GroupWatch was compiled by the Interhemispheric Resource Center, Box 4506, Albuquerque, NM 87196. GroupWatch files are available at Group: Central American Mission (CAM International) File Name: cam.txt Last Updated: 7/90 Principals: Cyrus Ingerson Schofield, founder.(1) Category: Religious Background: Central American Mission (CAM) was organized in Dallas, Texas in 1890 by three real estate businessmen and their preacher, Cyrus Ingerson Schofield. Through his work with CAM Schofield became one of the intellectual fathers of the fundamentalist movement and a leader of the contemporary evangelical movement.(1) Another major figure in the early history of CAM was Cameron Townsend. Townsend--who introduced the concept of bringing the Bible to native people in their own languages--went on to found and head Wycliffe Bible Translators. He worked with CAM from 1917 through 1932.(1) CAM is a church planting, non-charismatic, nondenominational fundamentalist organization believing in the inerrancy of the Bible. Its mission is to establish indigenous churches where none exist and to assist existing churches.(2,3) Its doctrine is strongly anticommunist and looks upon material gain as a sign of God's favor.(1) It began operating in Costa Rica in 1890 and has since expanded into the other countries of Central America, Mexico, Spain and the southwestern states of the U.S.(2,4) CAM is considered to be a part of the second wave of Protestant development in Central America, following the first wave spearheaded by mainline denominations in the 19th century. After World War II, Central America experienced an influx of pentecostal evangelicals and many abandoned CAM as being too conservative. By the 1960s CAM adjusted its operations and began to work jointly with the pentecostal churches of the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association. Although CAM as an organization expressed discomfort with the religious right and the Reagan administration's activities in Central America in the 1980s, its field organizations expanded dramatically and in some war-torn areas CAM may have worked side-by-side with government agencies and troops within the countries of Central America.(5) CAM consists of a board of directors in the U.S. and a body of 300 missionaries working in the field. According to CAM it takes about 8 years of study, deputation, and language school to prepare a missionary for field work.(13) In each geographical area there is a field director and a field council to make decisions on a regional level, all subject to approval by the board of directors. Field directors are considered representatives of the board of directors.(3) CAM operates Bible institutes, seminaries, conference and camping centers, medical clinics and Christian grade schools.(4) Countries: CR, ES, GT, NI, PA, and US. Funding: CAM is funded by donations. Missionaries are expected to generate their own funding through contributions. All contributions received at CAM Center are considered contributions to the general organization unless specifically earmarked for a particular missionary.(3) CAM reports that it has 6,000 donors annually who contribute over $4 million annually.(13) Activities: The main activity of CAM is the work of individual missionaries with Spanish-speaking and Indian peoples to convert them to Christianity and establish indigenous churches. CAM also conducts evangelism, teaching, and pastoral counseling through radio and occasionally television. CAM owns radio station TGNA in Guatemala City and Radio Maya in rural Guatemala. CAM has a publishing center in Mexico that produces Christian literature and Bibles for distribution by missionaries.(2) CAM also publishes a quarterly bulletin which has a distribution of 29,000.(13) CAM missionaries provide in-depth theological education to indigenous people. Missionaries teach Sunday school classes and provide Bible training on site. Those who want more formal training attend CAM resident Bible institutes and seminaries. CAM also sponsors two Christian day schools for children of missionary families which provide education from grades 1-9. One school is located in Siguatepeque, Honduras and the second in Puebla, Mexico. High school education is offered through a correspondence course program through the University of Nebraska. CAM also cooperates with the Evangelical Christian Academy in Madrid, Spain.(2) For youth, CAM operates Christian camps and retreats and has groups active on college campuses.(2) El Salvador: The first CAM missionaries arrived in El Salvador in the 1890s. Today there are more than 156 CAM churches which are grouped in a national council known as the Evangelical Church of El Salvador. CAM is the fourth largest evangelical denomination in El Salvador. Among its social services, it operates a home for the elderly.(6) CAM reported that it lost 100 members of its churches to the counterinsurgency war between 1977 and 1979. However, its churches grew 30 percent in 1980 and rapid growth continued through 1986 when evangelicals--including CAM--claimed to represent up to a fifth of the population of El Salvador. According to author David Stoll, this growth can be at least partially attributed to the fact that the evangelicals'identification with anticommunism and Washington D.C. provided members with a safe haven from government violence.(5) Guatemala: Cameron Townsend was the leading evangelist for CAM in Guatemala from 1917 through 1932.(1) CAM has 775 churches in Guatemala as well as humanitarian and development projects including schools, medical clinics, church construction projects, daycare centers, and food distribution centers. Its Guatemala Bible Institute and Central America Theological Seminary train pastors from throughout Latin America.(7) In 1989 CAM turned the theological seminary over to a national board of directors. The seminary is a major contributor to Guatemala's evangelical goal of winning over 50 percent of the population over to evangelical Christianity by the year 2000.(9) CAM has medical clinics in: Chimaltenango; Santa Cruz Barillas, Huehuetenango; San Andres, Solola; Nahuala, Solola; and San Lucas Toliman, Solola. There are CAM schools in Guatemala City, Santa Cruz Barillas, Huehuetenango; Antigue; Chimaltenango; Santa Lucia; Jutiapa; and San Pedro, San Marcos. CAM also has radio stations in Guatemala City (TGNA) and Barillas (Radio Maya) where it broadcasts in six languages. It has a guest house on Lake Atitlan, a seminary in Guatemala City, and a Bible institute for Indians in Chimaltenango.(7) CAM reported that its churches in the highly contested Ixil department grew rapidly between 1980 and 1984, the most violent years of the counterinsurgency war. As in El Salvador, membership in an evangelical church brought a measure of safety from government violence to area residents. However, as the violence in the area abated, CAM membership dropped back to its earlier levels of 10 percent of the population.(5) CAM helped to organize and promote the Evangelical Fraternity of Latin America (CONELA), the more conservative, fundamentalist alternative to the Latin American Council of Churches.(5,7) Honduras: CAM arrived in Honduras in 1896 to work with the Spanish-speaking residents of the interior. There are 225 CAM churches and congregations in Honduras. Today CAM International operates the American Academy, a Bible institute, several schools, and an evangelical hospital.(8) In Siguatepeque CAMis in process of building the Las Americas Conference Center which will house conferences, youth camps and short-term Bible institutes. The conference center is being built in cooperation with the Honduras Association of Evangelical Churches, a group with a membership of more than 2,000 local churches, and will serve groups from the other Central America nations.(9) CAM sponsored Luis Palau's crusades in 1970-71 in San Pedro Sula and Tegucigalpa, Honduras.(8) Nicaragua: The first CAM missionaries passed through Nicaragua in 1894.(12) CAM has 85 churches in Nicaragua where it is connected to CNPEN (Evangelical Pastors of Nicaragua), the conservative evangelical group supportive of the Reagan administration's policies in Nicaragua and allied with conservative U.S. private organizations such as the Institute on Religion and Democracy (IRD).(9,12) CAM pastor Boanerges Mendoza, reknowned for his close connections with the U.S. embassy in Nicaragua, was picked up by the Nicaraguan state security (DSGE) for questioning about his connection to the contras, the CIA, and other U.S. agencies opposing the Sandinista government.(10) CAM called the brief detention for questioning of Reverend Mendoza "a holocaust against evangelicals in Nicaragua."(12) Mendoza himself said that he was never physically mistreated and that after his release he was allowed to continue his work as a pastor and evangelist without restriction.(10) While it is clear that Mendoza is well connected to and supportive of the political right in Nicaragua, it remains unclear whether he is or was more than "a useful pawn in the CIA's manipulation of the Nicaraguan religious scene."(10) Mendoza named Jimmy Hassan, a former leader of the Campus Crusade for Christ in Nicaragua and outspoken opponent of the Sandinista government, as co-pastor of his CAM-connected church.(10) A second CAM pastor in Managua, Modesto Alvarez served as the channel for U.S. money coming from the U.S. embassy in Costa Rica to support rightwing evangelical pastors in Nicaragua. It is not known what U.S. agency sent the funds to the embassy. According to Alvarez the money was distributed to some 500 pastors. Alvarez is among the leadership of CNPEN.(11) CAM's Central American Theological Seminary in Guatemala trained most of the teachers at the Nicaragua Bible Institute, a training school for pastors. CAM also donated $200,000 to help rebuild the homes of 100 Nicaraguan families devastated by Hurricane Joan. The funds came from a TEAR Fund grant. CAM also helped with relief aid after the 1976 earthquake.(9) Govt Connections: Jimmy Hassan is a lawyer and once served on the Supreme Court of the Sandinista government. He resigned when he was demoted because of the large number of appeals stemming from his decisions.(12) Private Connections: CAM is a member of the Interdenominational Foreign Mission Association (IFMA). Other members include: Frontiers, Inc., Gospel Missionary Union, Mission Aviation Fellowship, South America Mission, Trans World Radio, United World Mission, World Literature Crusade, and World Radio Missionary Fellowship. It also undertakes joint ventures with the Evangelical Foreign Missions Association (EMFA) whose members include: Assemblies of God, Bible Literature International, Campus Crusade for Christ, the Christian and Missionary Alliance, the Church of God, Compassion International, Foursquare Missions International, Latin America Mission, Luis Palau Evangelistic Team, Nazarene Division of World Mission, OMS International, Overseas Crusades, World Concern, World Vision, and Youth for Christ International.(5) In its work in Guatemala CAM receives support from the 700 Club of the Christian Broadcasting Network and purchases the majority of its medical supplies from the Summer Institute for Linguistics, the overseas organization of Wycliffe Bible Translators.(1,7) It receives air transportation to its rural operations from Mission Aviation Fellowship. Mission Aviation Fellowship's main project in Guatemala is working with CAM's medical clinic in Barillas, Huehuetenango.(7) In Guatamala CAM works closely with Agros Foundation, a group that buys plots of land at market value and resells them to campesinos with interest-free loans. CAM also works with Christian and Missionary Alliance, a New Jersey-based mainline evangelical denomination that has 40 churches in Guatemala and sponsors several feeding and sewing projects. Christian and Missionary Alliance worked closely with the U.S. government in counterinsurgency efforts during the Vietnam war.(7) Jimmy Hassan, connected to CAM in Nicaragua, made a 1985 appearance on the 700 Club and "quickly became a cult hero of the Christian Right."(12) His exaggerated claims of mistreatment at the hands of the Sandinista government received major coverage in U.S. rightwing Christian periodicals such as Christianity Today, the Presbyterian Layman, and the United Methodist Reporter.(12) Mission Aviation Fellowship has worked closely with CAM in Honduras since 1950 when it provided transportation services to the CAM projects in Siguatepeque.(8) In El Salvador CAM works with and funds Alfalit International, a group that integrates literacy training with religious study.(6) CAM also cooperates with Feed the Children/Larry Jones' Ministries International and Medical Ambassadors in El Salvador. Medical Ambassadors provides medical and dental care accompanied by religious instruction and evangelization.(6) Operation Blessing, the social assistance branch of the 700 Club of the Christian Broadcasting Network, has offered assistance in the construction of churches to LAM.(6) Comments: CAM calls itself a fundamentalist, evangelical, non- political group. However, its history varies in each of the countries it enters. When the rise of the pentecostal evangelicals in Central America began to strip membership from the more theologicaly conservative CAM, it responded by working with the pentecostals. In some countries of Central America, CAM worked closely--if not directly--with repressive governments. In Nicaragua it worked closely with the rightwing opposition to the government. U.S. Address: CAM International, 8625 La Prada Dr., Dallas, TX 75228 Sources: 1. David Stoll, Fishers of Men or Founders of Empire?: The Wycliffe Bible Translators in Central America (London: Zed Press, 1982). 2. "A Great Door...," brochure, CAM International, undated. 3. "Here We Stand," brochure, CAM International, undated. 4. "CAM A Going Concern," brochure, CAM International, undated. 5. David Stoll, Is Latin America Turning Protestant?: Studies in the Politics of Evangelical Growth (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1990). 6. Private Organizations with U.S. Connections in El Salvador (Albuquerque, NM: The Resource Center, 1988). 7. Private Organizations with U.S. Connections in Guatemala (Albuquerque, NM: The Resource Center, 1988). 8. Private Organizations with U.S. Connections in Honduras (Albuquerque, NM: The Resource Center, 1988). 9. IFMA News, 3rd issue, 1989. 10. D. Paul Jeffrey, "When the Embassy Gets Religion: Nicaraguan Evangelicals Caught in Reagan's War," Christianity & Crisis, Oct 20, 1986. 11. Paul Jeffrey, Religious News Service, Aug 24, 1989. 12. "The Other Invasion," The CEPAD Report, July-Aug 1989. 13. "CAMology," brochure, CAM International

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