Today many people do not put much stock in "Christian" tracts. They consider them an evangelism method from another century — a time when the printed word was a novel means of communication. There was one missionary tract, however, that started a fire that burns to this day. It will not be extinguished. Thousands are benefiting from the fruit that has blossomed as a result. It was 1962. Colonel Doner was a tender 13 years of age. A missionary to South Vietnam had written a tract describing how the godless Communists invaded missionary compounds and drove chopsticks into the children's ears so they could no longer hear their Christian teachers. Young Colonel, filled with horror and righteous anger, resolved to resist this evil with all of his might. Thus began his lifelong quest to restore righteousness, justice, and mercy to a world sorely lacking all three.
Later, as a young man, and years before it was fashionable to be politically involved and conservative, Colonel began organizing conservative Christian youth chapters on high school campuses. In the mid 1970s, when South Vietnam and Cambodia fell to the Communists, he was involved in sending aid to refugees in war zones.
A pinnacle of his activism came in 1978 when he co-founded Christian Voice, which quickly became the vanguard of the Christian Right. Colonel and his organization ushered in the glory days of American conservatism and the Christian Right. Ronald Reagan was the quintessential success of these efforts, a self-consciously conservative president, who, as Colonel wryly notes, ". . . immediately surrounded himself with moderates, technocrats, liberals of all shapes and sizes, astrologers, effete social climbers and assorted half wits. . . ."1
A mere eight years later, Colonel watched as the mighty Christian Right movement he spearheaded crashed and burned in the sea of political irrelevance.
Surveying the Crash Site
In April 1985, Colonel prepared to preach at a major church in the D. C. area. Emotionally and physically exhausted, spiritually spent, on his knees before God, he realized that he had nothing of real value to share with his listeners. His message was enthusiastically received, but as he left the pulpit, he vowed not to preach again until he had God's message — not his own — to share.
He walked away from the organization he had formed and the movement that had consumed the last ten years of his life. In 60s parlance, Colonel "dropped out." For two years he sought the Lord, studied the Scriptures, prayed and waited for the Lord's message, the Lord's direction. He sought the counsel of Christian leaders across the country, asking again and again, "Where did we go wrong? Where do we go from here? What would Christ have his people do? How do we keep from repeating the mistakes of the past?"
In March 1987, he and his new bride, Miriam, spent a week in the Northern California wilderness overlooking the stormy winter seas of the Pacific. Colonel desperately sought the Lord. Finally, the answer came. Colonel recalls the victory: "And then in a quiet but phenomenal way, God began leading me to Scriptures, dozens, then hundreds, all on service. I didn't understand why at the time, but I spent five solid hours taking notes on what I had read. Those notes later became the basis for a new vision birthed in my heart. . . . Finally I had the 'weapon' I so desired, the sword of truth to cut through the 'Church's' apathy and willful neglect of its duty. . . ."2
From Scripture and the example of Christ, Colonel learned that the true Kingdom man was the warrior servant/steward who became eyes to the blind, feet to the lame, and a father to the poor (Job 29:15-16). In fact, this revelation would later serve as the basis for a book (now half-completed): Rediscovering the Purpose, Passion, and Power of Godly Masculinity. He found in this Biblical concept the example that he and all people should aspire to.
Without Vision, the Christian Right Perished
However, the most immediate fruit of Colonel's sequestering himself was his profound analysis of the failure of the Christian Right, recounted in The Samaritan Strategy: A New Agenda for Christian Activism. It is an excellent book and should be read by all Christians — young, old, and in between. Home schooling parents should make it required reading for their children. Briefly, Colonel concludes that the Christian Right failed because it lacked vision — a cohesive platform that tells the world what Christians can do and hope to do for our country. In Colonel's words, "To many, it appeared that all the Christian Right had to offer was a negative/reactionary collage of 'don'ts' rather than a comprehensive and constructive agenda of 'dos.' Worse yet, most Christians could not understand how all the issues connected to each other."3 Colonel further points out that without a vision, there is no agenda, no direction, and "no effective mobilization of forces."4
(Note: Colonel's new Chalcedon monograph, The Late Great GOP and the Coming Realignment, is also must reading for all Christians who take their roles as citizens seriously and who want to avoid our faux pas of the 80s.)
With a Vision — WATCH OUT!
Having come to the understanding that a vision is essential for success in Christian endeavors, having committed to practicing what he had preached in The Samaritan Strategy — earning the right to community leadership (a key to discipling any nation) by serving our fellow man — Colonel established the International Church Relief Fund (ICRF). He developed criteria for discipling the nations. The criteria are as follows:
1. Spiritual Receptivity. Colonel was looking for countries that were desperately seeking Biblical answers for their day-to-day survival. This immediately bumped slick, self-centered, fat-filled America out of the running. Countries that had recently experienced national calamities — whether war, famine, drought, etc. — were the best candidates.
2. Friends in High Places. Here Colonel was looking for the acquiescence of the leaders of the country, if not their full support. The leaders in such countries as Zambia, Russia, Nicaragua, and others ravished by political, economic, or natural disaster are receptive to any and all help to meet the critical needs of a suffering populace. In Nicaragua, the Congress unanimously granted ICRF's affiliate FUNAD special tax-exempt status. Finally, leaders' openness to the gospel has resulted in many of Colonel's international board (Josue Lopez, Monte Wilson, Jay Dangers, Bill Mikler, and Mario Aviles) being able to spend time discipling them and teaching them specific Biblical answers to the problems they face as leaders.
3. Location, Location, Location. Following St. Paul's example, Colonel wanted to find nations that were strategically situated to influence their neighbors.
After assessing which nations fit the bill, Colonel and ICRF were able to begin implementing the Samaritan Strategy for discipling nations in the third millennium. Colonel soon saw that indeed the fields were white unto the harvest and, with Dr. Monte Wilson and Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, formed The Samaritan Group — twelve international relief and ministry organizations that share ICRF's view of the Kingdom. With ICRF as its flagship, The Samaritan Group organizations now pool their financial resources and ministry skills to achieve optimal effectiveness as they reconstruct nations receptive to the gospel message. There is no top-down, head-heavy bureaucracy here, no centralized mission compound from which the troops emerge. Rather, these organizations (spanning North and South America as well as Europe) coordinate their activities and funding to maximize each overseas opportunity. A chief goal of The Samaritan Group is to identify, train, and supply indigenous teams in each target country so that these teams can disciple their home nations.
Strong Families, Strong Nations
In each country that has faced political and economic collapse, or where natural disasters have occurred, the family — the essential unit of society — is the element that suffers most. To rebuild a healthy nation, healing and health must flow first to the families. Most often ministry begins with meeting the immediate health and nutrition needs by providing food, medical care, and community water systems to those suffering in a ravaged land; ICRF also provides vegetable seed so that families can grow their own food.
In addition to this "critical care," ICRF seeks to provide families with a steady source of food and income so they can become economically self-sufficient. This is accomplished through ICRF's microenterprise loan program. Loans of between $500 to $1,000 are provided to recipients to start a family business and move toward self-sufficiency.5 Recipients of the loans also undergo a training program in which they are taught Biblical principles of running a business, economics, accounting, and tithing. (In other words, all who received the loans are discipled!) In addition to tithing, they are encouraged to use a portion of their profits to help widows and orphans in their communities — advice which many have taken to heart. For example, one recipient of a microenterprise loan, a lady in Nicaragua, whose seamstress business has become very successful, has taken it upon herself to start a feeding program which feeds 50 homeless children each day.
A final and very important phase of this strategy is discipleship of leaders for each nation. Potential candidates are selected from the larger pool that receives the microenterprise loans. They are carefully screened and then attend a rigorous six-week program designed to prepare them for key positions in evangelism, discipleship, leadership and establishing mercy ministries in their communities.
Strong Future Families
One of the most tragic consequences of man-made or natural disasters and the destruction of families is literally millions of homeless children. God is, and thus his people should be, very concerned about these little children. They remain an important part of The Samaritan Group's ministry strategy. Today, thanks to the efforts of The Samaritan Group's international team, thousands of children worldwide are being loved, fed, cared for and educated by Christian caregivers. Because this ministry has spanned a generation, adult graduates of these programs and schools are moving into their cultures as productive citizens and establishing Christian families of their own, as well as beginning to disciple their own nations and moving into positions of leadership. For example, one successful businessman (the very first microenterprise loan recipient) has been appointed to a high office in Mexico.
It was during the late 80s when Colonel developed his mission strategy. After a decade of sowing, the reaping has begun. Below are a few of the firstfruits of what promises to be a full harvest.
For decades, Nicaragua was ravaged by oppressive, godless dictators and the devastation of civil war. Somoza, the Sandinistas, and the Contras took turns raping this Central American country until it seemed as though, like the Levite's concubine in Judges 19, there would be no life left and the dead body remaining cut into pieces. As Nicaragua suffered, and tens of thousands died, Americans expressed a variety of useless opinions. Many supported the Communists and shrieked "bloody murder" at any who opposed the Marxist hellhounds; others hailed the Contras as the democratic saviors of Central America. Then Americans stomped their feet in disgust, but could not look away as the Iran/Contra scandal effectively ended Reagan's support of the freedom fighters in Nicaragua.
Nevertheless, in a sovereign act of God, the Marxist yoke was broken. In 1990, Violeta Chamorro, a Christian conservative, was elected to the presidency of Nicaragua. Through Mario Aviles, a childhood friend of Mrs. Chamorro, ICRF had an open door to minister among the ruins of the second poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. With the extremely talented Mario as their spearhead, ICRF selected Nicaragua to be a prototype for The Samaritan Strategy.
Beginning with its unique microenterprise fund strategy, ICRF began to award small loans of $500 to $1000 to families so they could start businesses. By American standards, these small amounts seem too insignificant to be of help. However, in Nicaragua it is enough to open up a fruit or vegetable stand or buy a sewing machine and fabric to start a seamstress business. One seamstress became so profitable, she was able to buy twenty more machines and hire twenty more seamstresses with her profits. One recipient opened a pizzeria; a young man who knew the family also received a microenterprise loan to buy a motorcycle so he could deliver the pizzas! Recipients of these loans have obviously shown great resourcefulness and creativity in choosing their businesses.
Currently, in Nicaragua alone, these microenterprise loans have created over 300 new businesses. Each year the program grows exponentially, creating thousands of jobs. Some enterprises now employ as many as 20 or 30 people. Loans are paid back in six months with 99% of the recipients repaying the loans. The money is then loaned to other entrepreneurs.
Loan recipients are required to attend weekly meetings where they are taught ABCs of business and accounting and are discipled in the gospel and the law of God. Mario's staffers also visit the homes of the recipients, give on-site advice, and answer any questions the recipients have about making their businesses successful. Mario asks the loan recipients to make a commitment to take 10% of their profits and put them back into their community — by supporting orphanages medical clinics, and feeding the poor. The microenterprise program continues to generate 150 new businesses and 400 new jobs each year. Currently, the microenterprise loan program has a long waiting list and the Vice President of Nicaragua routinely calls Mario recommending individuals for consideration for a loan.
Having had the opportunity to get to know the loan recipients, Mario recruits the "cream of the crop" to enter into a more intensive leadership training program so that they can assume leadership roles in their local communities and country. Some of the men and women who have attended these weekly sessions now serve on the National Executive Committee of the Conservative Party of Nicaragua, one of the three major political parties. Mario is discipling two Supreme Court members, several members of Congress, and a half dozen other political leaders every week in his home.
ICRF's team has built a large orphanage in Nicaragua and is supporting a half dozen other orphanages and feeding centers throughout the country caring for approximately 500 children every day in addition to distributing massive amounts of food and medicine.
Proving Doner's thesis that in the right context service provides the sort of national recognition that simultaneously bestows credibility and opens numerous doors, President Chamorro not only commended the ICRF team but also wrote personal thank you letters to ICRF donors! The Nicaraguan Congress voted unanimously to give the charity exemption from all their normal taxes and custom fees. When ICRF built an orphanage out in the middle a former war zone, Mrs. Chamorro and three cabinet members dedicated it and the cabinet members stayed overnight in the orphanage since it was the finest building in an area with a population of over 100,000.
The Samaritan Strategy has captured the imagination of the entire country and opened the door for the gospel message. ICRF's lead man in Nicaragua, Mario Aviles has been asked several times to accept the vice presidential nomination for the Conservative Party. He has refused because he believes the work the Lord has called him to do in reconstructing his nation is more important than being elected Vice President!
With the help of Mario and The Samaritan Group team, Nicaragua has experienced four years of economic growth. However, generations of work remain to be done to reclaim all that the years of violence have destroyed.
For 30 years Rev. Josue Lopez labored to reclaim a garbage dump in Juarez, Mexico, which is one of the poorest and most dangerous cities in the country. His efforts have resulted in Hogar de Ninos Emmanuel, an impressive complex consisting of a 10,000-square foot orphanage which serves as home to over 100 children as well as a school, church, and a new 4,000-square foot medical clinic, surgery unit and dental clinic. In the early 1990s, R. J. Rushdoony and Colonel Doner dedicated the medical clinic. ICRF donated $50,000 to build the clinic and staff it, and a number of churches volunteered construction labor. In the years since the initial clinic was established, with additional funding from members of The Samaritan Group, it has expanded to boast a medical laboratory, first-rate surgery unit and dental facility.
The clinic donates medical care to 200 orphans and the poor. People from the surrounding community pay a modest fee for the clinic's services.
Josue's service to the children of Juarez has earned him an excellent reputation in Mexico. Today, he personally disciples 20 ministers from around the country, some hundreds of miles away from Juarez, and is also ministering to several congressmen in Mexico City.
ICRF has also established a small microenterprise program in Mexico. Almost a decade ago it loaned $2,000 to Jose, a graduate of the orphanage, so that he could establish a business. Today this young man operates an entire floor of the central marketplace in Juarez. He regularly donates to the orphanage and has formed a group of orphanage graduates called "Youth With a Vision." Youth With a Vision provides resources for the orphanage and its members also help by teaching classes there.
Jose now heads the Human Rights Commission for his state. The Human Rights Commission (HRC) is a powerful group composed of all evangelical denominations and organizations in Mexico. The Evangelicals, numbering in the millions, formed the HRC to monitor situations in which evangelicals' rights are impugned or they are discriminated against.
Once again The Samaritan Strategy demonstrates the effectiveness of earning leadership roles in society through service.
It is hard to comprehend the level of violence that has washed across Africa in one wave after another during this century as wicked dictators, Communists, Muslims, and tribal lords continue to kill millions of innocents. Recently, two terrorist car bombs exploded at two American embassies and civil war once again is destroying the Congo. The bloodshed has continued for decades. Africa will never know peace until she bows before the Peacemaker. Only the bravest of the brave dare travel there and proclaim this truth amidst the rubble, as they minister to the needy. Unfortunately, in an emasculated church such as exists today, there are not many Christian men who are that brave. But there are a few.
Peter Hammond is one. His Frontline Fellowship Ministries is regularly funded by ICRF and Germany's Giving Hands, both members of The Samaritan Group. The Chalcedon Report regularly publishes stories about Hammond's important work. In addition, there are many other projects funded by ICRF.
Operating from its impressive base in Kenya, ICRF has inaugurated extensive programs throughout this vast country.
ICRF supports children's homes, manages child-feeding programs in hunger-stricken areas, and provides life-saving immunizations to over 15,000 children every year.
ICRF also conducts many hygiene classes for mothers, instructing them in basic sanitation, nutrition and cleanliness. There is a strong emphasis on precautions necessary for the use of local water — 80% of which is unfit for consumption.
ICRF has also provided cash grants for well construction and water distribution systems in over 50 villages. This program alone has provided thousands of children and their families with clean, disease-free water. ICRF's clean water programs and immunization campaigns have spared the lives of thousands of children by protecting them from deadly diarrhea, cholera, and other life-threatening diseases. Often, ICRF provides clean water for Christian schools and assists the children who attend by providing food, as well.
ICRF's safe water program not only provided clean drinking water to villages in Kenya; it also made water available for irrigation. Community leaders suggested that ICRF assist families by providing vegetable seed and teaching families how to grow "kitchen gardens" to counter the severe malnutrition in the area. In the first year, 80% of the 2,500 participating families successfully started kitchen gardens that not only provided food for them but produce to sell. Working in partnership with Farming Systems Kenya, ICRF and Giving Hands continue to provide containers of seed to schools, farmers and families who are taught the nitty-gritty "how-to" of planting seeds and caring for the plants.
ICRF's educational programs increase literacy among disadvantaged children, increasing their rate of school attendance and helping prepare them for service. ICRF provides tuition so handicapped children can attend secondary school.
During a recent civil war, machete-wielding terrorists butchered hundreds of thousands of men, women and children. As these depraved, murdering cowards roamed across the land, the only warnings were screams in the night and shouts of "Run!" "Run!" In seconds, whole families were decimated — mercilessly slaughtered as horrified children watched. Terrified survivors told of seeing their mothers and sisters raped, hacked into pieces and beheaded. They watched as their fathers and brothers lay bleeding to death around them. Some hid underneath the bodies. Some, injured and bleeding, pretended to be dead. Some tried to outrun the hellhounds and never saw their families again. These deeply traumatized children do not know if they have any kin alive anywhere. Thus the devastation continues long after the blood has soaked into the earth and the rebel cowards have gone on their way. That's when Rosamund Carr, an 86 year-old widow who had lived in Rwanda for 40 years, saw these children and did the only thing she could. She turned part of her property into an orphanage for them. Now as an ICRFs project partner, she continues to care for the little ones who survived the slaughter, malnutrition and disease. She currently cares for over 90 orphans. Mrs. Carr says of the children, "All came to us in varying stages of traumatization. Their greatest needs, plus physical care, are for love. They need more caresses and hugs than most children and a feeling of security." For safety reasons the orphanage has been moved two times already but, thanks to ICRF, the children now have a safe place to call "home."
ICRF also initiated another orphanage in Rwanda called Mpore Orphanage. "Mpore" means "my deepest condolences for the tragedy in your life." Mpore cares for 60 orphans. Like Mrs. Carr, the staff and housemothers of Mpore have learned that these children need more than food and clothing — they need lots and lots of love. Mpore now provides the family love and support that the terrorist hordes tore away. The children help care for one another and help with chores such as cleaning, cooking, and sewing.
In addition to providing the "basic necessities," both orphanages provide the emotional and spiritual support the children need to heal the spirit as well. Strong educational programs prepare the children for the day when they will leave the orphanage home to establish families of their own.
In addition to the devastation of Idi Ammin in the 1970s, Uganda has been decimated by the AIDS virus. Unlike America whose AIDS epidemic is in large part the result of homosexual activity, Uganda's epidemic is a consequence of promiscuous heterosexual activity, contaminated blood banks, and contaminated dental instruments. As a result, an entire generation (ages 20 to 40) is being wiped out. The only ones remaining are grandparents (many of whom become infected caring for their dying children, and thus are also dying) and the surviving children. Out of a population of 10 million, 600,000 are orphans — a number expected to climb to 2 to 3 million in the next few years. One out of every 17 children in Uganda is an orphan, as compared to 1 out of every 1,000 in America.
In Uganda, ICRF partners with Jay Dangers, a committed Reconstructionist whose mission from God is to be a father to the fatherless and to train the fatherless to become fathers so they can disciple the nations. His goal is not to be a father like Robert Young in "Father Knows Best," but to be a father after the pattern of our Heavenly Father. To this end, he has established New Hope Uganda and a remarkable method of equipping the orphans there for life.
The first step in the process is to establish a family structure for the children. To this end, Jay houses six to eight children in a hut with a "Mom" and "Dad." Here the children learn the ins and outs of family life, and family government and family worship. They are taught to love and respect each member of the family unit and to work together at such household chores such as cooking and cleaning. Each family unit is given land which the children learn to cultivate; they also learn to trade the fruits and vegetables they produce for other varieties produced by other family units.
The New Hope Campus also houses a large school that provides elementary and secondary education as well as vocational training (both schools have been funded by the combined efforts of The Samaritan Group). When the new vocational training school was completed, the First Lady of Uganda (a Christian) came to dedicate it. Jay hopes to soon open a discipleship school for training young men and women and sending them throughout Africa.
Often the only chance (and a slim one at that) a family has for survival in Africa is to flee. Just get up and go. Take whatever you can carry and run for your life. Many perish in the exodus; the “lucky” ones end up in refugee camps across Africa where polluted water, disease and near starvation await them. As of May 17, 1998, the United Nations reported that there were 307,137 refugees in Western Tanzania alone while estimates of total refugees in Africa are almost 4 million.
The refugees arrive at the camps, naked or wearing tattered rags. They are hungry, thirsty and often sick, greatly weakened by the ordeal they have been through. Instead of hope, they find desolate conditions. Carsten Hobohm, M.D., manager of Giving Hands, toured Rwanda, Kenya, and Tanzania in the summer of 1998. He reported that in Tanzania, each person receives 350 grams (approximately 12 ounces) of corn meal per week (less than 2 ounces per day), Occasionally each one also gets a small amount of oil and beans. This is too much to starve on, but not enough to live on. Some of the children are so malnourished by the age of 13 that their hair turns gray or red.
To ease the suffering. The Samaritan Group members have helped send food, clothing, medical supplies and equipment into refugee camps in the Sudan, Rwanda, and Uganda. In Burundi and Tanzania supplies are being distributed by Giving Hands. While continuing to meet the immediate needs of the suffering, Dr. Hobohm looks to the future: “The immediate need is great but we must also address the future. The country lies in ruins, the most important social institutions are destroyed. That is why, together with the government and local churches. Giving Hands supports the rebuilding of medical stations and schools.”
Become Part of the Solution
Like many ministries The Samaritan Group and ICRF face severe financial challenges. Due to a combination of factors, income has dropped as needs and opportunities have expanded. To take their work to the next stage. Colonel estimates a need of a minimum of 100 new “silent business partners” who will donate $500 to $1,000 to ICRF’s small family business loan fund in Nicaragua. Each grant, loaned out and repaid every six months, can transform two desperate families every year into successful entrepreneurs employing and discipling another half dozen. Colonel reports that he is also looking for 1,000 new “child sponsors,” pointing out that for just $25 a month ICRF can meet a parentless child’s physical and emotional needs, and train them to disciple their community as well.
- Colonel V. Doner, “A Personal Word, Chalcedon Report, No. 352, November, 1994, 6.
- Colonel V. Doner, The Samaritan Strategy: A Neiu Agenda for Christian Activism (Brentwood, Tennessee, 1988), 109.
- ibid., 37.
- ibid., 39.
- Colonel notes that these loans are all paid back within six months, thus providing more funds for the loans.
- Susan Burns
Susan is the managing editor of the the Faith for All of Life magazine and the Chalcedon Report (bi-monthly newsletter). Susan has worked for Chalcedon since 1997. She lives in Virginia and is rather fond of animals, especially her many cats.