MISSIONARIES PREYING ON TSUNAMI SURVIVORS
24 January 2005
At least 234,000 people have been confirmed killed, thousands missing and millions displaced in several Asian countries in tidal waves triggered by a 9.0 magnitude undersea earthquake - the world’s biggest in 40 years - which struck deep in the Indian Ocean off the west coast of Indonesia’s Sumatra Island on 26th December 2004.
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Tsunami - An Opportunity To Convert
Whilst much of the aid coming from around the world is purely humanitarian and unconditional, many aid workers have been alarmed at how some of the American aid is being channelled through missionary organisations like Southern Baptists' International Mission Board, WorldHelp, Samaritan's Purse, and Gospel for Asia, which see the tsunami as a rare opportunity to make converts in hard-to-reach areas. InterAction, the largest alliance of U.S. based ngo organizations, reports that of its 55 member agencies providing tsunami aid, 22 are faith-based.
In Krabi, Thailand, a Southern Baptist church had been "praying for a way to make inroads" with a particular ethnic group of fishermen without much success, according to Southern Baptist relief coordinator Pat Julian. Then came the tsunami, "a phenomenal opportunity" to provide ministry and care, Julian told the Baptist Press news service, and added "We need to get past the death toll and get focused on the living -- because that's where our ministry is going to be."
Samaritan's Purse, which is approved by the White House as a humanitarian organization for tsunami relief donations, are working with an American missionary Pastor Dayalan Sanders who has set up base in Sri Lanka, giving him "an opportunity to reach out to his neighbors, mostly Hindus". Head of Samaritan's Purse, Franklin Graham who considers Hindus as being "bound by Satan's power" and Islam as "a very wicked and evil religion" explains “We’ve come to help in the Name of the Lord Jesus Christ.”
One missionary interviewed by the Telegraph newspaper, who didn't want his surname revealed, was candid about why he was in Banda Aceh (Indonesia):
Sponsor A Missionary
"This (disaster) is one of the greatest opportunities God has given us to share his love with people," said K.P. Yohannan, president of the Texas-based Gospel for Asia.
Their activity in the tsunami hit area of Tamil Nadu (India) have drawn sharp criticism from local officials. In Akkaraipettai, Gospel for Asia and Believers Church have set up an orphanage without the knowledge of the government, said Suriyakala, the district's social welfare officer. 108 children, mainly Hindus have been taken to the orphanage and are told to recite Christian prayers six times a day. "As soon as we get up, we pray," said a 13 year old Hindu child Rajavalli. The church officials claim "We did not take the children", but recruited them from the relief camps. They also denied giving out Bibles in the relief camps and villages even though they were caught giving out Tamil-language Bibles to the refugees.
Gospel for Asia is seeking to train and send 100,000 native missionaries into the most unreached areas of Asia. Their website boasts of planting over 10 churches every day.
They run a "sponsor a missionary" scheme where $30 a month buys an indigenous missionary working covertly among non-Christian communities. The FAQ for sponsors states that a sponsored missionaries cannot receive letters from their sponsor as that might blow their cover:
Gospel for Asia has set up a special ministry to convert Muslims. They offer specific training for working among Muslims, and provide radio broadcasts in Bengali, Dari and Pashto - targeting the Muslims of India, Bangladesh and Afghanistan.
Indian Villages Replaced By Christian Communities
In Andhra Pradesh, India, a plan is developing to build "Christian communities" to replace destroyed seashore villages. In a dispatch that the evangelical group Focus on the Family posted on its Family.org Web site, James Rebbavarapu of India Christian Ministries said a team of U.S. engineers had agreed to help design villages of up to 400 homes each, "with a church building in the center of them."
The same dispatch mention how aid is passed out at the discretion of their pastors - 50 pastors are drawing up lists of those families who will receive "an authorized form which will qualify them to collect their portion of food and clothing".
Abducting Muslim Orphans
Indonesia, the world's most populous Muslim country, lost well over 170,000 people to the killer sea surges. The Indonesian government estimated that 35,000 children have been made homeless, orphaned or separated from their parents in Aceh, where Muslims make up 98 percent of the population.
Jan Egeland, the UN undersecretary for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordination, has highlighted that “There is a big and consistent rumor that children orphans are now systematically adopted, kidnapped, taken away to be Christianized in the West. It is happening but they are isolated cases but we need to stop it immediately.”
Subsequently it was exposed in the Washington Post that WorldHelp, an American missionary group, abducted 300 Muslim tsunami orphans from the province of Aceh and plans to raise them as Christians with the aim of one day returning them back to Aceh as Christians missionaries to convert the Muslim population.
The Rev. Vernon Brewer, president of WorldHelp, initially claimed that the Indonesian government has given him permission to take the children and that he had "explicitly" told them that the children would be raised as Christians - these claims were later proved to be lies.
WorldHelp is based in Virginia : 1148 Corporate Park Drive, Forest, VA 24551. It was founded in 1991 by Rev. Vernon Brewer and now have missionary bases in 50 countries. Their collaborators in this abduction were local missionaries Henry and Roy Lanting, a father-son team who run a Bible school in Manadol. Henry, 59, received his missionary training at Dallas Theological Seminary, and his son Roy, 27, is a U.S. citizen and graduated from Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.
And their website also talks of other countries:
Their other projects include "Bibles for Iraq"- under the guise of humanitarian relief they enter Iraq to distribute Arabic bibles. They have missionary teams in Jordan and Egypt working on the project. Brewer sees Iraq as a spiritual war with Muslims cast as Satan:
On their website they are urging people to donate quickly before the elections come:
Food In One Hand... Bible In The Other
Many groups are exploiting peoples need for food and water as a means to distribute bible tracts and other missionary texts. Colorado Springs-based Focus on the Family include excerpts from a Christian book written by Dobson, founder of the influential media ministry, in 300,000 survival packets bound for the region.
The American Tract Society has released the new Gospel tracts entitled "When Disaster Strikes" for donation to Victims Relief Ministries who are sending more than 200 workers to Sri Lanka. The leaflets to be distributed to tsunami survivors tell them to prepare for death. The tracts, which describe in detail famous disasters and tragedies from around the world, suggest that people can only be 'saved' if they confess their sins and accept Jesus as their lord and saviour.
Bible In One Hand.. Other Hand Empty
In Sri Lanka one American missionary group - Antioch Community Church from Waco, Texas, have even angered local Christian leaders by their overt proselytizing. Relief camp residents have complained that these Americans have staged plays on Jesus and got their children to draw pictures of him, they have held group prayers where they tried to heal a partly paralyzed man and a deaf 12 year-old girl.
The Rev. Duleep Fernando, a Methodist minister based in Colombo, brought the Americans to the camp here. Mr. Fernando said they had described themselves as humanitarian aid workers. He and other Sri Lankan Christian leaders say raising religion with traumatized refugees is unethical.
They were part of a larger group of missionaries who were caught in Afghanistan by the Taliban. The group were distributing Persian language Bibles and Pashtu-language children's books about the life of Jesus Christ. There were several slides depicting the life of Christ. They showed flash cards for learning the Bible in local languages and the Jesus Film on dvd. One of the groups were caught using Bibles to teach English. They ran extensive English-language classes for Afghans throughout the country. After their release Dayna Curry and Heather Mercer admitted to proselytizing and said if given the chance they would do it again. They where warmly received by President Bush who referred to them as "courageous souls".
The Jesus Film website describes how their co-ordinators for the middle east, John and Ashli, organized a small delegation of western women to go to Afghanistan to convert Afghans by showing the “JESUS” film, which is available in 887 languages, to people who have never seen a television:
Convert Or Starve
The India News reported on 16 Jan 2005, that Christian missionaries refused aid to a Hindu village devastated by the tsunami because they did not agree to convert to Christianity:
[India News]: Samanthapettai, Jan 16 : Rage and fury has gripped this tsunami-hit tiny Hindu village in India's southern Tamil Nadu after a group of Christian missionaries allegedly refused them aid for not agreeing to follow their religion.
Samanthapettai, near the temple town of Madurai, faced near devastation on the December 26 when massive tidal waves wiped it clean of homes and lives.
Director Of Crusades Heads Tsunami Team
On January 12, a confidential email from the hate monger Jerry Falwell, who previously called the Prophet Muhammad a "terrorist" and is currently Chancellor of Virginia-based Liberty University, revealed a secret missionary agenda behind a plea for donations to support relief work in tsunami hit countries.
According to the email, Liberty University's "Director of International Crusades" will head a team sent to the region to distribute relief supplies. "In addition we will be presenting the Gospel to tens of thousands of persons through distribution of Gospel tracts written in the native languages of the area. Our ultimate purpose for this first mission is to set the stage for many other missions trips to this Asian region by hundreds of Liberty students in the months to come," said the email.
The U.S. government has said it hopes American tsunami aid improves its image abroad, particularly with Muslims. Yet when asked about the missionary hordes unleashed on the tsunami survivors, State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said "We can't control them, they are free to do what they're going to do.". Many observers see this as yet another facet of American imperialism and empire building.
"When the missionaries came to Africa
Bishop Desmond Tutu
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