BALTIMORE – Amidst furor and talks of punishing North Korea for its missile test fires earlier this week, Franklin Graham at the Metro Maryland Festival spoke about his father’s relationship with the country’s president saying, ‘‘Kim Il Sung liked my father.’’
The president and CEO of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA) and president of the international relief organization Samaritan’s Purse shared about the more-than-decade-long relationship between the Grahams and North Korea on Friday at the opening night of the Metro Maryland 2006 Franklin Graham Festival.
“My father was invited by Kim Il Sung in 1992 to go to North Korea. Many people said, ‘Don’t go, it is a trap and they might put poison in your food and try to assassinate you,’” the son of the Rev. Billy Graham recalled. “My father went to North Korea and he met with the president of North Korea, presented the Bible and even witnessed and preached to Kim Il Sung. And Kim Il Sung liked my father – liked him.”
“He invited him in 1994 and [my father] went back to North Korea and this time he took a larger delegation and was able to speak at their university and preach at the only two churches opened [in the country],” continued Graham. “In 1997 my mother was invited to go and in 2000 I had the privilege to go and preach in the churches and meet with many of the government leaders.”
The head of BGEA shared with the crowd of some 12,000 people in Oriole Park that BGEA as well as Samaritan’s Purse is working in North Korea doing TV work, setting up dental clinics and an intensive care unit. Graham noted that next month a delegation would be sent to North Korea with medical equipment.
“We have been working quietly in that country – quietly hoping that we could have an influence for good,” said Graham. “Hoping that as American citizens we can be good ambassadors, but more importantly, as Christians, to represent the one true God and His son, the Lord Jesus Christ, in a country that says ‘We are atheist’ and ‘We don’t believe in God’ and ‘God does not exist.’
“We want to go in and lift the name of God’s son, the Lord Jesus Christ.”
The Metro Maryland Festival was organized by 655 area churches and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. The three-day event on end Sunday, July 9.