World’s Largest

South Korea has 12 of the world’s 25 largest churches, and the United States has one in the top 25, according to research done by John Vaughan of the Megachurch Research Center in Bolivar, Missouri.

The 10 largest churches, based on total attendance for worship services, are: Yoido Full Gospel Church, Seoul (180,000); Vision de Futuro, Santa Fe, Argentina (80,000); Deeper Christian Life Ministry, Lagos, Nigeria (70,000); Waves of Love and Peace, Buenos Aires (70,000); Jotabeche M. Pentecostal Church, Santiago, Chile (50,000); Kum Ran Methodist Church, Seoul (50,000); Nambu Full Gospel Church, Seoul (47,000); Soong Eui Methodist Church, Inchon, South Korea (40,000); Jesus Is Lord Fellowship, Manila (35,000); Madureira Assembly of God, Rio de Janeiro (30,000). First Baptist Church of Hammond, Indiana, (20,000) is fifteenth on the list.

Vaughan said overseas churches grow larger in part because they are willing to build and rebuild meeting facilities slightly smaller than needed, perpetuating the need for a new, second service that encourages further growth.

Famine Again

Parts of Africa are facing starvation equal to or greater than in the highly publicized famine in the mid-1980s. About 20 million people in the nations of Ethiopia, Sudan, Liberia, Angola, and Mozambique face starvation without immediate aid, according to recent reports. The potential famine is due to failing crops, low rainfall, and civil war.

About 2.5 million people are at increased risk of starving or dying of thirst in Ethiopia, where civil war has severely hampered aid deliveries and crop plantings. In the Sudan, several million are expected to face hunger next year because of civil war, two successive failed harvests, and poor autumn rainfalls. In Liberia, civil war displaced up to 1 million, while civil war in Angola has left about 1.9 million facing starvation.

Christians Tortured

Three Muslim converts to Christianity have been tortured repeatedly since their arrest and subsequent trial last November on charges of crimes against the government of Egypt, reports Amnesty International. The human-rights group says the three were in “bad physical condition” when they appeared at a mid-December hearing, “suffering from hunger and the effects of continuing torture, including electric shocks.”

The three men are Mohammad Hussein Ahmed Mohammad Selam, 25, Mustafa Mohammed Said al-Sharkawi, 27, and Hassan Mohammad Ismail, 21. All converted from Islam to Christianity from three to six years ago.

Although they were declared innocent at a November 24 court hearing in Egypt of having conducted “actions against a heavenly religion [Islam],” that ruling was appealed and the men were rearrested. They now face newly created charges and a potential sentence of up to eight years in prison. Sources in the Middle East say the three are members of the same church and have been offered release if they emigrate to the West. Their church is under increased pressure from the Egyptian Ministry of the Interior to reduce the profile of its ministry to Muslims, sources say.

Christian Centennial

Evangelicals in Costa Rica last month celebrated the centennial of the proclamation of the gospel in their country. More than 300,000 attended events that included a parade and a rally featuring evangelist Luis Palau.

Pentecostal churches, which form the largest evangelical group in Costa Rica today, were the primary sponsors for the centennial celebration, marking the one-hundredth anniversary of the time when Central American Mission (now CAM International) initiated its work there.

Palau spoke to about 150,000 people at the February 2 rally. For three days prior to that, an evangelistic campaign, which included three national television programs, drew about 83,000 to other meetings, where 3,700 indicated decisions for Christ. Palau also met with Costa Rican President Rafael Angel Calderon Fournier, a Roman Catholic, who expressed his respect for evangelicals, who now compose nearly a quarter of the nation’s 2.6 million people.

Briefly Noted

Slowed:Growth in the number of missionaries sent by agencies belonging to the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association (EFMA). Thirty affiliate agencies sent more missionaries in 1989, 18 sent the same number, and 35 sent fewer, according to EFMA, whose members represent a total of about 19,000 full- and short-term North American workers.

Named:John Erickson as general secretary of the United Bible Societies. Erickson is the vice-president of the American Bible Society.

Signed: An agreement to send Protestant professors to teach in two leading Soviet universities. The International Institute for Christian Studies has signed contracts to provide Western professors for the philosophy departments of Moscow State University and Novosibirsk State University, where interest in historical evidences and philosophical arguments for Christianity is strong.

Growing: The number of Protestant churches in Japan, where the Church Information Service reports a net increase of 215 churches for 1990. While Japan’s total population grew only .35 percent, Protestant churches grew by 3.1 percent. The ratio of general population to churches dropped by about 500, to 17,532 people per church.

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