Evangelist Franklin Graham has a rich family history in North Korea. His mother, Ruth Graham, attended high school in Pyongyang in the 1930’s. His father, Billy Graham, visited the communist country in 1992 and 1994. Franklin Graham has also made four humanitarian trips to the North while leading Samaritan’s Purse in a variety of campaigns to help the North Korean people.
This engagement has led him to speak directly with President Trump on several occasions about North Korea, urging him to pay attention.
“This conflict needs to be settled,” he told CBN News during an interview Tuesday. “I’m 65 years old so my entire life we’ve basically been at war with North Korea.”
Does Graham think the Singapore summit between Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un helped? He says he’s “very optimistic” about it.
“I think the North Koreans have been wanting to talk to the Americans for a long time and this is the first administration that they’ve been able to talk to directly like this,” the evangelist said.
Graham believes the North Koreans are a prideful people and that the Trump administration has engaged them well.
“The North Koreans just want to be shown respect and other administrations brushed them off like they were nothing,” he said.
Graham also believes that the summit will begin to ease the North Korean government’s persecution of Christians.
David Curry, a religious freedom advocate and the president of Open Doors USA, told CBN News on Friday that “Christians are considered the number one enemies of the state in North Korea.” He said the government views their faith in God and not Kim Jong Un as a challenge.
Graham told CBN News that he has hope that the government will begin to view believers differently.
“I want the communist government to know that Christians are not their enemies,” he said. “They have the potential of being the very best citizens in the country because God commands all of us to pray for those that are in authority.”
Open Doors estimates that the North Korean government is holding at least 50,000 Christians in prison camps. It has ranked North Korea as the #1 most dangerous place to be a Christian on its World Watch List for the last 17 years.