By Cristina Corbin
On a rainy afternoon last Spring, American pastor Eric Foley and his wife stood in a muddy field near the North Korea border and prayed – their hands clasped to a 40-foot homemade balloon that would carry Bibles to the communist dictatorship’s underground Christians.
“I get choked up, every time, as I let go and watch it take off,” Foley told FoxNews.com.
The balloons, made from a large sheet of “farm plastic,” said Foley, are filled with hydrogen before the Bibles and “tracts” – testimonials written by other North Korean Christians – are attached at the bottom inside a sack or box. Timers are then used to release the materials in stages, dispersing them at high altitudes across North Korea. Foley and members of his Christian mission group, Seoul USA, use GPS technology to help direct where the Bibles land. Around 50,000 of them have dropped from the skies in the last year.
“They are the most persecuted believers on earth,” Foley said of North Korea’s estimated 100,000 Christians – 30,000 of whom are believed to be locked inside concentration camps, where they are overworked, starved, tortured, and killed. Other activist groups, like Open Doors USA, estimate that number to be even higher, reporting that the secretive nation has about 400,000 Christians.
In North Korea, the practice of Christianity is illegal. Owning a Bible is a crime, and any person caught with one is sent – along with three generations of his or her family – to prison. Foley said despite the risks, demand for Bibles is strong within North Korea. His group targets rural areas where they might be picked up discreetly, he said.