In This Issue . . .
- One Great Hour in Iraq
- Double Cropping Efforts in North Korea
The Least of These
One Great Hour in Iraq
A former director of the Peace Corps -- an organization,
as you well know, modeled on our own Church of the Brethren
Volunteer Service (BVS)-- appealed to the world recently on
behalf of the people of Iraq. Unbelievably, "about 4,500
children under the age of five are dying every month in Iraq of
hunger or disease," she concluded.
Living conditions of ordinary Iraqi men, women and children
are deteriorating sharply. Member countries of the United
Nations have provided only $1.6 million of the $39.9 million
requested by the UN this fall to carry the organization's relief
$10 million was to directly provide essential childhood
medicines and food supplements for children. More than half of
Iraqi women and children are receiving less than 50 percent of
their daily, survival-level food requirements. At least 180,000
children were estimated to be in danger of starvation, in
addition to over 900,000 women, many of whom lost husbands in the
Gulf War. To make matters worse, Iraqi food production has
fallen by 30 percent in recent months.
This winter, Church World Service, through Church of the
Brethren efforts and others participating in One Great Hour of
Sharing, distributed $300,000 of food, medicine and even warm
blankets to devastated Iraqi families. It becomes increasingly
obvious that private efforts like One Great Hour of Sharing are
crucial to helping avert the even more widespread famine in Iraq.
Problems faced by Iraqis, particularly those in large cities
like Baghdad, are compounded by the crumbling of the country's
water and sewage system. Even moderately malnourished children
are at risk. The help we are giving, however, is greatly
affecting these people in the midst of their desperation.
Many of the medical supplies you provided through One Great
Hour of Sharing are literally giving the gift of life to these
men, women and children. One hospital where we sent simple
surgical sutures had canceled nine vital surgeries because there
was no way to proceed without them. Because of the sutures, the
surgeries could proceed, and many operations as simple as
Cesarean births are once again considered safe to perform.
"The Gospel calls us to share with people in need, in spite
of any political or social differences we might have," states Dr.
Rodney Page, Executive Director of Church World Service. "The
food, medicine and blankets sent by Christians in the United
States to the men and women of North Korea will bring significant
relief and healing to these hurting people."
Thank you so much for your participation in this year's
tremendous One Great Hour of Sharing efforts. In Iraq, in North
Korea, in Cuba, Afghanistan, the Dominican Republic, Argentina
and many other lands, your prayers and intervention on the behalf
of suffering people is making a real difference today, and will
continue to benefit the helpless and hurting far into the future!
We Are Going Where
The Need Is Greatest!
Double Cropping Efforts in North Korea
The plight of the people of North Korea has been much in the
news, and it's been much on the hearts of Church of the Brethren
members like you. An article in Time magazine recently reported
that U.S. Congressman Tony Hall, on a visit to the North Korean
interior, witnessed a teenage girl, who looked like a six- or
seven-year-old, picking weeds and grass for her family to eat.
In Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea since the 1950s,
where food is still available, rations for the bureaucracy
running the country have been reduced to between three and six
ounces of rice per day. Many factories have closed, and the rest
are operating at 25% of capacity. The city is without
electricity for many hours a day. And, as we reported recently
in a special letter sent to your home, many farmers are too weak
from hunger to harvest crops or plant seeds.
But we are continuing to come together as a denomination
against this terrible famine and the apparent hopelessness of the
situation. David Radcliff, Church of the Brethren director of
Denominational Peace Witness on the World Ministries Commission
staff, took stock of our effort on behalf of the Korean people:
"The barley seed we sent this winter to meet the immediate
need of devastating hunger should be ready for harvest right now.
And the large donation of canned beef sent from the Southern
Pennsylvania and Mid-Atlantic District Beef Canning Project
landed in North Korea in late spring, helping keep many men,
women and children from starvation."
Reports are that the beef was particularly vital to the very
young and very old members of the North Korean communities it
reached. "But our real hopes lie with the summer harvest of
American hybrid sweet corn seed sent to the country through
Church World Service in April," Radcliff went on to say.
When harvested, the specially-developed corn will feed more
than 300,000 families for over two months. The corn was selected
specifically for the North Korean climate through a partnership
between Dr. Kim Joo, a North Korean-born agronomist living in
Minneapolis, Minnesota, and Church World Service. The normally
grudging North Korean government has given its blessing to the
project, and made every effort to facilitate the crop-raising on
a special model farm, which brings state-of-the-art agricultural
techniques to the country for the first time.
In addition, through a special agreement, a percentage of
the seed will be given directly to private family farmers, who
can plant their own crops to feed their families and fellow
villagers directly. Every effort is also being made to assure
that the seed grain will get into the right hands where it can
have the most impact on the famine.
"This whole situation has created what I call an
'unfortunate opening' in a normally very secretive country.
Because of their plight, we are being allowed by North Korean
officials not only to bring in food and agricultural techniques,
but we also now have the opportunity to build bridges of trust
with these people. While many in the government resist movement
toward better relations, we have found some political leaders
open to a new way of relating," said Radcliff.
"North Koreans should know how much we as Christians care
about their welfare, about whether their children eat and are
healthy and well," Radcliff concluded. "They need to know that
people they consider enemies can show them compassion and give
assistance in their hour of need."
It's through your efforts that we've participated so
directly in this great task of bringing food and aid to North
Koreans. From our first food relief nearly two years ago to the
vital sweet corn effort this summer, your denomination is working
through you to bring help and love where it is most wanted,
spreading hope and Jesus' message "into all the world . . . to
the whole creation" (Mark 16:14 NRSV).
The Fields of the Lord
This spring, the United States government provided $25
million in food relief to North Korea, in addition to the 70,000
metric tons of grain sent into the famine-racked country by
China. But these figures only sound impressive: together, they
only help overcome five percent of North Korea's grain shortfall!
We must continue to reach out to our brothers and sisters in
North Korea throughout the summer and into the fall. Without the
support of volunteer efforts like ours, the famine will continue
to spread -- governments cannot and will not succeed on their
own. Together, we are attempting to overcome one of the worst
national famines in the Pacific Rim, what a spokesperson for the
United Nations has called a "major humanitarian disaster."
Through the support of individuals like you, we can provide
enough corn and other summer grains to see at least some of these
people through the dry months, and ensure their survival until
rice harvest in the fall. Frankly, without help from caring men
and women, many North Korean families will not survive another
Please continue to join with other Church of the Brethren
members as we continue to help provide food for hungry, helpless
North Korean men, women and children. Every day, we depend on
you as faithful members of our church to help us at the General
Board continue bringing the work of Jesus to the world.
Peacefully. Simply. Together.
Dear Friend of the Open Door,
Allow me to introduce my colleague and friend, Ken Neher,
whose name you will begin seeing at the bottom of this column in
The Open Door, as well as the letters we regularly send you from
the Church of the Brethren General Board here in Elgin, Illinois.
Many of you already know Ken from his position as a Planned
Giving Officer (Pacific) and District Executive for Oregon-
Washington. Ken will be assuming many of my former
responsibilities as the new Director of Funding for the General
After long consideration, the Board, actively seeking a new
direction for the fast-approaching millenium, voted to recommend
that Annual Conference approve policy changes needed to implement
a new design for its organization. Ken is a welcome addition to
the reorganized Board, and I trust that you will all extend to
him every courtesy you so graciously offered me.
Ken's background includes fundraising campaigns, camp and
congregational leadership and service. He has also shown a wide
experience in management, personnel direction, finance and public
relations as proprietor of two successful restaurants in the
Wenatchee, WA area.
As a Planned Giving Officer for our Church of the Brethren
General Board, Ken responded effectively to inquiries, followed
up leads and consulted with a wide variety of individuals and
groups concerning special and deferred gifts to the church. He
also assisted in coordinating the vital financial and estate
planning seminars the Board holds annually.
I have every confidence in Ken as an outstanding member of
our new General Board team, where he stands directly beside the
Executive Director as well as the seven other Directors. I look
forward to watching his success as well as the rest of the
Board's as they continue to guide us in our work for Jesus in a
faithful, active and peaceful way.
Many Church of the Brethren members are curious to know how
they can continue to benefit our denomination well beyond their
most productive financial years. We have prepared a brochure,
Planning Strategies: Which One is Best For You? that helps
explain a variety of planned giving, annuity and will strategies,
all of which can help continue our work in the world as well as
provide you with ongoing income. Call or write us to receive
your copy of Planning Strategies and to determine if you are
receiving the maximum benefits allowed by law.
Church of the Brethren General Board
Office of Planned Giving
1451 Dundee Avenue
Elgin, Illinois 60120
The Open Door is published by the Church of the Brethren, a non-profit religious and educational organization recognized by the Federal and State governments.
© 1997 Church of the Brethren General Board
Office of Planned Giving
1451 Dundee Avenue
Elgin, Illinois 60120
Telephone (800) 336-4413