In 1995, following the trips to North Korea by Rev. Billy Graham, an organization to field a missionary effort to North Korea was formed in Black Mountain, North Carolina. The foundation of this organization was the retired South Korea missionary community locally, along with their next generation. They had the support of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association. This group incorporated as the Eugene Bell Centennial Foundation, recalling one of the first Southern Presbyterian missionaries to arrive in Korea in 1895. This original organization later took up the operating name of Christian Friends of Korea. CFK has been engaged since then in a mercy ministry of medical work focusing early on tuberculosis in North and South Hwanghae Provinces and the Special City of Kaesong. More recently, CFK has engaged in the treatment of hepatitis.
In 2001, James Linton, who had been working with CFK since 1995, was involved in an effort to bring clean water to a tuberculosis hospital in Sariwon, North Hwanghae. The initial effort was to have UNICEF drill a well onsite to supply water for a pumping, storage and distribution system for the hospital. The well was improperly constructed, did not supply enough water, and eventually collapsed. James, at that time, promised the Medical Director of the hospital that somehow his water needs would be met.
Rather than being disappointed by initial failure, James realized that this was a God-given opportunity to start a new ministry in North Korea. On returning to the United States, while still working with CFK, James began to study the technical and logistical issues with water-well drilling in North Korea. In order to select a correct approach, he undertook training and familiarization with various kinds of drilling equipment. Believing that the Work of Christ should be done by the Bride of Christ (the Church), James worked to connect two presbyteries, the Western Carolina Presbytery of North Carolina, and the Western Soonchun Presbytery, South Chulla Province, South Korea. (This was in the last region that his father worked as a rural evangelist until the time of his death in 1984.)
In 2004, Wellspring began as a joint work of the Presbyteries, and shipped its first drilling machine to South Korea in 2005. Three North Koreans were then brought to Black Mountain for 3 weeks of training. In early 2006, the machine arrived in North Korea, now mounted on a South Korean truck, and drilling was begun. Wellspring’s first drill site was the Dochi Junior and Senior High School in Dochi-Ri, North Hwanghae. The well supplied water for nearly 1000 students, and during the next year, World Vision used Wellspring wells to provide clean water for 7 villages in Dochi and 4 villages in nearby Chilbong-Ri. Wellspring eventually returned to the Sariwon Hospital and drilled a good well with enough water to share with the lower village.
In 2009, Wellspring was incorporated as a 501c3 non-profit. In 2012, Wellspring supplied a 2nd drilling machine, and in 2014, a 3rd.
In co-operation with World Vision, CFK , Global Resource Services and the North Korean National Groundwater Office, Wellspring has drilled well over 300 wells. Wellspring’s 4th machine is ready for shipment, awaiting UN sanctions exemption. A 5th machine is being prepared.
With each drilling machine, Wellspring provides a mounting truck, a support truck, all necessary drilling tooling and necessary repair tools, parts and expendables. Wellspring continually offers training. Labor and fuel are supplied by our North Korean partners.