From the Worldwide Faith News archives

ALC NEWS SERVICE Thu, 27 Feb 2003

From Worldwide Faith News <>
Date Thu, 27 Feb 2003 17:45:39 -0800

P.O. Box 14-225
Lima 14 Perz


COSTA RICA: Pastors call on Channel 23 Enlace to change its attitude
NICARAGUA: Protests when Catholic hierarchy and authorities deny raped girl 
the right
to an abortion.
GUATEMALA: Negotiations to put an end to strike begin with Catholic mediation
BRAZIL: Groups and individuals who stand out in the struggle for social 
justice are
CHILE: Bible translation for Gypsies


Pastors call on Channel 23 Enlace to change its attitude

SAN JOSE, February 20, 2003 (ALC). Three well-known pastors added their
voices to a petition the Federation of Baptist Associations of Costa Rica
and the National Union of Baptist Churches made earlier this month. The two
groups called on Costa Rican Evangelical Alliance Federation (FAEC) to take
a firm stance in the face of abuse committed by Channel 23 Enlace in the
name of Gospel and to demand respect for the Lord, his Word and Church.

Pastors Ricardo Salazar, Alberto Castro and Rolando Soto M said that it was
imperative that Channel 23 Enlace be exhorted to change its attitude. Enlace
holds so called "tele-marathon" funding drives. They invite viewers to sign
"a pact with God" through which they will receive the "blessings they need"
in exchange for a specific amount of money.

Enlace Channel 23's activities are an extension of the so-called "theology
of prosperity" which reduces conversion to the Gospel to obtaining economic
prosperity, setting aside the integral transformation of the individual
demanded by the Gospel.

As brothers in Christ, not as enemies, we are profoundly touched by the
clamor of many people who say "something must be done" about the arguments
this station uses, seen as purely materialist manipulation, said the letter
from the three pastors.

Salazar is a pastor of the Abundant Life Church, Castro is a pastor for the
Christian Praise Center and Soto Murillo is pastor at the International
Christian Center, which forms part of an International Network of Churches
with 19 congregations in 11 countries and three continents.

We have repeatedly "come across people moved by the words of one of the
preachers of a tele-marathon (on Channel 23 Enlace) who, in the face of an
urgent need to resolve a critical financial situation, donated a sum of
money confident that the situation would change 'by tomorrow at this time'
but it did not."

In the letter, they agree with the Baptists that it is necessary to do
something about Channel 23 Enlace's attitude. "We need to say that
Evangelicals do not share this point of view and practice. People need to
know that this line of thought and behavior does not represent us and we
feel that it is a manipulation of God's Word," they said.

The pastors called on FAEC to demand that Channel 23 Enlace "change its
attitude, and base its message on the Biblical principle that salvation,
holiness, miracles, unction, and God's blessing, among other gifts, are the
fruit of God's sovereign grace that we receive by faith."

In the face of these gifts, the letter adds, "we must give heartfelt thanks,
regardless of whether this gratitude is expressed verbally, in material
terms or in our attitudes. The benefits of faith cannot be obtained in
exchange for material goods."

They also propose asking Channel 23 Enlace to respect an agreement
established in 1997 when the channel was to state that the "programming does
not represent the official voice of the entire Evangelical people" during
its broadcasts.

They also called on all Churches and pastors to accept the Evangelical and
historic responsibility of speaking openly about a healthy and Biblical
interpretation of what God's provides and our practice of offering and
giving, to make public declarations about the issue.

The letter specifies that the "insistent and varied form of making viewers
believe that God's grace is "activated" by a financial donation is incorrect
and contradicts the Biblical and Christian doctrine preached by Evangelical

The need for resources to develop and sustain any ministry "cannot justify
the way Enlace carries out its marathons, which project an image of
Evangelicals with a materialistic interest in presenting the message and
marvelous grace of Jesus Christ."

Protests when Catholic hierarchy and authorities deny raped girl the right
to an abortion.

MANAGUA, February 20, 2003 (ALC). More than 100 people from different women'
s rights organizations in Nicaraguan protested a decision made by Health
Minister Lucia Salvo and Catholic Bishops to not grant "Rosa" a therapeutic
abortion, a nine-year-old girl pregnant as the result of a rape in Costa

The Si Mujer women's network published a statement condemning the Health
Ministry's attitude stating that the child and her parents' rights were

They also rejected a resolution from the Ministry of the Family that sought
to make the child a ward of the state.

According to the women's organizations, the Nicaraguan Constitution does not
stipulate an official religion and therefore the Catholic Church should not
intervene in decisions made by citizens, the State and its institutions.

Demonstrators demanded that the law be upheld as, according to Johnny
Jiminez, of the association of Men Against Violence, Nicaraguan legislation
contemplates therapeutic abortion in the case of rape or when the health of
the mother is in danger, or if the fetus presents severe deformities.

Magaly Quintana of the Feminist Collective said that there are religious
interests on the part of the Catholic Church to impede therapeutic abortion
despite the fact that "Rosa's" heath is in danger. She said that abortion is
not practiced in Costa Rica as it is not included in legislation.

She said that in the sexual and reproductive rights manual of the Ministry
of health states that "therapeutic abortion can be practice in the case of a
proven rape or if the pregnant women is in danger."

"The Children's Code is clear when it states that the life of the child
prevails in this case," said Quintana.

A medical board, responsible with evaluating the state of the girl's health,
said that the girl is in a no-win situation and her life is essentially in
the hands of her parents.

The ruling, drafted by specialists Maribel Muqoz, Luis Manuel Baltodano
Pirez y Girma Arias, was read by the secretary general of the Ministry of
Health,  Enrique Alvarado, and given to the legal representative of the
parents Sergio Garcma Quintero, the Ministry of the Family and the Human
Rights Prosecutor.

According to news reports, the child did receive an abortion at a private
clinic late in the week and was "recovering well."


Negotiations to put an end to strike begin with Catholic mediation

Guatemala City, Guatemala, Feb. 19 (ALC). Negotiations to put an end to a
strike on the part of public school teachers began today with the mediation
of the Archbishop of Guatemala Rodolfo Quezada. Teachers have been on strike
for nearly a month.

Finance Minister Eduardo Weymann, Education Minister Mario Torres and Labor
Minister Victor Moreira participated in the talks, as well as teacher
representatives from across the nation.

After a one-hour meeting with President Alfronso Portillo, Archbishop
Quezada announced that talks would resume Monday night. The prolonged strike
had reached an impasse when talks had broken down.

  "I trust in the good will of all parties. I believe that in a week at the
most we will have resolved this serious conflict," said Msgr. Quezada.

Prior to meeting with the president, the archbishop met with teachers
leaders. Joviel Acevedo said that they were calling on the government to
desist in firing all strikers and an increase in the Education budget. The
increase would be used for educational development (50 percent) and for a
salary raise for 89,000 workers in the sector.

They also demanded that the government renew the Educational Reform process
and improve teachers' working conditions. Leaders in the sector called on
the president to participate in the high level commission to seek a solution
to the conflict. Msgr. Quezada said, however, that government would be
represented by the three ministers.

"What we want is for Portillo to assume his responsibility in the
negotiations, to the contrary the only thing we can see is that there is no
will to solve the problem," said Moisis Fuentes, leader from the National
Teachers' Assembly.


Groups and individuals who stand out in the struggle for social justice are

Curitiba, Brazil, Feb. 17 (ALC).With the applause of more than 700
participates in the third "Let us Celebrate Together" festival, the Lutheran
Grassroots Pastoral (PPL in Spanish) granted the "Faith and Citizenship",
"Liberation Spirituality" and "Women and Gender Relations" awards.

The prices are awarded to individuals and groups who stand out for their
testimony of faith and their actions in favor of peace and justice according
to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Farmers Lori and Alfredo Muller of Palmitos in Santa Catarina received the
"Faith and Citizenship" prize for their participation in the struggle for
agrarian reform and social farmers' movements.

The "Liberation Spirituality" prize was granted to Pastor Josi Rude
Walzburger, of Novo Hamburgo, Rmo Grande do Sul. Walzburger has amyotrophic
sclerosis, an illness that weakens his muscles and has confined him to a
wheel chair. However, even in this condition he wrote his messages and
produced videos with the help of friends.

The "Women and Gender Relations" prize was awarded to migrant women who form
the Amazon Synod of the Evangelical Church of the Lutheran Confession of
Brazil (IECLB). These women had to struggle to survive and renew their
community concepts and faith in new situations, but they maintained the
dignity of the resistance, in search of better living conditions.

At the beginning of the event, celebrated February 5-8, in Mariscal Candido
Rondon in the state of Parana, delegations from across the nation poured
water from their places of origin into a water wheel in the gymnasium where
the event was being carried out.

The wheel and life are similar, said pastor Lothar Hoch, dean of the
Superior Theological School (EST), at the inauguration of the event. Both
operate in circles, they are in constant movement but can stop at any time.
When this happens, those which were moved by faith and love will have the
certainty of being with the Father, said Hoch.

Delegates also built a map of Brazil, placing themselves in their place of
origin. Later, they greeted visitors from Africa, Europe and Latin America.

The pastor president of the IECLB, Walter Altmann, emphasized the vocation
of the PPL for their social action at this time when the nation is mobilized
to combat hunger, according to a proposal made by President Luiz Inacio Lula
da Silva.

""We must have hope in the salvation of the world," said Altmann, referring
to the theme of the X Assembly of the Lutheran World Federation (LWF) that
will meet next July in the Canadian city of Winnipeg.

At the closure of the Let Us Celebrate Together, Pastor Manuel Nsumbo, of
the Evangelical Church in Angola, spoke about the situation in his country
and was impressed by the lack of information about Angola in Brazil, despite
the fact that both nations share the same official language: Portuguese.

Forty years of civil war have been devastating. In Angola there are half a
million mutilated people in a population of 12 million. More than 20 million
land mines were placed in the country, an average 1.5 mines per inhabitant.
Nearly half the population is illiterate, the cost of living is high and
salaries are extremely low, he said.

Nsumbo said that Churches have assumed the task of teaching forgiveness and
love and curing the bitterness of war. The war in Angola was encouraged by
two super powers during the Cold war: The United States and the Soviet
Union, thanks to the petroleum and diamonds found beneath its soil.

Oil is the reason why US President George Bush wants to overthrow, even with
the opposition of international public opinion, the government of Saddam
Hussein, said the pastor.

Among other things, farmer Leonildo Zang, of the Aguas Claras, Viamao in
Porto Alegre, spoke about genetically modified seed creating dependency on
multinational companies.
Meeting participants emphasized the importance of sowing "basic" seed that
can reproduce without the help of multinationals. The seeds, said
participants, are patrimony of humanity. Zang explained the Seed Bank,
proposed during the III Social World Forum, which will promote the exchange
of seeds among farmers in order to diversify crops.

Let us Celebrate Together included 31 workshops, on indigenous issues,
alternative farming to the grassroots reading of the Bible. PPL's aim is to
produce relationships of solidarity, demonstrating social and humanitarian

Bible translation for Gypsies

Santiago, Chile, Feb. 18 (ALC). An estimated 2,000 Evangelical gypsies live
in Chile, holding liturgies in their tents within their cultural tradition.
As a result, a group of experts are seeking to translate the Bible to

The Chilean Bible Society announced last Saturday that two gypsies, the
Nicolich Estevanovich brothers and an Evangelical preacher who dominates the
language will begin to translate the New Testament.

Work will take at least two years and the aim is translate the entire Bible
within five years.

Juan Josi Pinto, general secretary of the Chilean Bible Society told the
daily La Tercera that the idea is to take the text of the Bible to each of
the different peoples in the country, respecting their cultures and
traditions, as each have the right to use their own language.

Paraguayan Tito Lahaye, Biblical Society translation consultant for the
Southern Cone, said that "this material will be very important as in the
history of humanity the Sacred Scriptures have had a very positive effect on
forgotten and marginalized peoples."

He said that some 60 projects are underway in America to translate the Bible
into native languages.

Juan Nicolich Estevanovich, one of the gypsies who will translate the Bible
in to Romaine said that together with the 2,000 Evangelical gypsies there
are others who are Catholic or who practice other religions.

His brother Jorge said that God has always been present among the gypsies.
He said that the Bible translation will help increase the number of
believers and help combat drug addiction in the community.

Both explained that they discovered their faith when they found a
semi-destroyed Bible in the garbage. They eventually approached the Church
and today are active participants in evangelism.

The translation project will be accompanied by a literacy project to help
gypsies with less education learn to read and write.

In Chile there are currently portions of the Bible in Mapuche and Mapudungun
and work is underway to translate the Holy Scriptures into Rapanui, the
language of native indigenous people living on Easter Island. Portions of
the Bible have also been translated into Aymara and Quechua.

Elmas Apeleo, Son of the only Mapuche Anglican Bishop in the country,
Avelino Apeleo said that there are more than 30 Mapuche Anglican Churches
and 60 Evangelical Churches in the rural areas of the Novena Region.

  "The services are the same as the Chilean ones but we have introduced
praise in Mapudungun," he said.

The Rapanui have four Evangelical Churches on Easter Island and a pastor who
offers services.

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