Thursday, November 04, 2010

Brethren couple begin teaching in North Korea.

Classes started Nov. 1 for Robert and Linda Shank, Church of the Brethren workers who have now begun teaching at a new university in the People’s Democratic Republic of Korea. The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, located at the edge of North Korea’s capital city, has opened and is in operation.

A call to prayer for the Shanks was issued by the Church of the Brethren’s Global Mission Partnerships. "Pray that they get sorted out in the first months, that they have good rapport with their students and colleagues from around the world," said executive director Jay Wittmeyer.

For several months the couple have been at a sister university in China, preparing curriculum, as they and other faculty got ready to teach at the brand new institution.

From Kansas, the Shanks’ road to North Korea has taken them through a succession of agricultural assignments in developing countries: Ethiopia, Liberia, Nepal, and Belize. Robert Shank holds a doctorate in wheat breeding and has conducted rice research. Linda Shank holds a master’s degree in counseling and learning disabilities.

They are working in North Korea under the auspices of Global Mission Partnerships and the church’s Global Food Crisis Fund. Since 1996, the fund has provided grants in North Korea for hunger relief, agricultural development, and farm rehabilitation, and currently supports a cluster of farm cooperatives in order to help North Koreans boost agricultural production and equip their country to avert periodic famine.

At Christmastime the Shanks are expected to visit family in the United States and Dubai, and then continue teaching in North Korea in the winter and spring.

For more about the new Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, read a report on a visit to the school made by Global Mission Partnerships executive Jay Wittmeyer last September, go to Also available is a photo album from the university’s dedication ceremony, go to

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