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Rick Warren Confirms Visit To North Korea On July 17 In Preparation For Historic Preaching Visit Next Year
Pastor and Best-selling Author Reiterates He Will Go Anywhere to Preach the Gospel, Regardless of Politics

By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

Saturday, July 8, 2006

LAKE FOREST , CA (ANS) — Rick Warren has confirmed plans to visit the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) on July 17 to meet with church and business leaders, despite the current standoff over recent missile firings by the isolated communist country.
“Regardless of politics, I will go anywhere I am invited to preach the Gospel,” said Warren , pastor of Saddleback Valley Community Church in Lake Forest , California , and best-selling author of “The Purpose Driven Life” and “The Purpose Driven Church.”

Contrary to recent media reports, Rick Warren’s visit to North Korea later this month is to meet with leadership in preparation for his return to preach in March 2007, in conjunction with the 100th Anniversary of the Pyongyang Revival in what is now the capital city.

“In late June, prior to his departure on a 35-day tour of 13 Asian and African countries, a delegation of South Korean businessmen working with representatives from North Korea visited Dr. Warren at Saddleback Church ,” said a news release issued by A. Larry Ross Communications. “They told him they had quietly received permission to hold the first public outdoor Christian service in North Korea in 50 years.

“Knowing the impact of his books in South Korea , the delegation invited Dr. Warren to be the preacher at the event to be held at a 15,000-seat stadium next spring. Since the United States does not maintain diplomatic relations with North Korea , this group will facilitate his participation.”

Warren arrives in South Korea on July 12 for meetings with government, political and church leaders, including pastoral training and large evangelistic events at outdoor stadiums in Seoul and Busan. After speaking to US troops at a military base near the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), Dr. Warren and his team will cross the border to meet with the invitational committee in Kaesong .

Warren said that he hopes that through these visits he can promote religious freedom in a country where individual faith practice has been tightly controlled and virtually prohibited since 1945.

Note: Dan Wooding is one of the few Christian journalists ever allowed to report from North Korea.