Joy outweighed sadness at the funeral service for Joe Bayly, who died July 16 at age 66 in Rochester, Minnesota, of complications following heart surgery. Friends and family recalled the laughter he inspired. A practical joker, Bayly once removed his wife’s Thanksgiving turkey from the oven and replaced it with a cornish hen.

Said James Reapsome, executive director of Evangelical Missions Information Service and a close friend of Bayly’s for 40 years, “Joe taught many people a shocking truth—that it was possible to be a dedicated Christian and to have fun at the same time.”

Bayly made his mark in the Christian world primarily as a writer and lecturer. He authored more than ten books, wrote a column for Eternity magazine for 25 years, edited His magazine from 1952 to 1960, and was serving as president of the David C. Cook Publishing Company at the time of his death.

Those close to Bayly said they will remember him most as a friend of the common man, as one unimpressed by pomp. Bayly went out of his way to befriend others, regardless of their station in life. For several years he conducted a Bible study in a nursing home.

Bayly was at his best when he was telling stories. (His third-grade teacher once had to leave the room on an errand and asked him to tell stories until she returned.) One of his most popular stories was The Gospel Blimp, a humorous satire of American evangelism, first published in 1960.

Said Kenneth Taylor, author of The Living Bible paraphrase, “Joe was not afraid to rebuke the church when it was needed. Yet he did it with a great deal of kindness.” Added Reapsome, “He had the uncanny knack of driving home a deadly serious point, and then easing the tension with a story.”

Having lost three sons—an infant to cystic fibrosis, a 5-year-old to leukemia, and a 19-year-old with hemophilia to a sledding accident—Bayly was well acquainted with grief. Through his writings, speeches, and personal contacts, he became an invaluable resource to those facing similar losses.

“Joe never became a martyr,” Reapsome said. “He never implied, ‘Look at me. See how much I’ve suffered.’ I always respected him for that.”

Moments after his 5-year-old died of leukemia, Bayly was in an elevator with a nurse who had cared for the boy. She broke an uneasy silence by saying, “I wish I could say something that would help ease your pain.” Bayly replied, “You just did.”



An Embassy in Jerusalem?

A number of Christian groups helped resist a proposal in Congress that opponents said would lay the groundwork for moving the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

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The proposal was introduced by U.S. Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.) as an amendment to the Diplomatic Security and Anti-Terrorism Bill. The bill was passed last month without the amendment, which proposed funds to build a U.S. “chancery and residence” in Jerusalem, within five miles of the building where the Israeli Parliament meets.

Critics said the amendment would have been the first step in moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. They said moving the embassy would imply U.S. government recognition of Jerusalem as the official capital of the Jewish state.

Ray Bakke, professor of ministry at Northern Baptist Theological Seminary and urban coordinator for the Lausanne Committee on World Evangelization, said the move would be “contrary to U.S. policy and would jeopardize Christian missions” in the area. Bakke, who testified against a similar proposal in 1984, said moving the embassy to Jerusalem would be “disastrous to missionaries in the Islamic world [who are] working to build reconciliation with Muslims.”


A New Attitude

Cuban leader Fidel Castro’s book Fidel and Religion is a best seller in Cuba, having sold more than 600,000 copies. Some say the book’s mere existence reflects change in Cuba’s religious scene.

Christians were targeted for persecution after the Cuban revolution. In 1959, about 15 percent of all Cubans attended mass regularly; today the figure is at 1 percent. Many observers say visits to Cuba by Jesse Jackson in 1984 and a delegation of Catholic bishops in 1985 planted the seeds of change in the government’s view on religion.

In his book, Castro said he regretted Cuba’s “subtle discrimination” against Christians. Last year he met with Catholic and Protestant leaders, the first such meetings in more than two decades.

Observers say Castro regards closer ties with the Roman Catholic Church as one way to extend his influence throughout Latin America. Jose Felipe Corneado, director of the Communist party’s Office of Religious Affairs, said Cuba’s new official attitude is that “Christians won’t be free without socialism, and socialism won’t be built on this continent without Christians.”


Untouchable Christians

A delegation of Roman Catholics has appealed to officials in the Indian state of Kerala to take steps toward allowing “untouchables” who have converted to Christianity to once again receive government aid.

Last September, India’s highest court declared untouchable Christians ineligible for such aid. The court reasoned that Christianity does not observe Hindu caste laws and that the sole criterion for receiving aid is untouchability, a concept confined to Hinduism. The Catholic delegation, headed by Archbishop Benedict Mar Gregorios, informed Kerala officials of government studies showing that untouchables suffer the same social and economic hardships whether or not they are Christians.

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The Sanction Debate

The U.S. Catholic Conference, the social-action arm of the nation’s Catholic bishops, has endorsed limited economic sanctions against the government of South Africa.

In a letter to U.S. senators, the church agency said that if there is no significant progress in abolishing apartheid by January, the United States should impose limited sanctions on South Africa’s white majority government. Proposed steps include bans on new commercial investments and the importation of coal.

In related developments, a report in the Baltimore Jewish Times indicates that South Africa’s Jewish leaders oppose international economic sanctions. Israeli journalist Charley J. Levine writes that South Africa’s 110,000-member Jewish community is united in opposing sanctions against the nation.

Also, an influential black Episcopal bishop recently launched a campaign to increase U.S. corporate involvement in South Africa. Bishop John Walker, of Washington, D.C., maintains that penalizing U.S. businesses operating in South Africa is not the answer. He does, however, urge U.S. companies to violate South Africa’s apartheid laws in order to test them in court. Walker also encourages corporations to focus on training blacks to assume economic, social, and political leadership.


Counting the Cost

Several children and teenagers in the West African village of Kotoura, Burkina Faso, recently had to choose between following Christ and remaining in their families.

Conversions to Christianity began in Kotoura about three years ago, largely through the work of Mennonite linguistic missionaries. A witnessing fellowship developed among youth, and village leaders eventually determined these young people would have to renounce Christianity in order to stay with their families. Most of the villagers practice traditional religions.

Three teenagers left Kotoura for the Ivory Coast, where they hope to find work. Younger children remained with their families, where their Christian beliefs will likely be suppressed.

In some African cultures, personal identity and significance are closely related to the extended family, making it difficult for family members to express differing religious beliefs. Mennonite worker Gail Wiebe said Christians in Kotoura fear they will be targets of sorcery.

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