MARVELLA BAYH, 46, wife of U. S. Senator Birch Bayh, whose professed faith and tireless campaign against cancer provided encouragement to many American women; she had selected Christian rebirth as the theme for her memorial service, which was attended by political and religious leaders, including Oral Roberts; April 24, in Bethesda, Maryland, after an eight-year battle with cancer.

NORMAN S. MARSHALL, 86; commissioned as an officer in the Salvation Army at age 22, he rose within its ranks to become the denomination’s national leader in the United States, from 1957 to 1963; April 26, in Asbury Park, New Jersey, after a long illness.

FRED RENICH, 62, former director of Missionary Internship, one-time missionary to China, and a leader of family workshops; May 8, in Montrose, Pennsylvania.

O. Eugene Pickett was named president of the Unitarian Universalist Association to fill the unexpired term of Paul Carnes, who died of cancer in March. For twelve years, from 1962 to 1974, Pickett was pastor of the denomination’s largest congregation, a 1,000-member church in Atlanta.

Carl E. Armerding, 43, has been named principal (chief executive) of Regent College in Vancouver, British Columbia. A faculty member since the school’s inception in 1969, and a CHRISTIANITY TODAY editor at large, Armerding succeeds James M. Houston, who has been appointed chancellor.

Abe C. Van Der Puy next month becomes the new “Voice of Missions” for the weekly missionary radio program of “Back to the Bible” broadcast. Van Der Puy, who will continue as president of World Radio Missionary Fellowship (which operates station HCJB), replaces the retiring “Voice of Missions” for twenty-eight years, G. Christian Weiss.

Agostino Casaroli, 64, Italian archbishop who specializes in Eastern Europe study, was selected by Pope John Paul II as Acting Secretary of State. Observers link Casaroli’s appointment to efforts of the Roman Catholic Church and its Polish Pope to improve conditions for Catholics living within Communist systems.

When Mozambique President Samora Machel announced an all-out confrontation between his government and the nation’s churches on May 1, political observers in this southern African state were not surprised. Ever since Machel’s Frelimo guerrilla movement formally took control of the government from Portuguese colonials on June 25, 1975, ties between this avowedly Marxist administration and the churches have ranged from bad to disastrous.

Now, following Machel’s address in the capital of Maputo, church and state relations are worse than ever. Machel scathingly denounced the Christian churches in his country, “in particular the Catholic church,” dubbing some of its bishops as “agents of imperialism.” The “enemy,” he charged, was trying to subvert the ongoing revolution in Mozambique.

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The churches’ insistence on proseletizing and their alleged efforts to turn people against socialism also were cited by the mission-educated leader as reasons for the church and state showdown.

It is ironic that Catholics have been singled out for attack: many in the Catholic hierarchy had, in varying degrees, backed the Frelimo independence fight. Priests in Mozambique openly embraced the Frelimo cause, while the late Pope Paul VI once welcomed a senior group of the movement’s leaders—including Frelimo vice-president Marcelino dos Santos—to a meeting in Rome.

But the church won little sympathy or recognition from the Machel government after independence in mid-1975. Church schools and mission hospitals were closed, and the approximately 1.5 million Catholics and 500,000 other Christians became subject to increasing government harassment.

Government hostilities against the church subsided after the initial spate of attacks following independence. But late last year Frelimo-Catholic ties in particular turned sour when the Vatican representative in Maputo, who had been attending a clergymen’s meeting in Lichinga, was detained for three days. Last December the Catholic leadership sent Machel a list of criticisms: they demanded an end to “arbitrary detentions,” described nationalization programs as a “source of dissatisfaction,” and rejected the policy of sending students to Cuba “without their parents knowing it.”

Machel responded on both ideological and practical fronts. The government newspaper Noticias ran a series of articles attacking Catholics in particular for their alleged past collaboration with the Portuguese colonialists. In various parts of the country, churches were closed, religious services were banned, and missions activities were restricted.

The situation deteriorated to the extent that Pope John Paul II asked Catholics in late March to pray for the Mozambique church. (Machel’s May Day speech also forbade persons under age eighteen to be involved with the churches and curbed all building of churches.)

Observers cite several reasons for Machel’s hostility towards the churches. A former Maputo resident, who now writes about Mozambique affairs, says that Machel’s staunch Marxism places him in bitter opposition to the church—even though Machel, like many in the Frelimo leadership, received his education in mission schools. The nation’s one million Muslims also have suffered; the government has closed all mosques and has curtailed the Muslims’ normal religious activities.

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But political factors also may influence Machel, say Mozambique watchers. It is argued that recent successes by anti-Frelimo guerrilla groups have forced Machel to seek a scapegoat for his domestic troubles. The chief resistance group, Resistencia Nacional Mocambicana, destroyed a fuel depot at the port of Beira in March, causing much embarassment for Machel. Popular unrest over food and commodity shortages in a faltering economy, as well as opposition to the government policy of collectivism, are given as other possible reasons for the president’s virulence towards the church.

A Temperate Regime Heartens the Church

White-ruled Rhodesia becomes black-ruled Zimbabwe-Rhodesia with white participation. Salisbury journalist Pius Wakatama provides an African Christian perspective on the turmoil behind the transition.

Rhodesia came to the attention of the world on November 11, 1965, when its racial supremacist government under the premiership of Ian Smith unilaterally declared the colonial territory independent from Britain. The declaration was aimed at stopping moves by the British towards handing the self-governing colony over to black nationalists.

In an ineffectual attempt to stop the rebellion the British went to the United Nations and asked the world body to institute economic sanctions against the rebellious colony. In response, member nations, including the U. S., severed their economic and diplomatic relations with Rhodesia. Simultaneously black nationalists, who until then were reluctant to use force, resorted to an armed guerrilla war, which is still raging.

In retaliation, the white Rhodesian government imprisoned all leading nationalists, among them Joshua Nkomo (now based in Zambia); and Robert Mugabe (now based in Mozambique). Their organizations—Nkomo’s Zimbabwe African National Peoples Union and Ndabaningi Sithole’s Zimbabwe African National Union—were banned, thus leaving the black population with no political leadership or direction.

After several abortive attempts to reach a settlement with the rebel regime, the British in 1971 finally worked out a formula acceptable to Smith. Called the Smith-Home Proposals, they had been worked out by Smith and Sir Alec Douglas Home, then British Foreign and Commonwealth Secretary.

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A condition put on the agreement by the British, however, was that the constitutional formula would have to be acceptable to the country of Rhodesia as a whole. They therefore proposed establishment of a commission of inquiry headed by Lord Pierce to test public opinion about the proposals.

With all the nationalist leaders behind bars, the African masses had no leadership to advise them on the merits and defects of the proposals for a settlement. Faced with this situation members of the two banned parties, who had previously clashed violently with each other, decided to bury the hatchet to meet the crisis. They believed the British hoped to legalize the Smith regime by making only cosmetic changes.

These men sought for someone to mobilize the people against the Smith-Home agreement. They needed a man who was of national stature: politically astute but with no previous history of political allegiance. The man of the moment needed to be respected and acceptable to members of both banned organizations.

After considering a number of names it was unanimously decided that such a man was fifty-four-year-old, American educated, Abel Tendekai Muzorewa, leader of the 55,000-member United Methodist Church. When approached and called upon to lead the people, the bishop did not immediately reply, but spent three weeks in meditation and prayer. After this period, he accepted the call to lead the hurriedly formed umbrella organization, called the African National Council.

It was thus that the diminutive Methodist prelate was reluctantly thrust upon the Rhodesian political stage. After accepting the challenge, he immediately set about to organize and mobilize the people to reject the proposals worked out in the Smith-Home proposal.

The ANC was not completely alone in this task, for the Christian Council of Rhodesia had published a pamphlet showing some of the shortcomings of the proposals. This did not set a precedent, because Rhodesian black and white Christians had become well known for protesting against the unjust and racist laws of successive governments.

The government had already banned Bishop Muzorewa from African reservations for fear he would incite the people against the government. He and five other church leaders had strongly and publicly renounced the Land Tenure Act that divided the country into white and black areas. In his sermons he often spoke out against government injustices.

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When the ANC was formed it was jokingly referred to as the “ecclesiastical party” because of the many church lead-party” because of the many church leaders and pastors in its hierarchy. The executive alone was composed of not less than six Christian ministers.

When the Pierce Commission came to Rhodesia to test black opinion they were faced with a massive rejection of the proposals, even in the most primitive and remote areas. The British government had to withdraw.

As the guerrilla war escalated and took a severe toll on both blacks and whites, the need for some form of accommodation became urgent. On March 3, 1978, Muzorewa, representing the United African National Council, Smith representing the white Zimbabwe United Peoples Organization, and Ndabaningi Sithole representing the internal faction of ZANU, worked out constitutional proposals acceptable to each of them as a basis for a settlement.

Despite opposition from the international community and the externally-based nationalists, one-man one-vote elections were held under the new agreement. Despite the war situation, 65 percent of the voting population turned out to vote. Muzorewa emerged the victor, (see May 25 issue, page 51), charged with leading the first black government of Zimbabwe-Rhodesia, the country’s new name according to the March 3 agreement.

In 1973 Muzorewa was awarded the United Nations Peace Prize. Friends and foes alike respect him for his humility and unquestioned integrity. On several occasions he has attributed his source of strength to prayer. Each morning before the day’s business he spends half an hour in prayer and meditation.

In his book, Rise Up and Walk, Muzorewa recounts the events leading to his becoming a Christian. He says, “At one revival meeting Rev. Josia Chimbadzwa preached a stirring sermon and invited those who wished to meet Christ in a new way to come forward. Although I had been brought up in a devout Christian home, I made that morning my own commitment to follow Christ as my Savior.… I realized that I was a sinner, but that God loves me and forgives me.”

As prime minister, Bishop Muzorewa is faced with a formidable task. In an interview after the results of the elections were announced he said that the issues before him are “to effect a cease-fire, to create peace, securing the lifting of sanctions and gaining international recognition.”

Mission Improbable

Effecting a cease-fire will not be an easy task. The two externally-based and Communist-backed black leaders refused to participate in or to recognize the elections. Both Nkomo and Mugabe have vowed to continue fighting and win Zimbabwe “through the barrel of the gun.” They accuse Muzorewa and those participating in forming the new black government of being puppets and traitors. They criticize the provision in the new constitution for twenty-eight parliamentary seats reserved for whites, and entrenched clauses that protect the rights of minorities. They have several hundred guerrillas fighting the security forces. As in any conflict of this kind, civilians suffer the heaviest casualties. An average of twenty people die every day.

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Since the agreement, however, there have been encouraging signs. The bishop has successfully persuaded some guerrillas to lay down their arms and to participate in the democratic process now established. Those who have come back tell of “killer squads” of guerrillas sent to kill those who decide to heed Muzorewa’s call for total amnesty.

The bishop, however, stresses that the majority rule program needs to be implemented quickly so that more guerrillas can see that what they are fighting for has in fact been achieved.

His strategy is to reach the “boys” who are actually fighting, the majority of whom have no personal political ambitions. Persuading Nkomo and Mugabe to come home is next to impossible for two reasons. Both Nkomo and Mugabe will not serve under a government which they, themselves, do not lead. This is demonstrated by the fact that the front line states harboring their guerrillas have totally failed to forge unity between the two. Their joint name of Patriotic Front is a unity on paper only. In fact, their two 1 “armies” have been known to fight each other within Rhodesia. A recent effort by the Organization of African Unity and the front line states to unify the two groups ended in total failure because neither of them is willing to serve under the other.

The second reason is that the guerrillas are largely armed and funded by Communist countries who seem now to control them. One can’t imagine either Russia or China allowing their proteges to accept a compromise which does not give them dominance and which will leave the mineral-rich country in the western sphere of influence.

A majority in the U.S. Congress is pressing for the lifting of sanctions. Many members of Congress see it as ludicrous that their government refuses to recognize the one-man one-vote elections, observed and deemed to be fair by American observers, while it recognizes one-man dictatorships elsewhere in Africa.

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The new Tory government in Britain has made it clear that it would treat the government of the new Zimbabwe-Rhodesia sympathetically. The UANC believes that a number of small countries will recognize the new government soon and that others will follow suit.

Recognition by the UN is not expected any time soon because of the dominance of the OAU and the Communist influence in that body. The OAU officially recognizes only the Patriotic Front of Nkomo and Mugabe as truly representing the people of Zimbabwe. The attitude of those in the new government is, “So what. We can survive as a nation without the OAU or the UN.”

Most Christian leaders are happy with the turn of events. In an interview with this writer, the Rhodesia field chairman of TEAM (The Evangelical Alliance Mission), Wilfred Strom, expressed his satisfaction. Strom has been a missionary in Rhodesia for twenty-five years. He said, “These new black leaders are pragmatic and have the interest of the people at heart. They will not make needless and ruthless changes. One is amazed with the moderation of Bishop Muzorewa’s men. After the abuse they have suffered at the hands of the whites they would be justified if they were bitter, but they are not. These are men who acknowledge God. Under them many doors will be opened for evangelism.

“I feel there are good prospects for the unhindered growth of the church. However, many things will have to change in our own approach. We will see more leadership being exercised by Africans both in the churches and missions.”

Asked whether mission stations closed by the war will be opened, Strom said that this was unlikely, as the mission would adopt a different strategy. He sees the mission station approach as outdated. Since the beginning of the war TEAM has had to close eight mission stations, including a hospital, several clinics, and schools. One high school was closed after guerrillas murdered the African church pastor and the school boarding master.

A leading black evangelical leader, Phineas Dube, associate director of Scripture Union, hailed the bishop’s victory as a good thing. He said, “The fact that our political leader is a born-again man who seeks to do God’s will makes a big difference. Of course, all will not be smooth sailing. There are still the negotiations with the British and the external leaders. The war will still go on for a while but we are in a better position now than we have ever been.”

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South African Assembly
Helping Unthinkable Relationships Happen?

SACLA sounds like just another acronym, but it represents anything but the routine. The South African Christian Leadership Assembly, to be held in Pretoria, July 5–15, is an event unprecedented in the country’s history—and one that could play a key role in helping to shape South Africa’s future.

This is the view of some of South Africa’s leading Christians, such as evangelist Michael Cassidy. SACLA could bring together as many as 10,000 Christians, from a wide range of racial, linguistic, cultural, and denominational backgrounds; Cassidy, 42, says the event will “provide an unprecedented opportunity for almost unthinkable relationships to be established, out of which almost anything could come—and it may turn the tide of history in these parts.”

Besides its size, the assembly is especially significant because of the readiness of Christians from all parts of South Africa’s theological and ecclesiastical spectrum to give SACLA their support. Five main constituencies of the South African Church will be represented:

• the Afrikaans churches;

• the evangelicals (mainly English-speaking);

• the mainline denominations, many with large black memberships, linked to the South Africa Council of Churches;

• the Interdenominational African Ministers Association of South Africa; and

• the Pentecostal churches and the Renewal movement.

SACLA will consist of a number of parallel conferences that cater to specific groups of Christians. The first of these will draw together leaders from business, the professions, politics, and other such fields. The other four conferences are for leaders in local churches (ministers and up to ten delegates from the congregations), college ministries, high school groups, and church youth programs. While there will be some overlap in the sessions of the five groups, delegates will spend most of their time in separate “conferences” exploring the assembly theme: “To discover together what it means to be faithful and effective witnesses to Jesus as Lord in South Africa today.”

Although most plenary sessions will be led by South Africans, there will also be addresses by several foreign speakers, including Bolivia’s Bruno Frigoli, Orlando Costas from Costa Rica, Festo Kivengere from Uganda, Cecil Kerr from Northern Ireland, and Ron Sider from the U.S.

SACLA grew from the experience of eighty South Africans who attended the Pan African Christian Leadership Assembly (PACLA) in Nairobi, Kenya, in December 1976. Their experience of reconciliation at this meeting spurred them toward initiating a similar event back home. Cassidy describes SACLA as “a God-given vehicle through which South African Christians of all persuasions, races and backgrounds can come together not only to find each other but to discover in fellowship what it means to be faithful witnesses to our Lord in South Africa in these tumultuous times.”

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David Bosch, a University of South Africa theologian, notes that SACLA will not solve in ten days what the church has failed to solve in scores of years. But he and the others involved in organizing SACLA see the assembly as a catalyst through which God can work.


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