That five year-old famine-drought across sub-Sahara Africa is getting worse. It is now spreading into formerly unaffected areas in Ethiopia and Kenya and further into the six other victim nations of the Sahel or sub-Sahara (see September 14, 1973, issue, page 42), according to evangelical relief officials.

Last fall’s hopes that a good rainfall might alleviate conditions in the Sahel region were dashed. Only Ethiopia, Senegal, and southern Mali received enough rain to water parched crops and give temporary relief. “For the rest of the area—nothing,” said George Doud, administrative vice-president of the World Relief Commission of the National Association of Evangelicals, who spent several weeks in the stricken areas.

Much of the current concern is centering on Ethiopia. Although widespread famine in the nation’s northern provinces was reported in the Western press last year, only the recent mutiny by the Ethiopian army and navy forced an admission from the government that the situation is critical. Indeed, there are already reports—amid charges and counter-charges of administration corruption by Ethiopian officials—that between 50,000 and 100,000 died of hunger and related diseases in the northern areas alone. The actual number may never be known, said Kerry Lovering of the Sudan Interior Mission (SIM).

The few rains that did come provided a little relief, said Lovering, and “right now there’s a lull, a temporary respite. Nevertheless we anticipate a far worse situation this year than in 1973.” An Ethiopian government survey team indicated the drought is threatening the southern provinces of the nation—a possibility described as calamitous by relief officials. “The south is Ethiopia’s breadbasket. That’s where most of the population is. That’s where the land is most fertile,” commented Lovering. All indications are, he added, that the drought may be even worse in the south if it hits there. For Christians, that would add extra concern, for most of the country’s Christians live in the south and there are more than 600 churches there.

Meanwhile SIM (known in Ethiopia as the Society of International Missions) continues northern relief operations and is finding a new openness to the Gospel in response to the missionaries’ efforts. It is, said Lovering, an “unparalleled” experience in a particularly difficult field. The first church opened recently with twenty-seven baptized members and 100 new converts. Two Bible schools—one to train church leaders, the other for new converts—also were opened, the first such facilities in the north.

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Experienced in Ethiopian needs—it has been there since 1927—SIM is the distributing channel for most famine-relief efforts from other evangelical agencies. Medical Assistance Programs (MAP) of Wheaton, Illinois, has already shipped more than 300 tons of food and medicine (the foods are nutritional supplements; the medicines are supplies ordered by doctors on the field and paid for with MAP funds) and is sending out a volunteer famine-relief team of fifteen Seattle Pacific College students and one faculty advisor to assist missionaries. The students will work on construction and well-digging; one, a registered nurse, is training others in primary medical procedures such as inoculations. Total cost of the team project is $28,000—half raised by the students and $14,000 provided on a matching-grant basis by an unnamed publicity-shy foundation.

Qualified volunteers, said Lovering, must be willing to work anywhere, including non-famine areas. “Many want to work in the famine zone, but could be used better in relieving missionaries for work in drought areas,” he explained. “The missionaries are familiar with language, culture, and needs. The volunteers probably aren’t.” Meanwhile young Ethiopian Christians are pitching in to assist their northern compatriots, leaving school or taking vacations in order to help.

The World Relief Commission—which has already spent $45,000 on sub-Sahara relief and budgeted $100,000 more for 1974—is providing cash to national churches and missionaries for purchase of local foods. (As in most other nations, the price of that food available in the Sahel has skyrocketed because of inflation.) The WRC is also seeking Ethiopian approval for its relief supplies to enter the country duty-free. (Under American law, volunteer relief agencies qualify for U. S. ocean freight subsidies if the goods enter host countries duty-free.) Once approval is granted, said Doud, three fully-equipped, 200-bed, mobile hospitals will be moved in. Other equipment en route or already in Ethiopia includes a helicopter-carried well-digging rig provided by a Swiss Christian pilot and a truck-carried rig supplied by the Evangelical Alliance Relief Fund of Great Britain. All are operated by SIM.

Also assisting SIM’s Ethiopian efforts is the California-based Food For the Hungry (FFH). The organization’s president, Larry Ward, said much will depend on how much rain falls in March and April. Besides southern Ethiopia, new drought pressure points include northern Kenya on the east and northern Nigeria on the west, said Ward; sparse rain could catapult those areas into crisis. FFH has 692,000 pounds of food and medicine in varying stages of shipment—most of it earmarked for Sahel Africa. “Kenya and Ethiopia are as bad as anything I saw in the west,” said Ward, who is just back from a two-week inspection of the area. “The situation in Africa right now is utterly hopeless.”

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Food For the Hungry also joined with World Gospel Crusades (WGC) of California and Kings Garden, a Seattle-based broadcast and relief organization, in providing food, medicine, and outreach materials. (WGC head Mervin Russell says his group will provide cassette tape players and gospel tapes to help workers combine outreach with their relief efforts among illiterate and semi-literate tribespeople.) Ward estimates his organization will ship more than one million tons of food to the stricken African countries this year, at a cost of more than $150,000.

Also aiding relief efforts is World Vision. The agency’s Monrovia, California, headquarters has sent more than $150,000 to SIM, and its Canadian wing has sent more than $32,000. More is forthcoming, say spokesmen. Norwegian Lutherans were feeding more than 170,000 in southern Ethiopia with food bought on the open market. However, Church World Service, the relief arm of the National Council of Churches, has taken a wait-and-see position until “guaranteed channels” can be set up and the political situation stabilizes.

Meanwhile, U. S. government aid efforts for Sahel Africa were blasted in a privately funded study of the drought situation. The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace in Washington, D. C., said its study found a pattern of “neglect and inertia” in efforts by the U. S. Agency for International Development (AID) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations. Both were “haunted by rudimentary failures to heed early warnings, to plan in advance, and to monitor and coordinate the rescue efforts,” the study charged. It reported there were more than 100,000 deaths in the sub-Sahara region in 1973 alone. The study made no mention of private, voluntary relief organizations (through which much government aid is channeled).

Ironically, a burst of torrential rains in Ethiopia’s Wallo region caused floods, leaving thousands homeless and ruining cotton and scant food crops.

In another development, to quell increasing restlessness, Ethiopian emperor Haile Selassie ordered thousands of peasants to return to the land they sold to nobles at low prices in the midst of the drought crisis. The nobles were ordered to vacate the land, and the peasants were given three years to repay the purchase price. For the most part, however, the peasants either have not tried to go back or have encountered stiff opposition from the new owners. Tens of thousands are still huddled in relief centers. In the meantime, government relief structures are slowly taking shape in efforts to feed several million of the nation’s 24 million inhabitants and to resettle thousands of the displaced peasants.

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Long-term relief efforts include plans for building up cattle stock in the agriculture-based economies. But until those plans are fruitful, the famine will continue. And that, say officials, may mean years of death and privation in Africa—and years of appeals for money in North America.

Coming: World Famine?

What with the Middle East powder keg and the drought-famine crisis in Africa (see preceding story) Bible prophecy buffs are having a field day. Increasingly, doomsday talk is creeping into the headlines.

A front-page story in the National Observer, for instance, raised the specter of worldwide famine. American food surpluses simply no longer exist, according to food specialists quoted in the story, and land the government once paid farmers to keep idle is already back in production. Therefore needy nations can no longer count on the United States to help feed them. (Indeed, church relief agencies that traditionally have relied on U. S. government surplus food already feel the pinch.)

Gloom about the future hung heavy over the recent meetings of the American Association for the Advancement of Science in San Francisco, where some 4,000 scientists heard climatologists agree that planet Earth is in for some big changes in weather patterns that may play havoc with agriculture. There were calls for a global granary and other kinds of sustenance insurance for the world. Others scoffed, saying the problem is instead the population explosion: within decades the world will simply be too populous to feed itself.

Prominent weather scientist Walter O. Roberts in a U. S. News and World Report interview was more specifically ominous. He is looking for a drought to strike North America, probably this year or next, and to last from three to eight years, affecting a 600- to 800-mile-wide stretch east of the Rockies from Mexico into the Canadian prairie provinces. The area includes a large portion of the continental breadbasket.

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Relatedly, there are warnings of a fertilizer shortage. Most chemical fertilizers are made of oil and natural gas byproducts. As the energy crunch worsens, so will the supply of such fertilizers, U. S. Senate agriculture subcommittee members were warned in recent hearings. This in turn would set off a reaction resulting in shortages of corn, meat, milk, and eggs, observed Iowa senator Richard Clark.

There are other pressures already at work. For example, speculation and inflation are forcing up prices worldwide, making it harder for poor nations to feed—and govern—their own.

In all of this the Mormons may be on the right track. At last year’s big convention in Salt Lake City the Latter-day Saints were exhorted as they had been for years to set aside an emergency store of food to last at least a year.

Better make that a seven-year supply, say the prophecy people, with some “amens” from the science pew.

‘Urbana’ On The Dunes

More than 400 young people, most of them students from fifteen European Bible schools and seminaries in at least seven countries, attended last month’s annual European Student Missionary Association (ESMA) convention. It was held at a conference center on the dunes of the North Sea coast near Ostend, Belgium. Also on hand were representatives of about two dozen independent mission societies and parachurch movements.

The three-day program, pegged to the theme “I Send—Who Goes?,” was packed with talks on the contemporary Christian scene, Bible-study sessions, consultations with mission representatives, and other conference features. Topics dealt with included Islam (a skit chided missionaries who don’t take time to learn the culture and thinking of the Muslim world), the occult (it’s spreading worldwide), and discipleship evangelism. A Belgian missionary laid the challenge of Europe on the students: he compared Zaire, the former Belgian colony in Africa which has a population of 20 million, of whom 14 per cent are Protestants, with Belgium, which has a population of 9.5 million but a Protestant community of only 5 per cent.

Youth-oriented agencies such as Operation Mobilization, Campus Crusade for Christ, and Teen Challenge seemed to attract the most interest. The so-called underground ministries to Eastern Europe also got a lot of attention. Evangelism-in-Depth’s Bill Aldin offered an explanation: “Unlike some of the older missions, these mission societies do not have to be ‘explained’ to young people; their ministry is very evident.”

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A large number of students stood in response to a call for those wishing to commit themselves to full-time church-related vocations. Raising financial support, however, is difficult for those who want to enlist. Few European Christians support independent evangelical missions. Some volunteers spend years drumming up enough support.

Nevertheless, spirits were high as the conference ended on a positive note. ESMA official Eric Gay announced plans for a “European Urbana” missions conference to be held during Christmas week next year. With an expected attendance of at least 4,000 and cooperation already pledged by the European directors of the major Christian youth organizations, it may prove to be the biggest interdenominational youth missions assembly in Europe’s history. Two regional ESMA conferences will precede it next March.

ESMA was founded in 1954 at the European Bible Institute near Paris, a school run by the U. S.-based Greater Europe Mission. Modeled after its U. S. counterpart (the Foreign Missions Fellowship), ESMA is autonomous and led entirely by European students.



Pastor George Bell’s Oakwood Baptist Church in Toronto believes in going the second mile—and further. Even to the point of providing free taxi rides to and from church services for people in the city who can’t get to church because they lack transportation. The church has budgeted $240 a month since December for cabs, but fares have been less than that so far—representing a “very disappointing” response, says Bell. True, a few church regulars trace their first visit to the free taxi service, and average Sunday attendance has increased from 150 to 250 (though not because of the taxi service). The people who come “don’t want to be a burden on the church,” Bell explains. As for the others, it seems that some people just won’t be moved for—or by—anything.

Religion In Transit

Oral Roberts University basketball coach Ken Trickey, a former vice president of the school, was arrested for drunk driving before dawn of the day his team faced Kansas for the NCAA Midwest regional basketball championship (ORU lost 93–90 in overtime). He suspended himself but ORU president Oral Roberts reinstated him “as an act of compassion.” Trickey says he is innocent and will fight the charge.

The 60-member Savannah United Methodist Church of Cleveland, Tennessee, pastored by a second-year seminarian, tried and expelled a layman under a seldom-used UMC provision for lay trials. Byron Donahue, described as a new convert, was found guilty of causing disorder in the congregation by verbally assailing members with Scripture out of context.

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Bob Jones University’s attempts to get the Internal Revenue Service to reinstate its tax-exempt status will be ruled on by the U. S. Supreme Court in June, predicted a BJU spokesman. Meanwhile, BJU is entering the textbook publishing field with texts aimed at an estimated 3,000 Christian elementary and secondary schools.

Teacher Max W. Lynch was fired by the Indiana State University Laboratory School in Terre Haute for ignoring requests to stop reading the Bible to his junior-high mathematics pupils.

Editor John Hurt of the Baptist Standard in Dallas editorially urged fellow Southern Baptists to boycott Texas International Airlines because TIA’s magazine ran a story that favored legalized gambling in the state and knocked religious opposition. TIA officials were apologetic, saying they take no stands on issues and explaining that the magazine is a non-TIA publication with a custom cover for TIA use.

Murder for God’s sake: A Mt. Clemens, Michigan, man was sentenced to life imprisonment after beating his wife to death with a baseball bat and severely injuring two of his five children. He testified he decided to kill his family “to save them from Satan” after he read the Bible for several hours. A Fayette, Mississippi, man who shot and killed his wife and six relatives told police a voice he thought was the Lord’s ordered him to kill them.

The director of Miami’s Jackson Memorial Hospital crisis intervention center, Dr. Hardat Sukhdeo, says 600 to 700 patients are treated there every month to have “evil spirits driven out of them.” It’s not because of The Exorcist, he says. Many are Latins who have long believed in demon possession. Sukhdeo, whose diagnosis is hysteria, treats them with tranquilizers.

There’s a new lobby in Washington: the Religious Committee for Integrity in Government, billed as a non-partisan interfaith committee of Washington-based religious staff persons. It is led by United Presbyterian Josiah Beeman, former aide of liberal democrat congressman Philip Burton of San Francisco.

The Tucson, Arizona, Ecumenical Council may drop its membership clause requiring member groups to “accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Saviour” in order to include Jews and other non-Christian faiths.


HARRIS KARTEROULIS, 74, prominent lay leader in the Free Evangelical Churches in Greece and formerly a high government official; in Athens, after a long illness.

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WENTWORTH ARTHUR MATTHEW, 82, founder and head rabbi of the largest and only group of black Jews recognized by Orthodox Judaism, the Commandment Keeper Ethiopian Hebrew Congregation in Harlem, and founder of New York’s Hebrew Rabbinical College; in New York.

Sociologist Andrew Greeley says a nationwide survey shows that more than a third of American adults have undergone a powerful supernatural experience. About 34 per cent of those surveyed reported having had contact with the dead, he added.

The youngest Jewish rabbi in the world is thought to be 16-year-old David Dore of Harlem, a black youth carrying on the Falasha tradition of his grandfather who ordained him last year. The Falashas have their roots in Ethiopia and are recognized as legitimate Jews by world Judaism.

The appointment of Rabbi Morton M. Kanter of Detroit as deputy commissioner of Youth Development in the U. S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare is believed to be the first time an active Jewish rabbi has been named to such a federal post.

Jewish leaders in New York and Philadelphia are using telephone hotlines and special broadcast messages to combat missionary efforts and to spread the message of Judaism.

Acting in accord with a denominational resolution passed earlier, the United Church of Canada’s Department of Church in Society filed a brief with government officials calling for a guaranteed annual income for all Canadians. It would replace old-age assistance and burgeoning welfare plans.

The Federal Communications Commission rejected a petition of the American Board of Missions to the Jews asking for a public hearing on the license renewal of WOR-TV in New York. The station had canceled a telecast of an ABMJ evangelistic film on the Passover last year. “A licensee does not have to present programming which it believes will not serve the public interest,” ruled he FCC.

The forty-third White House religious service was addressed on St. Patrick’s Day by writer-preacher Norman Vincent Peale, his fourth White House service. He preached to President Nixon and 250 invited guests (including Irish ambassador John G. Molloy) on love.

On with the trial: Months ago, lawyer Vincent LaRocca who is also a Catholic priest was instructed by a New York criminal court judge to remove his clerical collar because it might prejudice the jury in favor of his client, a mother on welfare accused of attacking a teacher. LaRocca appealed, and the trial was recessed. A state supreme court ruling last month said he can wear the collar.

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That spat between Rabbi Irving J. Block and Presbyterian clergyman William Glenesk over the Arab-Israeli war ended with Block and his 600 Brotherhood Synagogue members moving out of the Greenwich Village building they shared with Glenesk and his 125-member Village Presbyterian congregation in New York City.

Federal judge James F. Battin decreed that Kirby Hensley’s Universal Life Church, which sells honorary doctor of divinity degrees by mail from Hensley’s Modesto, California, home, is entitled to federal tax exemption (including refunds of $10,000 and $1,200 interest). Battin said ULC meets tax-exempt requirements as an organized church, pointing out that courts and the government must not consider the “merits or fallacies of a religion.” Hensley has reportedly issued clergy credentials to 3 million persons and some 10,000 honorary doctorates (at $20 each).

The Virginia Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision denying ministers of the anybody-can-be-ordained Universal Life Church authority to perform marriages in the state.


Assemblies of God executive head Thomas Zimmerman was invited to speak at the main Protestant churches in Leningrad on Good Friday and Moscow on Easter Sunday. The churches, Baptist in name, are union congregations of Baptists, Mennonites, Evangelical Christians, and Pentecostals.

Episcopal clergyman Earl A. Neil of Oakland, California, “spiritual advisor” to the Black Panther Party, has been named to the staff of the Episcopal Church’s agency that makes grants to black community groups.

William E. Currie of Hammond, Indiana, pastor of an independent church and teacher at Moody Bible Institute, was selected as general director of the 86-year-old American Messianic Fellowship mission agency.

Anglican vicar David Bubbers is the new general secretary of the Church Pastoral-Aid Society, a 138-year-old home mission society—England’s oldest.

Dr. John R. Sperry, 49, rector of Yellowknife in Canada’s Northwest Territories, has been elected Anglican Bishop of the Arctic, a 2.7-million-square-mile diocese—largest in the world. The third in history to hold the post, Sperry is fluently bilingual, having translated the Book of Common Prayer, the four Gospels, and the book of Acts into the Copper Eskimo dialect.

World Scene

A bill expected to have serious effects on most Christian bodies in India was introduced into the upper house of parliament. If enacted it will prohibit virtually every person and group in India from receiving contributions of any substance (in excess of $600) except under stringent conditions.

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Nearly 300 Catholic Pentecostal leaders from sixteen countries attended the second annual Latin American charismatic leadership conference in Bogotá, Colombia. They reported rapid growth over the last year. Coordinator Diego Jaramillo, a Colombian priest, said there is increasing emphasis on social concerns. He also estimated that 70 per cent of Latin America’s 10 million Protestants belong to Pentecostal churches, adding that ecumenical contacts with them have been sparse. Meanwhile, Catholic Pentecostals in Auckland, New Zealand, have grown from three to 1,200 in four years, and nationally 2,250 meet weekly in 31 growing groups, according to reports.

Representatives of Ethiopia’s 200,000 Orthodox priests asked for higher pay and more fringe benefits, threatening to strike if their demands were not met. Some priests earn only $1.50 a month. The protests added to the nationwide unrest over economic and political conditions.

The black caucus of the 2.2-million-member Anglican Church of South Africa is pressing for the election of Bishop Alpheus Zulu to succeed the retired Robert Selby Taylor as Archbishop of Cape Town, titular head of the church. The election was set for April 30. Some 75 per cent of South Africa’s Anglicans are black, but whites hold the leadership. Zulu, whose chances are slim, is the only black diocesan bishop.

United Methodists are cooperating with Holt Children’s Services and International Social Service in a program to help nearly 200,000 abandoned children in South Viet Nam. Some are war orphans, some are merely victims of accidents or disease. About 1,000 are children of mixed blood left behind by American G.I.s.

An appellate military court in Seoulhas upheld the convictions of six Protestant clergymen sentenced to long jail terms for criticizing the policies of South Korea’s President Park Chung Hee.

For the first time Baptists in Asia outnumber Baptists in Europe 1.16 million members to 1.15 million. India and Burma have the bulk of Asian Baptists.

The administrative council of the U. S. Catholic Conference, made up of twenty-eight bishops headed by conservative Cardinal John Krol of Philadelphia, approved two statements criticizing Brazil and Chile for violations of human rights and asking the U. S. government to examine closely its aid to them.

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The Anglican Council of South America was recently organized in Bogotá, Colombia, by representatives from a number of countries. Bishop William Flagg of the diocese of Chile, Bolivia, and Peru was elected president.

Controversy is swirling over a shakeup in Lebanon’s civil service system. For decades top posts have been distributed proportionately along sectarian lines to various Christian and Muslim groups. Under a new nonsectarian policy several top posts have been lost by Maronite Christians to Muslims.

The United Methodist bishops of Rhodesia, Liberia, Angola, Zaire, Mozambique, and Sierra Leone advised their denomination that missionaries should be sent to their lands only as “needed and requested” by African churches. Especially needed are short-termers with technical skills, they said, adding that workers who no longer cooperate with national leadership should be recalled.

Some of the most popular songs around Ethiopia these days reportedly are hymns written by members of an “underground” church—Full Gospel Believers Church, several thousand members strong, many of them young people, but outlawed by the government under pressure from the Ethiopian Orthodox Church.

A recent projection of the Evangelical Missions Alliance indicates that within 26 years there will be 800 million Christians in occidental churches—but 1 billion in churches of the Third World.

The Church of England has sold an undisclosed number of “unneeded” and unused churches over the past three years for more than $3.3 million; two of the churches alone accounted for almost $2.7 million. Additionally, about twenty churches annually are added to the domain of the Redundant Churches Fund, which maintains historic and architecturally valuable church buildings (more than fifty are now being cared for at a cost of several hundred thousand dollars).

Southern Baptist leaders in the United States teamed with nationals in a series of evangelistic crusades in Nigeria. Up to 12,000 attended nightly for a week at Ogbomosho; 1,800 decisions for Christ were recorded. At Ilorin, a Muslim center, nearly 500 of the 4,000 listeners professed Christ, including a number of Muslims. At Ibadan there were 3,000 professions of faith.

Spanish censors banned a Southern Baptist mission study book containing a fictionalized account of a young girl’s conversion to Christ.

The Liberated Reformed Churches of the Netherlands (unassociated), a group that separated from the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands in 1947, voted recently to create a denominational structure.

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