The news media in Colombia was critical of evangelicals, in addition to religious cults, in the wake of the People’s Temple killings in Guyana, say missionary sources there. Wycliffe Bible Translators reportedly bought a full-page ad in a leading Bogotá daily newspaper to explain themselves. Matters have calmed somewhat, but sources say the Colombian government is less willing to let new missionaries enter the country, especially those planning to work with Indians.

Through their Washington embassy, Soviet officials are distributing press releases that extol the health of churches in Russia. The articles give glowing accounts of growth within Russian Orthodox and Baptist church bodies. Lillian Block, the managing editor of Religious News Service, said issuance of the articles is a “very recent development.… We never got [the articles] before.…” She said the releases “would have you believe that religion is thriving in the Soviet Union. I throw them in the wastebasket.”

Communist authorities in Poland censored parts of Pope John Paul II’s Christmas message to his home diocese in Cracow—cutting out references to a martyred eighteenth-century patron, St. Stanislaus, reportedly because he symbolized Polish nationalism. The entire message was read in many Catholic churches there, however. In speeches last month, the Pope increasingly attacked Marxist regimes that take away religious freedoms.

An Israeli architect, Tsvi Lissar, designed plans for a $2 million interfaith house of worship for Muslims, Christians, and Jews that would stand atop Mt. Sinai. He reportedly submitted his idea to Egyptian president Anwar Sadat, who had expressed interest in the idea, and whose country would gain the property under the Camp David accords.

Kenya president Daniel Arap Moi recently released from jail the country’s twenty-five political prisoners, making Kenya—according to some press accounts—the only African nation without such prisoners. The All African Council of Churches commended the action by Moi, a professing Christian who assumed power last fall (October 6, 1978, issue, page 51).

The churches of Britain and Wales launched a Nationwide Initiative in Evangelism (NIE) on January 22 that may extend for two years. This attempt to stimulate effective evangelism at the local church level is backed by the Church of England and member denominations in the British Council of Churches and the Evangelical Alliance. The Roman Catholics are also officially represented. One observer calls the NIE “the most significant ecumenical venture in Britain since the Reformation.”

The Indonesian minister of religion at a recent mass rally of Christians in the Jakarta Sports Palace said that his decrees restricting evangelistic methods (see the November 3, issue, page 70) were not intended to keep Christians from evangelizing. The nationally televised speech of the Muslim official was hailed by Christians, who earlier had protested that his decrees contradicted the guarantee of religious freedom in the Indonesian constitution.

Liberia marked its twenty-fifth year of operation last month. ELWA, the first missionary broadcasting station in Africa, is operated by the Sudan Interior Mission. The station now broadcasts in forty-five languages in northern and central Africa for forty-three transmission hours a day. An anniversary celebration at the end of last month featured a Liberian-written historical drama.


A. C. FORREST, 62, for twenty-three years the editor of the United Church Observer, the monthly magazine of Canada’s largest Protestant denomination, the United Church of Canada; on December 27, in his Toronto home, of a heart attack.
PAUL B. PETERSON, 83, co-founder and president since 1931 of the Eastern European Mission, editor of the mission’s Gospel Call magazine; on December 8, in Pasadena, California, of a heart attack.

Have something to add about this? See something we missed? Share your feedback here.

Our digital archives are a work in progress. Let us know if corrections need to be made.