Eric Foley, the CEO of Voice of the Martyrs Korea, is awaiting charges for launching Bibles into North Korea using balloons.
According to Mission Network News, South Korean police already recommended that Foley be charged on three counts, which means it is no longer a question of "if" he will be charged, but "when."
"Essentially, the police recommending the charges guarantees that I'll be charged; it's just a question of when. Could be tomorrow, could be next week, could be next month; we don't know," Foley told Mission Network News.
Foley explained that the first charge has something to do with violating an "inter-Korean exchange law" that regulates items being sold from South Korea to North Korea, which requires government approval. The second charge is about how balloon launching resulted in a "national threat" to South Korea. And the third charge is related with the use of high-pressure gas.
Foley and his team have been launching Bible balloons into North Korea for 15 years to fulfill a promise he made to North Korean Christians in 2003. The underground believers told him they needed more Bibles in the form of a reading material and through broadcast. Foley worked on responding to these requests, according to World Magazine.
Sending balloons containing Bibles to North Korea is not easy. VOM Korea uses computer modeling to study various factors, such as wind, to ensure successful launches. The team then goes to the border, where they release balloons containing the New Testament and memory cards with audio Bible files.
"For 15 years, we've had a good relationship with the authorities," Foley said. "We've had police, military, even the intelligence services present at all of our launches."
When VOM Korea did the Bible balloons this year, Foley asked the police if what they were doing is illegal. The police said no, but cautioned him they should not do it in that location.
"Our case asks, '[Should] launching Bible balloons, which has been legal up until this point in time, be considered illegal not just going forward, but related to past launches?" Foley said.
In June, the South Korean authorities informed Foley and his team that balloon launches had been officially stopped. They were also warned that if they continued with the activity, 100 police officers would stop them, a previous report from Mission Network News said.
The crackdown on balloon launches began after North and South Korea signed a pact in April 2018, which includes an agreement saying the South Korean government would ensure that balloon launches into North Korea would cease. However, no legislation has been enacted specifically against balloon launches.
But now, with the South Korean president enjoying popularity for how he handled the coronavirus pandemic and the National Assembly belonging to the same party as he, conditions appear to be favorable in passing a law "that fulfills what South Korea agreed to do in the April 2018 meetings," Foley explained.
Despite the charges he is facing, Foley said there are things he was still thankful for. Two other groups doing balloon launches to North Korea are facing charges. They primarily send flyers containing political commentaries, unlike VOM Korea, which sends Bibles.
These two groups were also charged with "embezzlement and mismanagement of donations." VOM Korea did not face similar charges, which Foley believed showed a distinction between their ministry and the other balloon launching groups.
"We're making a testimony that Christian organizations are different than political organizations. We act differently. We show respect for authority; we follow a higher standard in our current accounting practices," he said.
He asked believers to pray that Bibles would continue to be sent to North Korea.
"God is finding ways to get Bibles into North Korea. We're amazed at the avenues He's opening. Please pray that continues. Pray that God is glorified," Foley added.