Postwar Reports

• The National Evangelical Church in Kuwait City emerged from the war safe but scarred. All church members remaining in the country were reported safe after allied troops freed the city. But fleeing Iraqi troops looted the church buildings, taking everything from keepsakes to plumbing as they left.

Southern Baptist missionary Maurice Graham, who was trapped in the U.S. embassy for nearly four months, and Reformed Church in America pastor Jerry Zandstra, who was in the U.S. at the time of the invasion, said they hope to return soon to the church, where more than 8,000 worshiped before the war.

• A European human-rights group charged that since 1968 Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has killed more than 20,000 Assyrian Christians, expelled 75,000, and destroyed nearly 100 churches. The Society for Threatened Peoples said Hussein has targeted the Assyrian Christians (who number an estimated 400,000 to 750,000 in northern Iraq) and the Kurds for persecution and extinction.

• Southern Baptist chaplains recorded at least 1,200 professions of faith by troops serving in the Persian Gulf.

Murders Raise Fears Of Kgb

The killings of three Russian Orthodox priests who championed religious freedom have raised speculation about renewed KGB activity against religion. Last September, Fr. Alexander Menn was killed by an ax blow to the neck (CT, Oct. 22, 1990, p. 60). Orthodox monk Hegumen Lazar was beaten and stabbed last December; Fr. Seraphim Shlykov, a priest at the Church of the Nativity in Moscow, was murdered near midnight on February 1.

During a recent visit to the U.S., Andre Bessmertny, an activist with the Russian Christian Democratic movement and a close associate of Menn’s, told News Network International, “I am convinced that Menn’s death was a result of an either direct or indirect order by the KGB.” While no direct links between the KGB and the murders have been made, human-rights observers point to many unanswered questions about the incidents and the apparent strengthening ties between hard-line Communist party officials and the secret police.

Denominations Lose

Church attendance in England declined seriously during the past decade, according to a report by MARC (Missions Advanced Research and Communications Center) Europe. Figures in the report “Christian England” indicate that more than 1,000 persons, most under the age of 30, leave the churches each week. Those with the largest declines were the Anglican Church (about 31 percent of those surveyed) with a 9 percent drop since 1979; the Methodist Church, 11 percent; the Roman Catholic Church, 14 percent; and United Reformed Churches, 18 percent.

While these denominations showed decline, evangelical and charismatic churches and groups posted gains. Attendance at “house churches” increased by 144 percent during the past decade. Churches that described themselves as “mainstream” evangelical grew by 15 percent.

More than 38,000 churches were surveyed on one Sunday in October 1989. Some 3.7 million adults and 1.2 million children were in church that day, representing 10 percent of the adult, and 14 percent of the child populations.

War Leaves Devastation

While a tenuous cease-fire among Liberia’s warring factions was maintained last month, missions and relief agencies returned to the country to assess damage and found their worst-case scenarios had come true. Two SIM doctors reported “immense physical need” in the capital city of Monrovia, which has swelled with refugees.

“Malnutrition, especially among the estimated 100,000 children in the city, is claiming five to ten lives a day,” they said. “The entire infrastructure of the country has collapsed.” An estimated 50,000 were killed during the war in the West African country; half of its 2.5 million population has been displaced. Though the situation has improved, relief efforts are hampered by corruption and lack of food, say agency officials.

The fighting heavily damaged SIM-run Radio ELWA and its campus, which included a hospital, school, and printing plant. Losses there are estimated at $5 million to $10 million.

Briefly Noted

Reported: The conversion of Manuel Noriega, after two Texas evangelists witnessed to him in a Florida federal prison. “I received Jesus Christ as my savior the 15th of May of 1990 at 11 a.m.… in the Metropolitan Correctional Center of Dade County, Fla.,” Noriega wrote in a journal entry, as published by the Florida Baptist Witness.

Changed: The name of the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association (EFMA), to the Evangelical Fellowship of Mission Agencies.

The name behind the initials SIM, which originally stood for Sudan Interior Mission, to Society for International Ministries.

Killed: Ethiopian church worker Nana Shaga, stabbed to death near the remote community of Alduba in southwestern Ethiopia. He is the third evangelist be killed by Omo River valley tribespeople in that area, missionaries report.

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