End times Bible prophecy speaks of war and famine. In Cambodia, both have occurred, causing a terrifying apocalypse of death. An entire race of people, the Khmers, literally face their final days.

Civil war and famine, coupled with a Communist regime that hindered relief efforts from the outside, led to a situation in which—according to a United Nations official based in Bangkok, Thailand—“The Khmers are teetering on the brink of being extinguished as a race. They will perish unless something is done right now and fast.”

International relief agencies geared up unprecedented relief efforts last month. A private British agency, Oxfam, the International Red Cross, and the United Nations UNICEF program, organized initial efforts and the first assistance from within Cambodia. The agencies hoped for an initial $110 million for food and medical supplies.

Stan Mooneyham of World Vision flew into Cambodia late last month, and reported back to his California headquarters that “friends have been found.” Mooneyham had conducted evangelistic meetings in Cambodia prior to the 1975 Communist takeover, and his reported contact was remarkable in light of the subsequent deaths and displacement of persons. Cambodia’s tiny, but growing, Christian community has all but vanished from sight since 1975.

Both World Vision and World Relief sent shipments of rice and supplies into Cambodia late last month. Mooneyham and World Vision officials from Australia and New Zealand met with the Samrin government to discuss relief assistance procedures. Reginald Reimer, Southeast Asia director for World Relief, was overseeing continued relief assistance in the crowded Thailand refugee camps.

Ironically, the funds and supplies necessary for alleviating the most immediate needs were available. United Nations officials said money was no problem—that funds were volunteered from 30 countries. The U.S. State Department, for example, pledged an initial $7 million on October 10, and a bill pending in Congress would provide $30 million in disaster relief assistance.

The problem was rather one of getting the food and medical supplies to the people who needed them. The Soviet-backed Heng Samrin regime, the so-called People’s Republic of Kampuchea, at first denied that a famine existed. Then it tried to control distribution of supplies.

The International Red Cross and UNICEF last month sought the Cambodian government’s permission to open administrative offices in the depopulated capital city, Phnom Penh. In many cases, relief agencies weren’t sure if airlifted supplies would reach the needy, or be confiscated by Samrin’s troops, trying to root out the surviving troops of former dictator Pol Pot, deposed in January 1979 by invading Vietnamese troops.

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During the civil war, food became a military weapon on both sides. Crops were destroyed, and rice planting was almost impossible. U.S. satellite photos showed that only 5 percent of the arable rice land was under cultivation. Observers said airlifts of between 600 and 1,000 tons of rice per day would be needed to check the widespread starvation and malnutrition.

An estimated 2.5 million people—including 600,000 children between the ages of five and nine—faced starvation last month. Many already were eating bark and leaves, and officials said conditions would worsen this month and next—the months of rice harvest—since there would be little, if any, produce in the fields.

Not since the Nazi holocaust has one race of people been subjected to such direct and indirect persecution. The Khmer people comprised 90 percent of Cambodia’s 7.5 million population in the mid-1970s—before the Communist regime of Pol Pot took over in 1975. He instituted a genocidal policy, aimed at eliminating the educated class and creating a peasant, agrarian society. An estimated 2 to 3 million persons died—either by murder or from disease and malnutrition. Current conditions would indicate that Pol Pot’s successor has done little to improve the situation.

Late in August, John D. Robb, Jr., partner in a prestigious Albuquerque, New Mexico, law firm, happened upon a wire service story in the morning newspaper. The article described the plight of the Cambodians—people trapped inside a country that was doing nothing but watching them die.
“The story hit me with tremendous force,” says Robb. “It sounded exactly like a modern day Holocaust, which I learned later is exactly what was happening.”
Actually, Robb heard about the Cambodian catastrophe a short time before. His son, John D. III, had just returned home from missionary work in Malaysia. “My son had been bugging me to do something for the many thousands of Cambodians who were starving,” said Robb, 55. “But like most people would, I guess, I ignored him. I didn’t grasp what he was saying.”
Robb began his own investigation of the Cambodian situation—even querying State Department officials whether newspaper accounts of the situation were accurate. As he continued to investigate, Robb became convinced of the horror in Cambodia. He felt that people were overlooking the situation, and that the U.S. government had not made Cambodia a priority.
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Stirred deeply, Robb wondered what he—one person—could do. To do anything at all, he knew he would need help.
First, Robb called Max Leach, Jr., a good friend and an administrator for a cardio-vascular recovery program at Albuquerque’s Presbyterian Hospital Center. Like Robb, Leach attends Albuquerque’s interdenominational Christian Center church and is a committed Christian. The men first met through a family Bible study, and they were active in organizing “Here’s Life, New Mexico” of Campus Crusade.
In September, the pair formed Christians for Cambodia, a nonprofit organization not out to raise funds. Its purpose would be to save the lives of Cambodians through intercessory prayer.
The men began on a small scale. First, they telephoned every clergyman in Albuquerque (some 200). They asked every pastor to offer special prayer for Cambodia during their Sunday, September 22, worship services.
Robb said the results of that mass prayer were spectacular. A few days later, the Heng Samrin government and the Pol Pot guerrillas agreed to allow foreign representatives to bring food and medicine into the country. The breakthrough came after weeks of negotiations, but Robb and Leach said they knew how breakthroughs have a way of becoming breakdowns. They determined to continue their efforts at full force.
They both took leaves of absence from their jobs, and have been giving their full time to Christians for Cambodia. The men issued a barrage of pleas and paper that would exhaust a battery of lobbyists.
Robb, himself, frequently has visited the Washington, D.C., office of Senator Pete Domenici (R-N. Mex.). Impressed by Robb’s fervor, Domenici introduced the work of Christians for Cambodia on the Senate floor and into the pages of the Congressional Record.
Robb and Leach have written more letters to President Jimmy Carter than a Plains, Georgia, kinsman. When Carter visited Albuquerque for a western governor’s meeting early last month, Robb, Leach, and 40 of their recruits picketed the event and urged Carter to “marshall world opinion against the Communist starvation-murder of the Cambodians.”
The two men have made telephone calls to Secretary of State Cyrus Vance, Senator Frank Church, and evangelist Billy Graham. Recently, they collared New Mexico Governor Bruce King and the mayor of Albuquerque—asking the politicians to sponsor a state-wide day of fasting late last month. “We won’t stop until we know that food in adequate amounts is actually reaching the civilians,” said Leach.
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“Until the Senate or the President can accomplish something, we’re going to keep on asking God to work through us,” said Robb.
Both men say their new work has greatly changed them. “God has strengthened my prayer life,” said Robb. “I used to think an hour a day was a lot. Now I know it’s not.” He also says the idea of millions without food has caused him to cut down to two meals a day: “Somehow I sense that in our affluence I’ve been eating too much.” Leach says his involvement has given him an outlet for “creative Christianity,” and has brought reality to his faith.
Some Albuquerque critics say the men have given themselves to a lost cause—that two people from the southwest corner of the United States cannot make the tiniest incision in red tape that stretches around the world. In one sense, both Robb and Leach agree.
“What we’re trying to do is humanly impossible,” says Robb. “That’s why we’re calling on God to intervene. He will hear our toil and our prayers. We’re sure of it.”
Evangelicals Break Through the Social Justice Barrier

Last month Carl F. H. Henry, first editor ofCHRISTIANITY TODAY, participated in the All India Conference on Evangelical Social Concern as the World Vision-sponsored main lecturer. He filed this story from Bangalore after speaking also to faculty, students, pastors, and Christian workers in that city, and in Bombay, Madras, and Yavatmal.

Meeting in Madras for an All India Conference on Evangelical Social Concern, 125 evangelical leaders—under the authority of the Bible and in devotion to the finality of Jesus Christ—for the first time shaped a comprehensive commitment to social justice alongside their long-standing dedication to evangelism and education as indispensable aspects of the Christian mission.

In a 1500-word Madras “Declaration on Evangelical Social Action,” participants rejected revolution and violence as means of social change, yet called for rectification of systemic and structural evils. The statement is not pacifistic, since it does not rule out nonviolent resistance. It demonstrated that aggressive commitment to social action among many Indian evangelical leaders runs deeper and wider than that of the American churches that have sponsored and supported them for so long.

An example from the declaration: “Whereas the Bible witnesses that God’s action included the judgment of systemic evils such as poverty and injustice, we have identified the Bible’s view of sin only with personal, spiritual, and moral rebellion and wrongdoing. For this we repent and commit ourselves … to challenge and correct social sins such as dowry, bribery, and corruption, especially within the Christian community.”

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Madras conferees singled out illiteracy and the exploitation of child labor, alongside famine and destitution, as issues that evangelicals should promptly address. India has a child labor force of 16.5 million. Women participants lamented that women are not as ready as men to be involved publicly.

The conference coincided with what spokesmen called “an all-time low” on social, political, and economic fronts in India: fierce monsoon rains had destroyed crops in some areas and bypassed other, parched areas; political instability prevailed; and the entrenchment of castism and failure to respond to the 60 percent of the people in poverty invited communal violence.

A Declaration passage reads, “Whereas Jesus identified injustice and took sides with women and social outcasts of His day—tax collectors, lepers, and Samaritans—in our concern to be distinct from the world and its values we have isolated the community of the King from other human communities. For this we repent and commit ourselves … to counteract the communalistic spirit in our land by crossing barriers of wealth, color, caste, and religion.”

The Madras statement is thought by Indian Christians to be no less historically significant than when Alexander Duff placed education alongside William Carey’s emphasis on evangelism as a necessary aspect of the church’s mission. Only 2 to 3 percent of India’s population of 600 million is Christian, but the same statistics can be read more optimistically: less than two centuries after the arrival of the first modern missionaries, India has 15 million Christians.

Evangelical participants insisted that social action must not be pursued at the cost of evangelism. But they stood impressively with my call for dedication to the God of justice and of justification.

All other conference speakers were Indian:

• D. John Richard, executive secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India, gave the opening address and a subsequent paper stressing the apostle Paul’s emphasis on human rights before the law. Discussing Christian lifestyle, Richard commented, “You can’t enjoy the life of Jesus unless you have His lifestyle.”

• Rudy Rodriques, one of the 29 Christian members of parliament before the recent dissolution of the government, gave a lucid address on political engagement.

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• Vinay K. Samuel, pastor of Saint John’s Church, Bangalore, and leader in the work of EFICOR (Evangelical Fellowship of India Committee on Relief), described the theology of development pursued by that agency, and also presented a paper on social justice.

• Samuel Kamaleson, for 13 years a Madras pastor and now World Vision vice-president at large, was the nightly devotional speaker. He declared that the time for evangelical action is at hand “unless evangelicals disobey Christ and accommodate themselves to the secular environment, a time in the fortunes of India when ‘the people of the Way’ can move forward in devout and dedicated leadership.” (World Vision is currently the largest social service agency in India, with a child care program for almost 22,000 needy children and an active program of relief, development, and training in Christian living.)

The Madras conference elected a seven-member Commission on Human Rights and Social Action, which included V. K. Nuh of Nagaland, where 60 percent are Christians but where, evangelical spokesmen protest, Indian politicians deprive the Nagas of equal treatment, preserving a primitive status in order to maintain their dependence on India in light of an earlier threat to secede.


Jack Hyles and Jack Wyrtzen were not part of the evangelical delegation that met last month with presidential candidates (Nov. 2 issue, p. 81).
The correct title for folk rock singer Bob Dylan’s new album (Oct. 5 issue, p. 60) is “Slow Train Coming.”
North American Scene

“When I read this book [Bible], I don’t critique it—it critiques me,” said evangelical theologian R.C. Sproul. His keynote address set the tone for a recent four-day gathering, “Interpreting God’s Infallible Word,” held at Westminster Theological Seminary as part of its fiftieth anniversary celebration. Some two dozen speakers discussed various aspects of hermeneutics from a position of biblical inerrancy; the 400-student seminary expected to publish a compendium of the conference papers.

President Jimmy Carter’s pastor, senior minister Charles Trentham of First Baptist Church in Washington, D.C., was dismissed last month by a 166 to 140 vote of the congregation. The twice-divorced Trentham, 60, was accused of having a romantic relationship with a 28-year-old divorcee in the congregation, who reportedly had come to him for counseling. Trentham told the Baptist Press that the woman “never sought and never received counseling” from him, and has declared in his defense that his relationship with the woman is a “Christian” one involving no violation of church principles. A White House spokesman said Carter would have no comment.

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Homosexuality remains a big issue in the United Methodist Church. The UMC General Board of Church and Society last month requested a major shift in UMC policy on homosexuality: it recommended to the 1980 General Conference the deletion of the “Social Principles” statement that rejects practicing homosexuality as “incompatible with Christian teaching.” The board asked that the statement, which has been a primary defense against ordination of practicing homosexuals, be replaced with one saying that the issue is open for reexamination—that “we are seeking the truth” in the matter. In September the UMC Commission on the Status of Women rejected “sexual orientation” as a factor in its employment practices—insuring that homosexuals would not be discriminated against in its hiring and personnel policies.

Private Christian schools in Kentucky last month won a battle over state regulation. The Kentucky Supreme Court said the state constitution does not permit the state to force nonpublic schools to meet the same accreditation requirements for courses and teachers as public schools. The court’s 12-page decision resulted from a suit filed in 1977 by the Kentucky Association of Christian Schools. It contested the state board of education’s refusal to grant accreditation to 20 Christian schools that, among other things, rejected state-approved textbooks and state certification of teachers.

Spiritual Counterfeits Project devoted its entire 55-page October Journal to a critical analysis of Eckankar, the California-based cult that claims to help persons become “God-realized” through the “Ancient Science of Soul Travel.” SCP studied the development of the 15-year-old, U.S.-born movement, and by using Eckankar writings and publications, points out inconsistencies and contradictions in Eck doctrine, which “represents a direct challenge to all that is biblically true of God and man.” Eckankar is one of the largest, but least publicized, cults in the U.S., and SCP chose this extensive study, saying “it has become painfully obvious that religious cults present grave dangers to society and to the individual.”

World Scene

A Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) international gathering issued a report critical of traditional missionary evangelism at a meeting in Kingston, Jamaica. The first world study conference of the Disciples Ecumenical Council declared last month that mission efforts that stress a “highly individualistic” concept of conversion are oppressive, destructive, self-centered, and a new form of “Western religious imperialism.”

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A secret “blacklist” of Church of England clergymen came to light recently. Its existence was disclosed by clergy who have joined a white-collar trade union (and presumably surmised that their names might be entered). A spokesman at Lambeth Palace, official residence of the archbishop of Canterbury, confirmed the existence of the secret file. Archbishop of Canterbury-designate Robert Runcie said he would investigate the matter as soon as he becomes primate in March.

A Church of England commission last month called for lifting a ban on homosexual clergymen. Under the proposal, clergymen who are or who become practicing homosexuals would be required to offer their resignations to their bishop, but the bishop would have discretion to accept or reject the resignation. The report is not scheduled to be submitted to the church’s General Synod for debate before 1981. But opponents were expected to seek its rejection at this month’s meeting of the synod in London.

A former lecturer at Leningrad University has been placed in a psychiatric hospital for forced treatment. Vyacheslav Zaitsev was declared a schizophrenic at a Minsk court hearing last June 15. He was arrested a year ago for distributing leaflets describing Christ’s second coming. Two Zaitsev doctoral dissertations were banned because they contained the view that religion is a determining factor in the history of mankind. After becoming a member of the Russian Orthodox Church, Zaitsev was dismissed from his Academy of Sciences post. His case is described in detail in the Information Bulletin of the Moscow-based Commission to Investigate the Use of Psychiatry for Political Ends.

Ethiopian church leader Gudina Tumsa is being held and tortured in a secret prison in Addis Ababa. That is the report, based on “unconfirmed information from a usually reliable source in the Ethiopian capital,” carried in the Norwegian newspaper Vaart Land in late September. Tumsa, general secretary of the (Lutheran) Mekane Yesus Church and chairman of the Council of Ethiopian churches, was kidnapped on July 28 by unknown men. Vaart Land reported that Ethiopian authorities were shocked by international publicity given their two earlier arrests of Tumsa, and speculated that the government did not want to expose itself to similar criticism again and therefore arranged the kidnapping. Since no official arrest was made, there has been little basis for a direct appeal to the authorities.

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The religious rationale for the policy of racial discrimination in South Africa was challenged from its bastion of strength last month. A commission of theologians from the Dutch Reformed Church’s seminary at the University of Stellenbosch called apartheid “an evil which is in conflict with the biblical message of the equality of all people.” Delegates to the church’s Cape Province synod passed a resolution opposing “all racial discrimination which is in conflict with the ethical norm of love for one’s neighbor” or that conflicts with “justice.” Conservatives were partially placated with a passage stating that “the practical implementation of scriptural principle [that racial discrimination is wrong] does not imply that in practice the diversity of people may not be taken into account.”

More than half the members of the Evangelical Church in Iran have left the country since it became an Islamic republic early this year. But those remaining say there is no persecution of Christians, and the Bible Society of Iran reports that the sale of Bibles has increased considerably. Protestants reportedly number less than 5,000 of Iran’s 35 million people. ECI members, mostly of Assyrian and Armenian background, are estimated to be 1,500.


WALTER TROBISCH, 55, family counselor who, through writing, lectures, and seminars, had a worldwide ministry to families; his latest book, Living with Unfulfilled Desires (InterVarsity Press), is scheduled for publication next month; October 13 in Saint Georgen, Austria, of a heart attack.

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