Rios Montt massacred 60,000 Maya Indians in 1982-83. He just lost a bid for Guatemalas' presidency.
Group Watch: Gospel Outreach/Verbo Ministries
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See also: Directory of Right-Wing Groups GroupWatch: Profiles of U. S. Private Organizations and Churches, was compiled by the Interhemispheric Resource Center, Box 4506, Albuquerque, NM 87196. http://www.irc-online.org/ > Their work focused on issues related to U. S. foreign policy in Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. Note that this collection includes a wide range of groups with a variety of political viewpoints. Some, like the Heifer Project, appear to be what they seem-engaged in charitable humanitarian efforts. Check when each article was last updated as much material is no longer current. This material is provided as a source for historic research.
Carlos Ramirez, co-founder and director, Linda Ramirez, co-founder, Verbo Ministries. (16,18) Jim Durkin (pres), Joseph Anfuso, Rodolfo Bianch, James Jankowiak (dir BR), Efrain Rios Montt (elder). (1,2,3)
Gospel Outreach is an evangelical Pentecostal church with headquarters in Eureka, California and Guatemala. It grew out of the "Jesus People" movement of the 1960s in the United States. Jim Durkin and Joseph Anfuso are among its founders. (1) According to Sara Diamond, a researcher on the Religious Right, Gospel Outreach practices a moderate form of shepherding because its literature emphasizes "commitment," "covenant relationship," and "spiritual authority. "(2) It is an evangelical organization that believes the Bible is the Word of God and that the authority of government is ordained by God. (3)
Under Mr. Durkin's direction the basic precepts of GospelOutreach evolved: "unquestioned acceptance of the Bible as the literal word of God; a missionary responsibility to reach out and carry the word to others; a decentralized structure with autonomous congregations and little distinction between clergy and laity; strong emphasis on family ties, and a pentecostal liturgy which includes the practice of speaking in tongues. "(3)
BR, CR, EC, ES, FR, GE, GT, IT, NI, SP, US. Activities:
Gospel Outreach is a nondenominational missionary agency of charismatic tradition engaged in church planting, Christian education, missionary orientation and training. (4) Gospel Outreach and its Latin American affiliates, Verbo churches and Verbo Ministries, are promoting an extensive church planting ministry and a relief-educational program in Guatemala, Nicaragua, El Salvador, and throughout Latin America. (8,17)) Most recently Verbo reported that in Monterrey, Mexico a "large church with seven satellite outreaches" joined Verbo Ministries. (18) International Love Lift Foundation, a social assistance project of Gospel Outreach based in Guatemala, supports several projects throughout Central and South America such as the Foundation for Aid to Indian People (FUNDAPI), the Foundation for the Protection of Orphan Children (Casa Bernabe), "Amor Project," (Medical aid), and Verbo Schools. (8) Verbo Ministries also runs several schools of evangelism and has a Master Plan of evangelism directed to convert the Latin American continent for Christ. It publishes ESTHER, a Spanish-language Christian magazine for women. (8)
Guatemala: After the 1976 earthquake, 28 Gospel Outreach evangelicals from California arrived in Guatemala to help rebuild the country and establish El Verbo church. (1) Since its arrival in Guatemala El Verbo has been involved in rebuilding earthquake-damaged infrastructure, building housing, establishing "Christian" schools and establishing Casa Barnabe, an orphanage. (16) In March 1991 Verbo doctor, Mario Bolanos, opened the first Christian hospital in Guatemala. (16)
An early convert was General Efrain Rios Montt, who became president after a military coup in March 1982. (1) Hap Brooks, a preacher from Florida, hailed the coup as "the greatest miracle of the twentieth century, formed in heaven before it was formed on earth. "(5) Efrain Rios Montt and his supporters expected to turn Verbo Churches into a new political movement. Rios Montt announced that his movement would "moralize national life from the top down. "(13) According to Deborah Huntington, a researcher on the Religious Right, during the Rios Montt counterinsurgency campaign "Gospel Outreach and the Verbo Ministries were valuable allies of the military. Verbo members became the preferred liaison between the army and the local community, leading civil defense patrols and weeding out guerrilla sympathizers. "(5) "The experience of a born-again Christian shepherding an entire nation reinforced the notion that they could seize their vision of the Kingdom of God on earth. "(5) According to sociologist David Stoll, Verbo Ministries organized FUNDAPI together with the Behrhorst Clinic, and Wycliffe Bible Translators in 1982. (13) FUNDAPI's purposes were to provide food, medicine, clothing, shelter and tools to Indian refugees and "restrain the army from crimes" which "FUNDAPI staffers knew the army was still committing. "(13) However, in many cases, FUNDAPI declared that assassinations had been perpetrated by guerrillas "who wanted to discredit the new president. "(13) FUNDAPI expended a lot of time and energy on denying the army's massacres. (13)
According to the Latin American Institute of Transnational Studies, "Within the first nine months of Rios Montt's administration, 12 evangelical pastors were assassinated; 69 were kidnapped; 45 disappeared; 15 were jailed; 11 foreign missionaries were expelled; 88 evangelical temples were destroyed; and 50 more were occupied by the Army. "(7) By 1986, Verbo Ministries reported 250 congregations. (15) Verbo Ministries also runs a Leadership Training School with over 1000 members directed by Rios Montt himself. (7)
A recent article in Now, a progressive Canadian monthlymagazine, reported that El Verbo has 250 congregations in Guatemala. (19)
Nicaragua: Verbo Ministries has been in Nicaragua since September of 1979. Supervised by Bob Trolese, Verbo churches in Nicaragua have constructed housing and water projects as well as opening schools and orphanages. (9) They also have a discipleship center located on a farm of several acres. (9) "Project Manna," a combined effort of Verbo Ministries and Park West Children's Fund has been active in Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Guatemala. In May 1991, the ship "Spirit" brought its second 4000-ton shipment of food and supplies to Nicaragua before moving on to deliver another 1000 tons of supplies to Guatemala. While the ship was in port, Carlos Ramirez, Don Tipton, Pepe Garces, and Bob Trolese of Verbo held an audience with Nicaraguan president Violeta Chamorro and her staff. (16) El Verbo has also established a Casa Barnabe orphanage in Nicaragua, which specializes in arranging foreign adoption of Nicaraguan orphans. (16) Verbo has a Christian school in Puerto Cabezas, Nicaragua. (16) Verbo has expanded its church-planting operations to Bluefields, Nicaragua. (18)
To the dismay of Guatemalan refugees in Canada, El Verboannounced plans to begin operations in Toronto in early 1991. (19)
Bible Literature International of Ohio supported the Verbo church campaign called "Operation Whole Armor" which put a copy of the New Testament in the hands of 70,000 military personnel, civil patrol members, and police officers. (6)
Since the Ixil Triangle counterinsurgency operation started, Verbo Ministries has worked among Indian refugees with Wycliffe Bible Translators, the Behrhorst Clinic, Globe Missionary Evangelism, and World Vision. (10,13,14)
Rios Montt has been supported by Pat Robertson (Christian Broadcasting Network), Jerry Falwell (Moral Majority, Thomas Road Baptist Church, Liberty Federation), and Loren Cunningham (Youth with a Mission). (2) They have worked with the Florida Cuban community. (2)
The Love Lift School of Evangelism is directed by Christian Equippers Intl of South Lake Tahoe, California (headed by Francis Anfuso, Joseph's brother). (2)
Jimmy Swaggart Ministries has provided financial support for the schools of El Verbo in Guatemala. This is done under the "Programa Ayuda Infantile," a branch of the Swaggart ministry. (19,20)
Gospel Outreach denies it has political goals in Central America. (3) According to its literature, Verbo schools are "an alternative to secular schools which promote secular humanism. "(11) They say: "We must teach and reinforce in children that God does not change, that there are absolute principles and truths. "(12) According to Carlos Ramirez, director of Verbo Ministries for Guatemala, the Ixil Triangle
counterinsurgency operations destroyed about 17 of the 22 villages of the Ixil people. (14)
U. S. Address: Gospel Outreach, P. O. Box Z, Eureka, CA 95501/ Verbo Ministries, Apartado Postal 2621 Guatemala, Centro America.
Verbo Ministries, 980 S. W. 82nd Ave, Miami, FL 33144.
1. The Resource Center, Private Organizations with U. S. Connections: Guatemala, July 1988. 2. Sara Diamond, "Shepherding," Covert Action Information Bulletin, #27, Spring 1987.
3. Robert Lindsey, "Church Denies It Has Political Goals in Guatemala," The New York Times, Aug 14, 1983.
4. Samuel Wilson and John Siewert, eds. , Mission Handbook, (Monrovia, CA: Mission Advanced Research and Communication Center, 1986).
5. Deborah Huntington, "God's Saving Plan," NACLA/Report on the Americas, #1, Jan-Feb 1984.
6. Sara Diamond, "Holy Warriors," NACLA/Report on the Americas, #5, 1989.
7. Instituto Latinoamericano de Estudios Transnacionales, "Sects and Religion in Latin America," translated by Sara Diamond and quoted in her "Shepherding" article, Covert
Action Information Bulletin #27, Spring 1987.
8. International Love Lift, Front Line Report, vol 9, #6 undated.
9. Verbo Ministries, Front Line Report, vol 11, #6, undated. 10. Gospel Outreach, "Love Lift," brochure, undated.
11. Verbo Ministries, News Release, June 1987.
12. Verbo Ministries, Front Line Report, vol 12, #1, undated. 13. David Stoll, Is Latin America Turning Protestant? Studies in the Politics of Evangelical Growth, University of
14. Verbo Ministries, News Release, June 1988.
15. Interview with Richard Funnell, April 1987.
16. Verbo Ministries, Front Line Report, vol. 16, #1, May 1991. 17. Verbo Ministries, "Project Manna" brochure, undated, received 1991.
18. Verbo Ministries, Front Line Report, Oct-Dec 1990.
19. Howard Goldenthal, "Bibles, Ballots, and Bullets," NOW, Oct, 1990.
20. Presentando a Jimmy Swaggart, Jimmy Swaggart Ministries, n. d. , received Jan 5, 1989.
The underlying cites for this profile are now kept at Political Research Associates, (617) 666-5300.