It looked like the world’s largest “I Found It” campaign. But the significance of the August ’80 World Evangelization Crusade (WEC) in Seoul, Korea, ran deeper. It publicly signaled that the church in the Republic of Korea (South) has deliberately moved front being a missionary receiving church to a missionary sending one.
A three-point declaration—read on the final night of the crusade to a crowd estimated by crusade officials and news reporters at an unprecedented 3 million—committed the gathering to “place at God’s disposal the resources of the church of Jesus Christ in Korea, for world evangelization.”
The human resources of that church—which, while multiplying rapidly, has been rent by schisms in the last generation—are considerable when united. The crusade demonstrated that.
The shoulder-to-shoulder multitude was impressive by any measure. The Korean press calculated turnouts of 2 million or more on two of the four evening sessions preceding the record-breaking final one. But, massed as they were on the giant outdoor plaza on Yoido Island in the Han River where the rallies were held, there was no way to verify accurately the crowd estimates. (In the past, police estimates have been more modest than those of organizers and the press.)
They came by bus loads from nearby cities, such as Inchon, and from cities as far away as Pusan. They camped in some 3,000 tents skirting the outdoor, asphalt plaza; they sat on half-inch styrofoam mats or newspapers spread out on the tarmac. The frequent heavy, soaking rains did not quench the gusto of the singing or the fervency of the mass prayers. Five all-night prayer meetings continued until five o’clock A.M. with a nightly combined attendance estimated at 600,000. Some 5,000 non-Korean participants from 60 countries were swallowed up in the sea of Korean faces.
Such numbers of Protestant Christians would be impossible to assemble elsewhere in East Asia where Christians average less than 3 percent of the population. Only the Philippines, with its large Roman Catholic majority, outstrips Korea in the ratio of Christians to the general population. The Korean Protestant community came close to doubling its size during each of the three decades since 1940 (from 370,000 in 1940, to 600,000 in 1950, to 1.34 million in 1960, to 2.25 million in 1970). But it has more than tripled in the last decade, achieving 7 million at the end of 1979. Thus the Protestant population is approaching 20 percent of the national total—estimated at 38.2 million for mid-1980. These are distributed among some 18,000 churches with nearly 30,000 pastors and evangelists.
On the heels of a Campus Crusade for Christ (CCC) “Here’s Life Korea” campaign, the August 11–15 ’80 World Evangelization Crusade left foreign observers wondering how much participation was promotion for Campus Crusade and how much was genuinely Korean church oriented. “I Found It” buttons were sold throughout the campaign and the same logo appeared on all WEC materials. Crusade chairman Joon Gon Kim tested the Here’s Life campaign a year ago in Taegu and chose to use the “I Found It” strategy in mid-July in Seoul to build up to, and heighten awareness of, the WEC. The second phase of the CCC campaign, “New Life in Christ. You Can Find It Too,” spilled over into the WEC. As for financing, however, sources reported that Campus Crusade had promised no funds toward the nearly $5 million cost of the WEC—and provided none.
Each evening the Korean Christians responded warmly to four or five messages in a row. Most lines of the message on the Second Coming of Christ by Peter Beyerhaus of Tübingen University in West Germany were punctuated with loud cries of “Amen.” Other speakers included Yonggi Cho, pastor of the 100,000-plus-member Full Gospel Central Church in Seoul; Philip Teng, president of the China Graduate School of Theology in Hong Kong; James irwin, former Apollo 15 astronaut; and Bill Bright, Campus Crusade president.
The WEC was one in a series of public rallies organized since 1970 and expected to culminate in 1984 in celebration of the centennial of missions in Korea. The total Christianization movement was ignited in 1970 at the Soowom Conference, followed the next year by the Taejon Leadership Training Institute, the Billy Graham crusade in 1973, and the CCC Explo ’74. The WEC was itself an outgrowth of the 1977 Korean Evangelistic Rally. The WEC climaxed a one-year Christianization drive in key cities throughout the Republic, and kicked off a four-year plan toward out-and-out world evangelization. Nineteen Protestant denominations jointly sponsored the WEC meetings.
Some have wondered how a security-conscious government such as the current South Korea regime could approve of such mass gatherings. But the Christian movement in Korea is overwhelmingly nationalist and anti-Communist. Crusade chairman Kim himself was tortured by Communist cadres during the Korean conflict, and witnessed the killings of his wife and father in 1950. Three of the Republic’s first four presidents were Christian. The proportion of Christians in the armed forces—served by an aggressive chaplaincy corps—is much higher than in the general population.
R. A. Torrey, director of the Anglican Jesus Abbey in Kangweondo, and grandson of the associate of D. L. Moody of the same name, did call for national and individual repentance, speaking out strongly against abortion and for addressing the needs of the poor.
But the basic stress was on missions. Kim issued a call for 100,000 missionaries from Korea to serve in other countries by 1984—the centennial: a thousand missionaries for every year of Protestant Christianization effort in Korea. Ten thousand university students, along with 3,000 high school students, committed themselves to this goal. He called on the nation’s parents to give up their sons and daughters, releasing them to accelerate fulfillment of the Great Commission.
“The missionary may be either short- or long-term,” Kim said, explaining the envisioned inclusive effort to cause every believer, whatever his field of interest, to reach one and teach one. Part of the thrust involves sending teams of youth to enroll in universities in nations with little or no Christian witness, such as China and Japan.
There are already approximately 300 Korean missionaries abroad primarily serving Korean ethnic groups. The WEC shifted its missionary emphasis to a cross-cultural thrust, but not with a united voice. “Look at the early church,” insisted Kim; “they sent workers to evangelize Rome and other cultures before finishing the evangelization of their homeland.” On the same platform on the same evening, however, honorary chairman Han highlighted the unreached villages and the poor within Korea. “Evangelize Jerusalem first,” he said, “and then Judea—evangelize Korea first.”
Another point of disagreement during the crusade was higher education. Korea boasts some 10 Protestant colleges and universities, 40 Bible schools, and 70 seminaries. The educators urged advanced training. But Kim and Torrey called on “the unsophisticated and the unconceited, the humble” to go just as they are and not to get too “stuck up” to work among the masses.
The overwhelming impression imparted by the crusade was the power unleashed when a people is united. “Before the coming of the last days of our earth,” exhorted Kim, “surely it is possible that one people, just once, could be totally given to God so that all they have is at his disposal. I believe we are facing just this miraculous possibility,” he added.
The WEC itself served as a demonstration project. While they put foreign speakers in the prestigious Lotte Hotel, thousands of Korean Christians fasted weekly and gave rice or the cost of a day’s meals once a week for a year. Large banners across streets at pedestrian overhead crossings—paid for by individual churches—proclaimed “I Found It” in Korean and flashed the crusade emblem and church name. Some churches gave 1 percent of their budgets toward crusade expenses, according to Kim. “The widow’s mite” offerings came from villages where anyone, no matter how small his offering, could contribute through a post office or bank.
Some believers even gave blood for free transfusions for the poor; the blood supply in Seoul has been insufficient to meet the demands of its 8 million residents. As an act of Christian love in order to help overcome the shortage, the Christians also established the House of Blood Donations in July, donating an initial 3,000 pints of blood.
The Nicaraguan Junta Reassures Evangelicals
“As long as Sandinismo exists in Nicaragua, Christianity will continue to exist,” affirmed Tomás Borge, revolutionary guerrilla commander and minister of the interior in Nicaragua’s governing junta. Sandinismo is the revolutionary movement that toppled dictator Anastasio Somoza in 1979 and now animates the leadership of the Central American country. Of its three founders, Borge (pronounced BORE-hay) alone survives.
“In Nicaragua we don’t see Sandinismo and Christianity as being contradictory factors,” he went on. “You have heard us say, ‘Sandinismo today, Sandinismo yesterday, Sandinismo forever!’ Let me add, ‘Jesus Christ today, Jesus Christ yesterday, Jesus Christ forever!’ ”
Borge’s statements came at an unprecedented July 31 gathering of the local chapter of the Full Gospel Business Men’s Fellowship International at Managua’s Intercontinental Hotel, attended by four of the five members of the ruling junta (the fifth was out of the country), members of the state council, Roman Catholic Archbishop Obando y Bravo, other bishops, Protestant clergy, local businessmen, members of the diplomatic corps, and visitors from other countries.
“Nicaragua’s doors are open to everyone who comes with love and with his Christian faith,” said Borge. Then, turning to the special speaker of the evening, former U.S. astronaut Charles Duke, he commented: “I believe Nicaragua gave you a better welcome than you got on the moon!”
After Duke presented his Christian testimony, an evangelistic invitation was given and there were numerous responses. All attenders then received a gift of a Bible.
Local television gave the event full coverage. One Managua newspaper featured it with front-page headlines and photos.
In an interview with Christian Broadcasting Network correspondent Paul Cole, Borge, who now heads the armed forces, said he has forgiven the National Guard soldiers of Somoza who castrated him, killed his wife, and forced him to watch while 17 men gang-raped, and then killed, his daughter.
Fidel Castro, who was in Nicaragua on the first anniversary of the Nicaraguan revolution, called a conference of Nicaraguan Catholic and Protestant leaders at which he reportedly expressed his regrets that in Cuba’s revolution, church-and-state relations had not been as cordial as they have been in Nicaragua.
Despite recent fears that the Nicaraguan revolution would be taking a Cuban-style Communistic direction, the governing junta appears to be demonstrating a desire to gain broad popular support among both Roman Catholics and Protestants.
Nicaragua’s 21-year-old evangelical radio station, YNOL, continues to broadcast freely and recently has been joined by another radio voice, the more Pentecostal-oriented Radio Maravilla (“Miracle Radio”).
The current countrywide literacy campaign aimed at teaching half the nation’s population to read and write, while heavily staffed by Cubans, has also involved Nicaraguan Christian young people. Evangelicals working in rural areas report some conversions; Catholic slogans exhort every literacy teacher to be “an evangelist.”
Borge challenged FGBMFI leaders to provide a Bible for each new reader and to develop Christian rehabilitation programs for Nicaragua’s 7,000 prisoners—mostly former members of Somoza’s national guard.
The Managua banquet was organized at the request of Borge. He had attended a similar event in Costa Rica a few months ago, and then had approached Demos Shakarian, FGBMFI founder-president, and Jonás González, who has been organizing chapters in several Latin American countries.
PAUL E. PRETIZ
The National Affairs Briefing
Evangelicals Give Reagan a ‘Non-partisan’ Stump
Republican presidential candidate Ronald Reagan took his campaign to heat-choked Dallas late last month where he met with an emerging group of power brokers in American politics—conservative evangelical Christians. “I know you can’t endorse me,” the former California governor told a gathering of nearly 15,000 evangelical and fundamentalist pastors. “but I want you to know that I endorse you and what you are doing.”
What the preachers are doing, in their words, is raising up an army of Christian soldiers in an effort to restore America to righteousness and world respect. Now, instead of relying solely on the power of prayer, the conservative evangelicals are turning to the power of the polling booth, organizing an ambitious program to elect “promorality” candidates to public office.
“It is time to crawl out from under the pews and stop looking through the stained glass windows.” said Texas television evangelist James Robison, who brought the preachers to Dallas for a two-day National Affairs Briefing and strategy session. “If we ever get our act together, the politicians won’t have a stage to play on. We can turn to God or bring down the curtain. We can sound the charge or play ‘Taps.’ ”
The briefing was sponsored by the Roundtable, part of a growing network of right-wing religious lobbying groups, and its organizers assured the crowd that the meeting was not partisan. But speaker after speaker railed against the policies and performance of the Carter administration, and when it was over it was plain that Reagan had the hearts and the votes, if not the formal endorsement, of the new religious right.
He was the only one of the three major presidential candidates to accept Roundtable’s invitation to speak to the briefing, and he was introduced to the crowd by D. James Kennedy of Fort Lauderdale’s Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church as “a man who understands the signs of the times and our nation’s great traditional principles. Our hope is in God and the promises of his Word. Here is a man who believes that Word, who trusts in the living God and his Son Jesus Christ.”
During a press conference prior to his speech to the pastors, the Republican nominee urged that the biblical story of creation be taught in the nation’s public schools as an alternative to the theory of evolution, a theory he said is increasingly discredited by scientists. He criticized the “increasing tendency of the state interfering with religion.” And he said that abortion is clearly “the taking of a human life.”
Still, Reagan appears uncomfortable discussing the implications of his personal religious faith, and when asked if he were a “born-again Christian,” the one-time actor hesitated briefly and then replied that he was—in the sense that he had once submitted to “voluntary baptism.”
Reagan, who said he would be “proud and happy” to gain the votes of conservative Christians, noted that the evangelical right had become disillusioned with President Carter, a “born-again” Southern Baptist, because “he wore his religion on his sleeve and used it more than it used him.”
But the marriage of Reagan to the bedrock conservative evangelicals may have its rocky moments, too. He is, for example, divorced (and remarried)—and the children from both marriages have set less than a pristine example for the nation’s youth. And, when Reagan reluctantly made public his 1979 income tax return recently, it was disclosed that he donated less than 1 percent of his adjusted gross income to charitable and religious causes, a level of stewardship far short of the 10 percent tithe held as the ideal by many evangelicals who support him.
But much of that is likely to be forgiven so long as Reagan continues to preach the political gospel of the religious right. At a private session with about a dozen evangelical leaders in Dallas, Reagan reportedly vowed to appoint “godly men” to positions in his administration. “I believe the government ought to do the will of God,” Reagan reportedly said.
The emergence of the evangelical right on the American political landscape has been orchestrated largely by television preachers: Robison, Christian Broadcasting Network president M. G. “Pat” Robertson, and Jerry Falwell of Lynchburg, Virginia. They have already raised millions of dollars to finance political lobbies that speak out against such causes as abortion, the Equal Rights Amendment, civil rights for homosexuals, and government intervention in the affairs of parochial schools. The causes they favor include prayer and Bible reading in public schools, a stronger military posture, and preservation of the free enterprise system.
The goal of the umbrella movement of religious lobbies, including Falwell’s Moral Majority and Christian Voice, is identifying and registering before the fall election some 10 million evangelical, promorality voters. Moral Majority claims to have registered 3 million such voters since the 1978 election. They are focusing more on defeating liberal incumbents than in promoting the challengers. The religious lobbyists in Dallas most often cited 2 Chronicles 7:14 and Proverbs 29:2 as scriptural mandates for Christians’ involvement in the political process.
The National Affairs Briefing was the first major gathering of all of the factions in the movement, and it drew pastors from 41 states. Evangelical leaders who addressed the crowd: Bailey Smith, a Del City, Oklahoma, pastor and current president of the Southern Baptist Convention (who revealed after the meeting that President Carter’s liaison to the religious community. Bob Maddox, had attempted to talk him out of participating in the briefing); Adrian Rogers of Memphis, Tennessee, immediate past president of the Southern Baptist Convention; W. A. Criswell, pulpit warrior of Dallas’s 20,000-member First Baptist Church; Paige Patterson, director of the Criswell Center for Biblical Studies in Dallas; and E. V. Hill, pastor of the Mount Zion Baptist Church in the Watts section of Los Angeles.
Among those in the audience were Nelson Bunker Hunt, the Dallas oil billionaire and silver speculator who is best known in this crowd for his close relationship with Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ, T. Cullen Davis, a wealthy Texas industrialist who reported a born-again experience under Robison’s tutelage soon after his acquittal this year in a sensational murder-for-hire trial, and at least one member of the Adolph Coors family, the beer brewers from Colorado, who contribute lavishly to right-wing causes.
The burst of evangelical activism comes at a time when the Protestant left appears to be largely disinterested in politics. And it comes on the heels of a directive from Pope John Paul II urging Roman Catholic priests and religious to abandon their political interests in favor of the sacramental and churchly functions of their vocation.
Target: Sexual Immorality
‘Clean Up TV’ Campaign Aims at Sponsors’ Products
Even if television sex and violence gives them a headache, thousands of Christian viewers might not be taking Anacin come October 1. That’s the intended starting date of a unique consumer boycott aimed at elimination of morally objectionable material from TV programs.
About 500,000 persons in 6,000 Churches of Christ congregations were participating last month in a “Clean Up Television” campaign. This represents about one-third of all churches identifying with the loosely affiliated group (without national staff or headquarters) of about 3 million churchmen.
The campaign began as an idea of pastor John M. Hurt and his Joelton, Tennessee, Church of Christ with its approximately 350 attenders. Apparently they have tuned in to the concerns of a number of conservative churchmen. Super-church and TV preacher Jerry Falwell has indicated he will promote the campaign, said Hurt. The Free Will Baptists at their annual meeting supported the campaign, and a leading Southern Baptist official has done so privately, Hurt added.
Unlike other campaigns, which ask viewers to stop watching certain programs or networks as a form of protest, the “Clean Up Television” campaign has asked viewers to stop buying products from companies that most actively buy ads on programs deemed morally offensive. Targeted for the boycott if they did not stop purchasing ads on allegedly offensive programs were the Anacin-selling American Home Products, General Foods, and Warner-Lambert.
Hurt has said the “Clean Up Television” campaign involves no attempt at censorship, and that sponsors remain free to purchase ads on any program they see fit. In a letter to General Foods he said: “We are simply exercising our right not to allow sponsors to use our money to support material which we feel to be offensive. If others wish to see such immoral material, they should be willing to pay for it themselves by increasing their purchases of the products involved.”
“We’re not trying to take shows off the air,” said Hurt in an interview. “What we’re asking is that these shows be cleaned up. “The group wants the removal of scenes of adultery, sexual perversion, incest—generally, “any material that treats immorality in a joking or otherwise favorable light,” he said.
The campaign began when participating churches distributed surveys to their members: adults and teen-agers were asked to list the five programs they felt to be the most offensive and the five they considered best. From those responses, organizers arrived at a list of 10 most offensive programs. Leading the list of allegedly offensive network presentations were “Soap,” “Three’s Company,” “Dallas,” “Saturday Night Live,” and “Charlie’s Angels.” Judged the most offensive syndicated programs were “The Newlywed Game,” “The Dating Game,” and “Three’s a Crowd.”
Next, the organizers monitored those programs to determine which companies most actively sponsored them: these were American Home Products, General Foods, and the Warner-Lambert Corporation. The companies were advised that unless their sponsorship of those programs ceased, the boycott of their products would begin.
Vice-president of marketing services F. Kent Mitchell responded in a July 2 letter to Hurt that General Foods has had a long-standing commitment to advertising only on programs it regards to be in good taste.
He said the company reviews each individual prime-time program or episode prior to air time, and that programs not meeting the company’s standards of propriety are rejected for ad placement. He also said GF ceased advertising on “The Newlywed Game” and on “The Dating Game” a year ago “because these programs had deteriorated below our standards of good taste.”
When they joined the campaign, participants said they would sign pledges not to buy the three companies’ products should the boycott prove necessary. After visits last month with representatives of each company, campaign organizers decided to go ahead with a boycott of General Foods products including Kool-Aid, Jello, and Gaines Dog Food, and of American Home Products including Jiffy Pop, Dristan, and other wares.
The boycott will be more effective than a petition or a protest letter, Hurt asserted, and he believed participants would conscientiously support it: “Once they sign that kind of a pledge, most decent religious people are not going to violate it.”
In an interview late last month, Hurt said General Foods officials had been generally sympathetic, and he hoped they would reconsider. Warner-Lambert (Certs, Listerine, Dentyne Gum, etc.) requested, and got, an additional 30 days to review its sponsorship of the allegedly offensive programs: Hurt stated the company was an early leader in the fight against violence on TV, and he said last month it was looking into the possible “revision of [its] policy on immorality” as well. Only American Home Products had shown little sympathy for the campaign’s concerns, said Hurt.
(General Foods also made a “dishonor roll” of advertisers, that was compiled by another media watchdog group, the Tupelo, Mississippi-based National Federation for Decency. A recent NFD study, conducted by more than 500 volunteers who monitored 742 hours of programming, named General Foods as the most active sponsor of programs with non-Christian values, with American Home Products rated fifth on the list of ten. Warner-Lambert was not named.)
Hurt believes companies are misled if they think a program’s high ratings mean they are “giving people what they want.” He said the public may oppose scenes of immorality that are embedded in a story line, but not enough to stop watching the program, which they generally like. As an example, Hurt said that “Dallas” could “be considered a popular show for everybody” if certain offensive portions were taken out.
He said many viewers by necessity follow the “LOP Theory”—watching the least objectionable program. One can’t expect an improvement in TV content by asking people to turn off their sets, Hurt said: they won’t. Television has become more than an entertainment medium, he said, and is almost “as much a part of the basic environment as the electric light.”
A physician and surgeon, Robert L. Foster, has been elected international director of the Africa Evangelical Fellowship. In order to head the missionary sending and church planting agency, which works mostly in southern Africa countries, Foster will leave the staff of a Swiss Evangelical Mission hospital in central Angola—the only mission-operated hospital left in the country. He succeeds Arthur Deane, an Australian who is finishing his six-year term as head of AEF, which has a total organizational staff of about 260, mostly from the U.S., Canada, and Great Britain.
J. Rodman Williams resigned last month as president of Melodyland School of Theology in Anaheim, California. Williams, who will devote himself to writing and remain as a full-time faculty member, has been at the charismatic school since it opened in 1973 as an extension of pastor Ralph Wilkerson’s Melodyland Christian Center (church). Executive vice-president Ray McMurtry was named interim administrator at the school, which is recovering from disagreements in 1978 over the church-school relationship, causing eight (all but one) full-time faculty members to leave.
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