Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Opportunity to teach in North Korea

Two Liberty professors had a chance to teach students about electronics and technology in North Korea this summer

North Korea — Professor Jim Jones taught a group of North Korean students at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. Photo provided

Liberty professors Jim Jones and Feng Wang from the School of Engineering and Computational Sciences were given the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to North Korea and teach at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) this past summer.

PUST is the first and only privately-funded university in North Korea, founded by a Christian man who envisioned other believers coming to teach at the university. Over the years, the university has gained the trust of the highest levels of the North Korean government.

Although it is not specifically a Christian university, the school’s founder encourages believers to teach there so that they can ultimately become influential to the students and share Christ’s love with them. The students at this university are the top students in North Korea and are preparing to be the future leaders and elites of the country. For Jones and Wang, this underscores why it is such a vital ministry.

Both professors agreed that these students were the best that they had ever had.

According to Jones and Wang, access into and out of the campus is highly controlled. A high stone wall protected by armed guards surrounds the campus. For permission to leave, professors have to attain advanced approval from the central government, and they are accompanied by guards at all times when they are off campus. Students can leave only twice a year.

“We could not get out, and nobody else could get in,” Jones said.

The two professors also said that they had to deal with rather primitive living conditions. Sleeping on floors, eating food they were not accustomed to, facing very poor sanitation, and dealing with no air-conditioning in an extremely humid climate made life a bit challenging for the duo.

With the death of North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il this past December, the country faces uncertainty as the new leadership gains control and defines itself. Yet, rules at the university seem to be easing up a bit. Students and professors are now able to sit together at meals. The flexibility is due to the fact that the government trusts the university and those who teach there.

Referring to the government, Jones stated that “they see that we are genuine, that we are honest, that we work hard, so that has built trust.”

Wang taught two engineering classes, microelectronics and digital and logical circuits, during the spring semester, while Jones taught project-oriented programming over the month of July.

Wang said that he is eager to return and teach at the school because he “loves the students and faculty.”

Jones said that the decision is harder for him because it requires great sacrifice. He too loves the students very much, but “from a fleshly perspective, I would say no. But when you think of it spiritually, having the opportunity to impact 400 North Koreans who have never heard of God, how could you say no to that?”

Not only were the professors able to have a significant impact on the students, but also on the workers, military guards, North Korean officials and other professors on campus.

“There are many lives there that we can touch for God,” Jones said.

Jones and Wang are permitted to freely share about their experiences verbally, although they are limited as to what can be written and recorded. They would like to speak in detail to any students or campus groups who are interested in hearing about the wonderful things God has done through their time there and how he is still working in the university.

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