TAEBAEK, South Korea – Ben Torrey is the great-grandson of Dr. Reuben Archer Torrey, author, preacher, and one of D.L. Moody’s associate evangelists. Ben’s lineage is one of preachers. His grandfather was a missionary to China. His father was the founder of Jesus Abbey in South Korea.
After his father died in 2002, the staff of Jesus Abbey urged Ben to leave his home in Connecticut and relocate to South Korea where he had been raised. During a time of prayer in 2005, Ben felt God directing him to respond to the invitation of the Korean Christians. He believed that the Lord was telling him that the time was coming that North and South Korea would be unified – but the Christians in South Korea were not ready.
Now that a summit meeting has been scheduled between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jung Un, the eyes of the world are on the Korean Peninsula. The summit is a 180-degree reset from the previous war of words and the threat of potential nuclear confrontations.
Torrey’s in-depth studies of the Korean culture, much of it based on his own father’s writings in the Korean language, confirmed the burden the Lord had laid on his heart. Much of the results of his efforts is now available on his Fourth River Project website. Jesus Abbey is located near the junction of three rivers. The Fourth River is the River of Life available only through Jesus Christ (See John 4:14). The project prepares South Korean Christians to present the gospel to “North Koreans whose minds and hearts have atrophied in the darkness of the communist rule.”
Torrey explains that “North Korea is a nation and society that has become thoroughly pathological. Every aspect from the lowliest individual to the greatest institutions needs transformation and healing. This is not something that can happen overnight.”
While the world may rejoice at a reunification, reality is that reunification will not come easily for either the North or the South.
Opinions in the South are divided. The older generation longs for a united country but the younger generation regards the divided border as normal. This schism includes many believers who have an entrenched anti-North Korean perspective.
The Christians in South Korea must be prepared to holistically address the needs of the North Koreans who will likely rush to accept and embrace what for them is new. Torrey subtly cautions that although “love will open doors and confirm truth . . . others may come with flash and cash, without love.” An unprepared church could create a vacuum in which others will be quick to step and lead those who are hungry for truth and life into other realms of bondage.
Pray for the Christians in South Korea as they prepare for the mission field that may soon be opened to them.
- Religious News Service, In leery South Korea, American missionary couple works for reunification of North and South
- The Layman, Fourth-generation evangelist points gospel at North Koreans
- 4th River website
- BGC Archives at the Wheaton College Billy Graham Center, Papers of Reuben Archer Torrey III
- Public Domain, By Photograph: NASA (NASA World Wind Globe, version 1.4) [GPL or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons