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Christmas Day prayer sought in North Korea coat project

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Southern Baptists are being urged to raise a special Christmas Day prayer that children’s coats sent to North Korea will bring glory to God and help people in that country sense the love of Jesus Christ.
The “Coats for Christmas” effort for North Korean children needs to be bathed in prayer to be truly effective, organizers of the project said.
“Southern Baptists look for ways to get personally involved in hands-on projects,” said Al Gilbert, special assistant to the president for mobilization with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board. “This is a project that perfectly expresses personalization.
“Now we should stop in our abundance on Christmas morning and take a few moments to pray for the children and their families who get the coats.”
Volunteers began sorting and vacuum-packing coats Dec. 13, preparing them for air shipping to Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital city. Truckloads and carloads of coats were still arriving at board headquarters in Richmond, Va., as a mid-December shipping date approached.
Without the coats, North Korean officials fear children in several North Korean provinces will die in the frigid winter. Flooding in recent years devastated farmland and triggered a catastrophic food shortage, sending the country into an economic tailspin and leaving hundreds of thousands of people teetering at the brink of starvation. Many people, especially children, are now too weak to resist sickness, and relief workers fear for their lives.
The request from North Korea for 180,000 children’s coats was relayed by John LaNoue of Texas Baptist Men, who spent three months traveling throughout North Korea in a project jointly sponsored by the IMB, Amigos International and Texas Baptist Men.
LaNoue reported the request Nov. 21. Faced with logistical hurdles — publicizing the need, finding a way to house and package the coats and sending them into a country virtually closed off from the West — Southern Baptist prayer strategists have been keeping up-to-the-minute prayer requests posted on computer networks.
“In this electronic age, people who pray can truly have an effect at the front lines, while the action is taking place,” said Faith Bryan, the International Board’s associate director in international prayer strategy. “Pray-ers have walked each step of the way with the IMB in this project. Surely God is pleased with such support in behalf of children that might otherwise suffer.”
Leaders in the officially atheistic country asked for 102,000 coats by Dec. 25 and the rest in January.
Those interested in the project should contact Coats for Christmas, 3806 Monument Ave., Richmond, VA 23230, or 1-800-866-3621 (menu item 6) by phone, or [email protected] by e-mail.

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  • Marty Croll