It isn’t easy to bring Christian compassion to Viet Nam. The war—which causes most of the need for compassion—is not the only problem. A sad case in point is the six-month battle in which refugees in Bien Hoa, led by a Catholic priest, have stopped World Vision’s attempts to build an orphanage for 2,000 children on government-granted land. A violent scene at the site shortly before Easter was filmed for national broadcast in the United States by NBC television.
In the melee, World Vision staffer John Weliczko had his arm fractured. One member of the knife-wielding mob crowded World Vision President Bob Pierce against a wall and said, “If you come back I’ll kill you.” Two NBC cameras were smashed, and cameramen were roughed up.
Pierce says “our problem at Children’s City really is a big Vietnamese problem in microcosm”—how to “overcome the bitterness, tensions, and friction built up during thirty years of war.” He said his evangelical Protestant welfare group had never before had such trouble with Roman Catholics.
At latest count, more than 1.6 million are homeless in South Viet Nam. Despite great interest, Protestant aid efforts budgeted for all of 1967 pale before the cost of even a single B-52. World Vision plans to spend $750,000; Viet Nam Christian Service, $481,750; and the National Association of Evangelicals World Relief Commission, $38,000.
The victims of Viet Nam are so important in the policy debate that they often seem to be publicity pawns rather than human beings. Anti-war propaganda makes much of civilians killed by U. S. soldiers. On the other hand, U. S. officials pointed out the week before Easter that so far this year the Communist Viet Cong have murdered thirty-three village chiefs, thirty-one government aid ...1
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