Relief Chief Criticizes Cuts

Proposed cuts in federal aid to foreign development efforts for the poor and hungry are being questioned by a Christian relief expert. “In trying to remove the stuffing from the foreign aid turkey, both Congress and the administration have carved through the heart of vital programs for poor and hungry people,” said Bread for the World president David Beckmann.

Congress already has cut foreign aid by $1 billion in 1994, including more than $200 million in assistance to developing countries. The Clinton package would cut development assistance by another $160 million and could mean further cuts of 40 to 60 percent in 1995.

Bread for the World says the proposed legislation is potentially “the most important rewrite of foreign-aid policy since 1961.”

“The proposal doesn’t give clear priority to development in poor countries, and barely mentions the reduction of hunger and poverty as goals of these programs,” said Beckmann. “It’s Clintonomics at home, but Reaganomics abroad.”

Beckmann and others are worried that while aid to poor developing countries is getting the ax, aid to “richer nations like Israel and Egypt” remains the same.

Atheists Hearing and Believing

A new report confirms what evangelical missionaries have been saying for several years: Russians have found religion.

Twenty-two percent of respondents to the new study by the National Opinion Research Center at the University of Chicago said they once were atheists but that they now believe in God.

“St. Vladimir has routed Karl Marx,” sociologist Andrew Greeley said in his report.

The survey is being touted as the first comprehensive effort of its kind. The 3,000 persons studied had spent all their lives under socialist rule in which religion was banned.

David Barrett, editor of the World Christian Encyclopedia, calls it “one of the most enormous swings in the history of Christianity.”

Adds Greeley, “After the most serious attempt to obliterate religion in human history, [comes] the most dramatic religious revival in human history.”

A third of Russians under 25 polled indicated conversion to faith in God from atheism. And about 70 percent of those polled said they had high confidence in their Russian church leaders. Forty percent believe in miracles, 33 percent believe in heaven, and 30 percent believe in hell.

Government Limits Christian Activity

The Mongolian government has banned Christian involvement in government, any new missionary activity not approved by the government, and any teaching of Christianity outside churches or monasteries.

These and other new injunctions have disturbed the Mongolian Christian population, which has grown from near zero in 1990 to about 2,000 now (CT, May 17, 1993, p. 90).

“This new religious law is in conflict with the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and with the new Mongolian constitution, which guarantees freedom of religious faith and practice for all Mongolians,” David C. Cook Foundation senior vice president David Howard told CHRISTIANITY TODAY.

A recent letter of protest from Mongolian Christians to their government said: “We are concerned as we watch our country return sadly to the control system of the years under communism.”

In 1990, a new Mongolian New Testament was published, which has been instrumental in leading many to Christ. However, a Christian spokesperson said, “There is a deliberate attempt to curb the activities of Christian groups that put an emphasis on upright moral and ethical behavior.”

In Brief

After two years of negotiations, representatives of the Vatican and the Israeli government signed a 14-point agreement on December 30 in Jerusalem, providing for full diplomatic relations. The Jewish state had long sought recognition from the Roman Catholic Church, but the Vatican had balked, in part over concerns for its claims to holy sites in Jerusalem.

World Vision relief worker Domingos Muati was killed December 27 when the vehicle he and three other Angolan World Vision workers were riding in was attacked by AK-47 gunfire from three Angolan soldiers. Two of the World Vision workers, who were riding in daylight in a clearly marked World Vision vehicle, are recovering from wounds. The soldiers have been arrested and are awaiting trial.

• A 10-year-old Christian boy, accused of scribbling on a mosque wall and thus defaming Muhammad, is facing the death penalty in Pakistan. Salamat Masih’s lawyer maintains the charge was conjured by a prominent Muslim family whose son got in a fight with Masih over some pet pigeons. Masih spent more than six months in jail before posting bail. During his legal hearings, hundreds of Muslims shouted outside for him to be hanged for writing on the wall. Masih’s attorney says the boy cannot read or write.

Jacov Doukhonchenko, president of the Union of Evangelical Christians/Baptists of Ukraine (UECB), died December 20 in Kiev after a massive heart attack. He was 62. Doukhonchenko was also president of the Bible Society of Ukraine and pastor of the Central Baptist Church of Kiev, one of the largest Protestant churches in Ukraine.

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