THIS ARTICLE WAS FIRST PUBLISHED IN 2009
Franklin Graham, president of the BGEA and Samaritan’s Purse, met with government officials, visited medical projects, and pledged more aid during an Oct. 12-15 visit to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), known to most as North Korea.
This was his third trip to the country rarely visited by Americans, but his family has a long history in the DPRK, going back to 1934 when his mother Ruth Bell Graham attended a mission school in Pyongyang. His father Billy visited in 1992 and 1994, meeting with President Kim Il Sung.
Franklin’s latest visit coincided with the delivery of $190,000 worth of dental equipment to outfit a school that can train up to 70 rural dentists a year. Samaritan’s Purse has provided more than $10 million in medical and dental equipment and other assistance in the country since 1997.
During this trip, Franklin also returned to a provincial hospital where a generator system installed by Samaritan’s Purse, in conjunction with USAID, is providing electrical power. Fourteen months ago, the delegation saw doctors operating in near darkness, having to rely on sunlight seeping through windows. Franklin pledged then to provide electricity for the facility.
“It is good to come back and see that generator installed and producing electricity for the operating room and for other areas of the hospital,” he said.
Shortly after arriving, Franklin met with several high-ranking officials, including Kim Kye-Gwan, the DPRK Vice Foreign Minister and his country’s representative at the six-party talks between the U.S., Russia, China, Japan, and the two Koreas.
“I spoke to Deputy Foreign Minister Kim about things of faith, about giving more freedom to the people of faith of this nation,” Franklin said. “And he listened.”
Prior to beginning his visit, he said: “I believe it is important to make visits like this to help improve relations and to have better understanding with each other. I’m going as a minister of Jesus Christ with a message of peace and that God loves each one of us regardless of our borders or politics.”
Last year Franklin preached at a newly constructed Protestant church in Pyongyang