When Rochunga Pudaite came from India to Wheaton College in suburban Chicago he knew only eight people in the United States. One—a missionary who had known him as a tribal boy in northeast India—asked in a letter, “who in the world squandered the Lord’s money to bring a little native boy like you to Wheaton?”

The “little native boy” recently mailed his millionth copy of the New Testament to Asia. As president of the Wheaton-based Bibles for the World organization, Pudaite, 46, has fewer than 300 million Bibles and Testaments to go before reaching his goal of sending Scripture to every telephone subscriber in the world.

Living Bible version New Testaments have gone to all persons having telephones in India, Nepal, Sikkim, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Singapore, and Malaysia. Pudaite’s native India received the most, 730,000; he estimates they will be read by more than 2.5 million leaders and their families. “Only the educated and professional elite can afford telephones in countries like India—the ones missionaries and national Christians have found hardest to reach,” he explains.

He describes the response as “overwhelming, more than we could imagine.” The first 50,000 Testaments mailed from Wheaton to India drew 20,000 inquiries and acknowledgments, many from non-Christian leaders, and only 100 or so were hostile (a letter bomb was addressed to his New Delhi office, from which many of the Testaments were mailed, but it was discovered and defused). Hindus and Muslims alike have written to express a newfound interest in Christ as a result of reading the New Testament. A minor hassle erupted when a leader of the World Home Bible League, a mission aiming to get Bibles into homes throughout the world, complained that Pudaite’s program had enraged Malaysian government leaders and jeopardized the work of other evangelicals in that land. (Pudaite had mailed New Testaments to all the cabinet members; national law prohibits conversion to Christianity.) No direct complaint was received from Malaysian officials, however, and everything is apparently all right.

Pudaite’s mailing schedule for 1974 includes Sri Lanka (Ceylon), Burma, Pakistan, Ireland, Indonesia, and Korea—about one million New Testaments in all. His goal for 1975 is two million, with projected increases each year to 200 million in 1984.

Pudaite plans to use translations of the Living Bible (it’s being translated into seventy-two languages) as needed, but he points out that English is spoken by most educated persons in India and in other countries in Asia and Africa.

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The pro-rated cost of mailing each large-print Living New Testament is one dollar including printing, postage, mailing, follow-up, and other related expenses. Each respondent receives answers to his questions and a booklet entitled “How to Read the Bible Profitably.” “We encourage others to follow up further,” Pudaite says. “One evangelical group is already planning a correspondence course for India.”

Pudaite has imaginative plans for raising the $400 million needed for mailing the Living New Testament to all the world’s telephone users. He encourages individual families and churches to be responsible for small towns and countries. The Lud Golz family of Novelty, Ohio, for example, chose Sikkim (250 telephones); their children helped paste on labels and stamps. Christians in Alabama adopted Bangladesh (110,000 phones) and held a rally last year at which Pat Boone and Governor George Wallace boosted support. Presently Pudaite is driving to enlist “a million committed Christians to provide for ten Bibles or more a year” and a “core group of 100,000 to give one Bible a day.” Among Pudaite’s biggest backers is Kenneth Taylor, publisher of the Living Bible, and his Tyndale House foundation. Pudaite’s board members include well-known evangelical leaders.

A short, polished, urbane man, Pudaite speaks of himself as “a tribal man accustomed to shooting arrows at targets.” “We’re sitting at the switchboard of the world with direct lines to over 300 million homes,” he says. “We have the message of life and death. And there are no busy signals!” His recently published biography, God’s Tribesman (A. J. Holman), describes his meteoric rise from the Hmar tribe in the backwoods of northeast India to his present role as a missionary leader. The Hmars were headhunters who long kept the British colonials at bay. A Welsh missionary layman named Watkin Roberts risked his life to enter the tribe in 1910, and he won five converts. One was Pudaite’s father, Chawnga, who evangelized thousands of Hmars after Watkin Roberts was dismissed by his mission board for insisting on having a national as field supervisor.

Chawnga stressed to his son the importance of getting an education. Pudaite recalls that from his early years he had a desire to translate the Bible into the Hmar language. He left home at age ten and walked ninety-six miles through the jungles to a school operated by the Northeast India General Mission, where he milked thirty-five cows a day for his keep. By working at odd jobs he got through an American Baptist high school in Jorhat and went on to St. Paul’s College in Calcutta. Here he gave himself a last name (the first in his tribe to do so) and met Jawaharlal Nehru, then prime minister. The Indian leader granted him the first government scholarship ever given to a tribesman. He later transferred to Allahabad University, where one day he met Bob Pierce, a traveling Youth for Christ evangelist who had just founded World Vision. Pierce was impressed by the Hmar youth’s vision to translate the Bible for his people and promised to help him come abroad for special study.

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Pudaite meanwhile had kept up his acquaintance with Nehru and on a visit to New Delhi persuaded the Indian leader to put the Hmars on the national census list and provide them with post offices. “How would you feel if your father had to walk eighty miles to mail you a letter?” he asked Nehru.

After graduation he returned to Hmarland a hero. Tribal leaders elected him to head the first Hmar political party, but on the eve of his acceptance he received a cable from Watkin Roberts offering to pay for Bible training in Britain. He flew to England and stopped first at the London office of the British and Foreign Bible Society to show an official the translation he had been working on in college. After receiving suggestions for revision, he went on to the Bible Training Institute in Glasgow. Here he met evangelist Billy Graham, who joined with Bob Pierce in arranging for his enrollment in Wheaton College graduate school under a scholarship grant from World Vision. While studying at Wheaton and Northern Illinois University he completed the Hmar New Testament.

Pudaite returned home in 1959, married a Hmar girl, and organized nine Christian schools. But the supply of funds did not keep abreast of his vast vision and the work he wanted to accomplish. He took his bride Mawii back to Wheaton and organized Partnership Mission under a board of local laymen. During the next twelve years the mission raised funds to support fifty-six more schools, including a high school and a college, a twenty-five-bed hospital, a “partnership parent” program caring for nearly 1,000 needy children, and 350 full-time national pastors and evangelists in India and Burma.

In 1971 Hmar leaders again pressed him to enter politics. This time he answered the call, but because of a flight delay en route he arrived two hours past the filing deadline. Back in Wheaton again he was praying about the future when the telephone-company slogan “Let your fingers do the walking” slipped into his mind. Thus was born “Bibles for the World,” the new name of the mission.

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“With this program God has given us,” comments Pudaite, “550,000 post offices become our mission stations and 4.5 million mailmen our messengers to deliver the Word of God. It is an idea whose time has come.”

Australia: Fight Truth Decay

Jesus people, bikers in leather, monks in brown garb, nuns in white, ministers in clerical collars—people of all ages and backgrounds were there. The placards they held aloft proclaimed such slogans as “Keep Australia Clean,” “Ban Porn,” and “Fight Truth Decay.” In all, more than 25,000 persons, a third of them teen-agers, gathered last month in Hyde Park, Sydney, for a witness rally sponsored by the Australian Festival of Light (FOL), an organization headed by evangelicals. The event was described as a witness against pornography and moral pollution and for wholesome family life and love for God.

It was the first time Catholic cardinal James D. Freeman and Anglican archbishop Marcus Loane shared a public platform. Relations between the two top churchmen had been somewhat strained. In 1970 Loane declined to participate in an ecumenical service when Pope Paul visited Sydney, and he later warned fellow Protestants to be on guard against “the ambitions of the Catholic Church.” The differences were not visible at the FOL rally, however. Both spoke briefly, condemning permissive attitudes and pornography (“a perverted and destructive presentation of human sexuality and inter-personal relationships,” said Freeman).

The main speaker was Anglican dean Lance Shilton. He urged Australians to demand that the nation’s political leaders announce their views on pornography, divorce, euthanasia, and abortion before elections. Votes would depend on right answers, he implied.

Other FOL rallies are planned for Melbourne and Adelaide.

Mount Ararat: Off Limits

The Turkish government last month announced a ban on travel by foreigners to Mount Ararat, which is located in a desolate region close to the Soviet border. All new maps printed by travel agencies are required to indicate Mount Ararat as an off-limits area for foreigners. No detailed explanation was given by authorities; the interior ministry merely cited problems caused by increasing numbers of foreigners wanting to climb the mountain “under varying pretenses.” It did not say what the pretenses were, but a number of teams of Americans and Europeans have recently climbed Ararat hoping to find Noah’s Ark, which they believe may be buried under the ice. Several teams, including one sponsored by the Institute of Creation Research in San Diego, had planned expeditions this summer.

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Turkey’s new head of the interior, Oguz Asiltürk, is a strict Muslim deputy of the religion-oriented National Salvation party, which constitutes the lesser right-wing segment of the otherwise leftist Turkish government. In other recent moves, Asiltürk ordered the removal of a modern statue of a nude woman in one of the squares of Istanbul and banned the sale of beer except in licensed taverns. Observers believe he’ll pursue further Islamic-oriented policies.

The intellectuals of the country are unhappy with the right-wing element of the government, but Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit needs it in order to govern. Ecevit, the leader of the leftist Republican People’s party, emerged from the last election with the highest number of deputies, but he lacked the absolute majority in the Parliament, and no party could form a new government for three months. Finally, Ecevit, whose party adheres to the tenet of a secular state, was compelled to form a strange coalition with the most extreme right-wing party. This brought a number of embarrassing developments to him (he’s an intellectual who translated T. S. Eliot into Turkish). The members of his cabinet hailing from the National Salvation party openly court Islamic state precepts in outright defiance of the constitution.

Religion In Transit

Among award-winners announced at last month’s annual meeting of the Religious Public Relations Council were William Wineke of the Wisconsin State Journal, Tom Harpur of the Toronto Star, and Kay Longcope of the Boston Globe. They and their papers were cited for excellent coverage of religion. Editor James Newton of the Southern Baptists’ World Mission Journal won the top citations in print and writing for persons in the religious press.

Still another report from Xenia, Ohio: Among those killed in the recent tornado disaster was Mrs. Ollie Grooms, a retired minister of the Churches of Christ in Christian Union. Destroyed were her home and the denomination’s church building in Xenia.

More than 200 Indiana religious leaders at an interfaith conference on the crisis in public morality last month acknowledged their own shortcomings, then pledged to marshal support back home for fifteen legislative and administrative proposals they submitted to the governor. “We admit our failure to apply fully in our personal lives and the structures and operations of our institutions those moral and ethical principles which stand as foundations of our faith,” they confessed.

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U. S. churches contributed $635,000 to the $2 million general administrative budget of the World Council of Churches last year. Nearly half that amount was given by the United Presbyterian Church and the United Methodist Church. Meanwhile, WCC leaders at a meeting of the WCC’s U. S. conference in Kansas City expressed disappointment over “a general ignorance” of what the WCC is. “Negative impressions last much longer than positive ones,” said U. S. leader Charles H. Long, Jr. Where there is information, he added, it is often misinformation.


TIM SPENCER, 65, writer of hit cowboy, country, and gospel music (“We’ve Got a Great Big Wonderful God”), founder of Manna Music publishing firm, and one of the original “Sons of the Pioneers”; in Los Angeles, after a long illness.

Greater Europe Mission, based in Wheaton, Illinois, last month observed its twenty-fifth anniversary. GEM has more than 160 career missionaries and nearly 200 short-term workers. Since 1949, when it was founded by Dr. Robert P. Evans, GEM has trained nearly 2,000 students in the seven Bible institutes it operates. It has ministries in ten western European nations.

Remember the Black Manifesto, the demand for reparations issued to white churches five years ago? It’s a forgotten episode among most U. S. churches, but not at Riverside Church in New York City, where James Forman interrupted worship on May 4, 1969, to demand reparations. The church responded with a Fund for Social Justice. It has raised more than $350,000 of a $450,000 goal for black self-help projects in New York.

The schism-torn Presbyterian Church in the U. S. (Southern) encountered more trouble last month. Four presbyteries (regional governing bodies) criticized PCUS moderator Charles E. S. Kraemer for not calling a special meeting of the national governing body. They wanted an emergency meeting to discuss controversial action by the denominational policy-making board involving the church in three national coalitions on government priorities (budget, military, and human needs). Kraemer says it may be discussed at the June General Assembly.


Retired: Joseph C. Dey, 66, respected commissioner of the Tournament Players Division of the Professional Golf Association and former executive director of the U. S. Golf Association. Known for his Bible reading and quoting, Dey is a trustee of the Episcopal General Seminary in New York and is an active layman in an Episcopal church on Long Island. One can have a valuable ministry through sports, he tells reporters.

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World Scene

South Korea’s seventh annual presidential prayer breakfast was held this month without the participation of some of the nation’s leading Christians; some boycotted it in protest against President Park Chung Hee’s alleged repressive policies, others were in prison for having protested earlier (nearly two dozen church leaders were reportedly in jail or interrogation centers). There was no mention at the breakfast of the church-government confrontation or arrests.

In a rare display of unity, the People’s Republic of China and the Soviet Union opposed the granting of United Nations consultative status to the Baptist World Alliance (BWA). Their protest was rejected. The Soviets complained the group was among those non-governmental organizations which have “small memberships and narrow spheres of interest” (there are 67 million Baptists worldwide). The Liberians reminded the Soviets that the late Liberian president William Tubman had been president of the BWA, adding that “church groups have done much work in education and health throughout Africa.”

Officials of the Overseas Missionary Fellowship were still trying early this month to contact two missionaries apparently abducted by guerrillas in southern Thailand. They are Margaret Morgan, 35, a British subject, and Minka Hanskamp, 30, of New Zealand. They were carrying medical supplies when kidnapped; authorities theorized the abductors wanted medical treatment by the women.

Thousands of Muslims marched last month in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, demanding equal rights for citizens of all faiths (about half of Ethiopia’s 26 million people are identified with the Ethiopian Orthodox Church, part of Coptic Christianity). Many thousands of Orthodox countered two days later with their own march, complaining that the Muslims showed an anti-Christian prejudice and asking church leaders to assert themselves against the Muslims.

A capacity crowd was on hand at the Quito, Ecuador, coliseum as evangelist Luis Palau concluded a three-week crusade (more than 3,100 made public professions of faith). Radio HCJB beamed the crusade live throughout South and Central America. In addition, Palau appeared on thirty-one telecasts. He was invited to visit Ecuador president Guillermo Roderiquez Lara and gave Lara a Spanish-version Living Bible.

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