Will work for food
Zaire's recent troubles force added burdens on mission agencies with workers in the central African nation. The Berean Mission, headquartered in St. Louis, is just one example. The mission has set up an emergency fund to help cope with extra expenses incurred since ethnic fighting reignited along the country's eastern border last fall. Medical supplies at the agency's forest mission near Katshungu ran out when over 600 refugees swelled the mission's hospital rolls (including a dozen Hutu babies born in the hospital). Guards had to be posted to protect buildings from looters. Stores of flour and rice were quickly exhausted when more than 200 orphans arrived at the mission station. Morale, however, is not exhausted, according to Berean's London spokesman, Terry Martin. The decision of missionary Jim Lindquist to remain at the forest mission, he told WORLD, "is an encouragement to the many national believers who staff and run the Maranatha Hospital at Katshungu station, as well as to nearby local leaders." Mr. Lindquist has remained safe but not idle. Corresponding with outsiders via radio and e-mail, he writes, "I dug latrines all along the front of the hospital wards areas and up on the Bible Institute hill." The station's ballfield, schools, and houses, he reported, have been surrounded with refugee shelters. Refugees have also taken to lodging with locals, called Balega or Mulega. "Got to give the Balega credit," said Mr. Lindquist. "They are generous people. Half the refugees are sleeping in somebody's house or lusu [shed]. If the [refugee] is really bad off and can't pay for the food the Mulega will likely give him some anyway. The Balega are getting all kinds of work done in return for food."
Kidnapped missionaries still alive
A Costa Rican news service reports that three American missionaries kidnapped by a Colombian guerrilla group are alive and being held somewhere in the country. That word came from Costa Rican Vice Chancellor Rodrigo Carreras, who has served as a mediator for talks between the guerrillas and the Colombian government. Mr. Carreras said that "guerrilla leaders have ensured that they are alive," and the Costa Rican government would continue to appeal for their release. The report is the first confirmation in two years that New Tribes Mission workers David Mankins, Mark Rich, and Richard Tenenoff are still being held. The men were kidnapped Jan. 31, 1993, in the Panamanian province of Darien, on the Colombian border. Contact with the guerrilla group holding them, known as the FARC, ceased after New Tribes said it would not pay a demanded ransom for their release.
Phoning home keeps getting easier. Planet One phone is the latest upper-atmosphere service for missionaries. "For less than $3,000," says Mission Aviation Fellowship's Paul Laye, "missionaries in the remotest areas of the world can communicate home." The Planet One, available through MAF, is the size and weight of a laptop computer. Its lid doubles as an antenna, beaming calls directly to a satellite and bypassing unreliable phone lines that plague many mission locales. Net2Phone is another service praised by missionary subscribers, who say they can make calls via computer to any phone over the internet. Transmission is good, they say, if not always as static-free as MaBell. Software is available on the World Wide Web (www.net2phone.com), and missionaries report calling the United States for as little as 10 cents a minute.
Forecast: Cold and dry
Winter is but half over in Irkutsk. The Russian town is just north of Mongolia and worlds away from the minds of Moscow politicians, who've decided to restrict utility services for many outlying cities this season. A missionary there said she'd been wearing wool for weeks when she was informed that the heat in her apartment building--and throughout Irkutsk--was coming on 20 days late. Water, too, is restricted throughout the city of 630,000, so she was surprised and thankful to receive hot water (it's turned off in many parts of Russia during summer months). Her language instructor, however, is not so well supplied. Just after her winter clothes were stolen, the tutor learned her dormitory would have no water for the winter because its utility payments to the government had not been kept up. "They have to carry buckets out to the nearest water pump on the street and haul water. That's not only for washing up, but the toilets don't have their normal water supply either," reports the missionary. Russia's energy crisis is said to be the result of bad management and corruption. In the Irkutsk region, for example, a coal-miners' strike was called when workers learned months of back wages had been embezzled by utility officials. Now the coal is expected to run out before the long winter does.