If you, your Bible study group, Sunday school class, other group or congregation are ready to make a financial contribution to the North Korean Outreach, make a check out to the Missouri District, with North Korea in the memo line, and send to "N. Korea Mission" The Missouri District, 660 Mason Ridge Center Drive, Suite 100, St. Louis MO, 63141. Congregations may include with monthly distributions.
Together we can have a significant impact in the lives of the people living in North Korea.
* Statistic source: World Christian Database, 2005
A farmer with one of the backpack sprayers donated by the LCMS.
Our American partner, Piljo Kim Joo, Ph.D. (right), examining a successful joint venture field.
Farming in North Korea uses intensive manual labor.