The Fellowship (Christian organization)
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Legal status: 501(c)3
Headquarters Cedars, a mansion in Arlington, Virginia
Associate Director: Douglas Coe
AffiliationsChrist: ians in Congress
The Fellowship, also known as The Family, and the International Foundation is a U.S.-based religious and political organization founded in 1935 by Abraham Vereide. The stated purpose of the Fellowship is to provide a fellowship forum for decision makers to share in Bible studies, prayer meetings, worship experiences, and to experience spiritual affirmation and support.
The Fellowship has been described as one of the most politically well-connected ministries in the United States. The Fellowship shuns publicity and its members share a vow of secrecy. The Fellowship's leader Doug Coe and others have explained the organization's desire for secrecy by citing biblical admonitions against public displays of good works, insisting they would not be able to tackle diplomatically sensitive missions if they drew public attention.
The Fellowship holds one regular public event each year, the National Prayer Breakfast held in Washington, D.C. Every sitting United States president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has participated in at least one National Prayer Breakfast during his term.
The Fellowship's known participants include ranking United States government officials, corporate executives, heads of religious and humanitarian aid organizations, and ambassadors and high-ranking politicians from across the world. Many United States Senators and Congressmen have publicly acknowledged working with the Fellowship or are documented as having worked together to pass or influence legislation.
In Newsweek magazine, Lisa Miller wrote that rather than calling themselves "Christians," as they describe themselves, they are brought together by common love for the teachings of Jesus and that all approaches to "loving Jesus" are acceptable. Investigative reporter Jeff Sharlet wrote a book, The Family: The Secret Fundamentalism at the Heart of American Power, as well as an article in Harper's magazine, describing his experience while serving as an intern in the Fellowship. He opined that the Fellowship fetishizes power by comparing Jesus to "Lenin, Ho Chi Minh, Bin Laden" as examples of leaders who change the world through the strength of the covenants they had forged with their "brothers".
The Fellowship Foundation traces its roots to its founder, Abraham Vereide, a Methodist clergyman and social innovator, who organized a month of prayer meetings in 1934 in San Francisco. Vereide was a Norwegian immigrant who founded Goodwill Industries in Seattle in 1916 to assist the city's unemployed Scandinavian immigrant population. Goodwill Industries soon occupied a city block, where they repaired and processed discarded clothing and furniture and converted "waste to wages". The Fellowship was founded in 1935 in opposition to FDR's New Deal. His work spread down the West coast and eventually to Boston.
In April 1935, Vereide and Major J.F. Douglas invited 19 business and civic leaders for a breakfast prayer meeting. By 1937, 209 prayer breakfast groups had been organized throughout Seattle. In 1940, 300 men from all over the state of Washington attended a prayer breakfast for the new governor, Arthur Langlie. Vereide traveled throughout the Pacific Northwest, and later around the country, to develop similar groups. The non-denominational groups were meant to informally bring together civic and business leaders to share vision, study the Bible and develop relationships of trust and support.
The Fellowship Foundation was incorporated by Abraham Vereide in Chicago in 1942 as Fellowship Foundation, Inc. It also acquired the names International Christian Leadership (ICL), Fellowship House, and International Foundation as venues of its global outreach ministry expanded. The Fellowship Foundation, Inc. does most of its business as the International Foundation, which is its DBA name.
By 1942 there were 60 breakfast groups in major cities around the US and Canada, including Chicago, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, New York, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Washington and Vancouver. That same year, Vereide began to hold small prayer breakfasts for members of the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate. He also began publishing a monthly newsletter called The Breakfast Luncheon Fireside and Campus Groups that contained a Bible study that could be used by all the groups, as well as information about activities of different chapters. He also published a newsletter through the years under various names, including The Breakfast Groups Informer (ca. 1945–46), The Breakfast Groups (ca. 1944–53), International Christian Leadership Bulletin (ca. 1953–54), Bulletin of International Christian Leadership (ca. 1954–56), Christian Leadership (ca. 1957–61), ICLeadership Letter (1961–66), International Leadership Letter (ca. 1967), and Leadership Letter (ca. 1963–70).
In 1942, the Fellowship was incorporated in Chicago, Illinois forming Vereide's center of national outreach to businessmen and civic and clergy leadership. Vereide had moved the group's offices from Seattle to the more centralized location of Chicago, headquarters of the businessmen's luncheon outreach "Christian Businessmen's Committee", which Vereide led with industrialist C.B. Hedstrom. That same year the Fellowship Foundation established a delegation ministry in Washington DC on Massachusetts Avenue at Sheridan Circle named "Fellowship House". Vereide later described it as the nerve center of the breakfast groups.
In 1944, Vereide held his first joint Senate-House prayer breakfast meeting. He held another breakfast on June 16, 1946, attended by Senators H. Alexander Smith and Lister Hill, and US News and World Report publisher David Lawrence.
In 1946, Vereide wrote and released a book with Reverend John G. Magee, chaplain to President Harry Truman entitled Together(Abingdon Cokesbury). In the book, Vereide explained his philosophy of visionary discipleship and gathering together in what he termed spiritual cells:
Man craves fellowship. Most of us want an opportunity to make our feelings known, to relate our personal experiences, to compare notes with others, and, in unity of spirit to receive renewal, inspiration, guidance, and strength from God. Such groups as we are thinking of have characterized every spiritual awakening. Jesus began with Peter and James and John. He had the twelve and the Seventy. At Bethany he established a cell... there you have the formula... faith embodied the same close informal fellowship... one common practice—gathering together in the name of Jesus.
In January 1947, a conference in Zurich led to the formation of the International Council for Christian Leadership (ICCL), an umbrella group for the national fellowship groups in the United States, Canada, Great Britain, Norway, Hungary, Egypt and China. ICCL was incorporated as a separate organization in 1953. ICL and ICCL were governed by different boards of directors, joined by a coordinating committee: four members of ICCL's board and four from the ICL's executive committee.
In 1953, President Dwight D. Eisenhower attended the Senate Prayer Breakfast Group. He was invited by fellow Kansan Frank Carlson. By that time, Vereide's congressional members also included Senators Frank Carlson, Karl Mundt, Everett Dirksen and Strom Thurmond.
By 1957, ICL had established 125 groups in 100 cities, with 16 groups in Washington, D.C. alone. It had set up another 125 groups in other countries. During 1958, a mentor from The Navigators, Douglas Coe, joined Vereide as assistant executive director of ICL in Washington, D.C. After over 35 years of leading the Fellowship Foundation, Vereide died in 1969 and was succeeded by Richard C. Halverson as executive director. Halverson and Coe worked side by side until Halverson's death in 1995.
In 1972, according to the Fellowship archives, after consultations among leaders in the prayer breakfast movement (including Douglas Coe, Richard Halverson, Dr. Wallace Haines and Senator Mark Hatfield and others) the organization was reprofiled to be "even more low key". The Fellowship archives reveal that, "in effect, the group adopted an even lower profile, serving as a channel of communication and a catalyst" of global outreach in the spirit of Jesus. The goal was to be less institutional in bearing and more relational and relevant to the global cultures, so that each geographic area had its own identity of personal ministry, not strictly metropolitan, but relevant to ranchers, miners, people in jungles, deserts, villages and on remote islands. That they might experience fellowship in Christ in their own sphere of human identification.
Prominent evangelical Christians have described the Fellowship as one of the most, or the most, politically well-connected ministries in the world.
D. Michael Lindsay, a former Rice University sociologist who studies the evangelical movement, said "there is no other organization like the Fellowship, especially among religious groups, in terms of its access or clout among the country’s leadership." He also reported that lawmakers mentioned the Fellowship more than any other organization when asked to name a ministry with the most influence on their faith.
In 1977, four years after he had converted to Christianity, Fellowship member and Watergate conspirator Charles Colson described the group as a "veritable underground of Christ’s men all through the U.S. government."
Former Senate Prayer Group member and current Kansas Governor Sam Brownback has described Fellowship members' method of operation: "Typically, one person grows desirous of pursuing an action"—a piece of legislation, a diplomatic strategy—"and the others pull in behind." Brownback has often joined with fellow Family members in pursuing legislation. For example, in 1999 he joined together with fellow Family members, Senators Strom Thurmond and Don Nickles to demand a criminal investigation of Americans United for the Separation of Church and State, and in 2005 Brownback joined with Fellowship member Sen. Tom Coburn to promote the Houses of Worship Act.
The Reverend Rob Schenck, founder of the Washington, D.C. ministry Faith and Action in the Nation’s Capital, described the Family's influence as "off the charts" in comparison with other fundamentalist groups, specifically compared to Focus on the Family, Pat Robertson, Gary Bauer, Traditional Values Coalition, and Prison Fellowship. (These last two are associated with the Family: Traditional Values Coalition uses their C Street House and Prison Fellowship was founded by Charles Colson.) Schenck also says that "the mystique of the Fellowship" has helped it "gain entree into almost impossible places in the capital."
A talk from 1970 for college students encouraging mentoring and discipleship stated: "If you want... there are men in government, there are senators who literally find it their pleasure to give any advice, assistance, or counsel." 
Lindsay also interviewed 360 evangelical elites, among whom "One in three mentioned [Doug] Coe or the Fellowship as an important influence."
The Fellowship also has relationships with numerous non-U.S. government leaders. Lindsay reported that it "has relationships with pretty much every world leader—good and bad—and there are not many organizations in the world that can claim that."
"The Fellowship’s reach into governments around the world is almost impossible to overstate or even grasp," says David Kuo, a former special assistant in George W. Bush’s Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.
Beliefs and theology
The Fellowship Foundation's 501(c)(3) mission statement is:
To develop and maintain an informal association of people banded together, to go out as "ambassadors of reconciliation," modeling the principles of Jesus, based on loving God and loving others. To work with the leaders of many nations, and as their hearts are touched, the poor, the oppressed, the widows, and the youth of their country will be impacted in a positive manner. Youth groups will be developed under the thoughts of Jesus, including loving others as you want to be loved.
Newsweek reported that the Fellowship has often been criticized by conservative and fundamentalist Christian groups for being too inclusive and not putting enough emphasis on doctrine or church attendance. NPR has reported that the evangelical group's views on religion and politics are so singular that some other Christian right organizations consider them heretical.
David Kuo, staffer in President George W. Bush's Office of Faith Based and Community Initiatives, who has been affiliated with the Fellowship since college, said of the Fellowship:
For all the hysteria about Christian organizations, the irony that the Fellowship is being targeted as a bad egg is jaw-dropping. This is so not Focus on the Family, this is so not the Christian Coalition. There are other Christian groups that are truly insane. Who purport to follow Jesus Christ and who I would submit do not. The Fellowship is a loosely banded group of people who have an affinity for Jesus.
Current Fellowship prayer group member and former U.S. Representative Tony P. Hall (D-OH) said, "If people in this country knew how many Democrats and Republicans pray together and actually like each other behind closed doors, they would be amazed." The Fellowship is simply, "men and women who are trying to get right with God. Trying to follow God, learn how to love him, and learn how to love each other." When he lost his teenage son to leukemia, Hall says, "This family helped me. This family was there for me. That's what they do."
Hillary Clinton described meeting the leader of the Fellowship in 1993: "Doug Coe, the longtime National Prayer Breakfast organizer, is a unique presence in Washington: a genuinely loving spiritual mentor and guide to anyone, regardless of party or faith, who wants to deepen his or her relationship to God."
Writer Jeff Sharlet did intensive research in the Fellowship's archives before they were closed to the public. He also spent a month in 2002 living in a Fellowship house near Washington, and wrote a magazine article describing his experiences. According to his 2008 book about the Family, he criticizes their theology as an "elite fundamentalism" that fetishizes political power and wealth, consistently opposes labor movements in the US and abroad, and teaches that laissez-faire economic policy is "God's will." He opines that their theological teaching of instant forgiveness, has been useful to powerful men, providing them a convenient excuse for misdeeds or crimes and allowing them to avoid accepting responsibility or accountability for their actions.
Sharlet's book was endorsed by several commentators, including Frank Schaeffer, once a leading figure of the Christian right, who called Sharlet's book a "must read... disturbing tour de force," and Brian McLaren, one of Time's "25 most influential evangelicals" in the U.S., who said: "Jeff Sharlet [is] a confessed non-evangelical whom top evangelical organizations might be wise to hire—and quick—as a consultant." Lisa Miller, who writes a column on religion at Newsweek, called his book "alarmist" and says it paints a "creepy, even cultish picture" of the young, lower-ranking members of the Fellowship.
Jeff Sharlet stated in an NBC Nightly News report that when he was an intern with the Fellowship "we were being taught the leadership lessons of Hitler, Lenin and Mao" and that Hitler's genocide "wasn't really an issue for them, it was the strength that he emulated." In his book The Family, Sharlet said Fellowship leader Doug Coe preached a leadership model and a personal commitment to Jesus Christ comparable to the blind devotion that Adolf Hitler, Joseph Stalin, Mao Zedong, and Pol Pot demanded from their followers. In one videotaped lecture series in 1989, Coe said,
"Hitler, Goebbels and Himmler were three men. Think of the immense power these three men had.... But they bound themselves together in an agreement.... Jesus said, 'You have to put me before other people. And you have to put me before yourself.' Hitler, that was the demand to be in the Nazi party. You have to put the Nazi party and its objectives ahead of your own life and ahead of other people."
In the same series, Coe also compared Jesus's teachings to the Red Guard during the Chinese Cultural Revolution:
I’ve seen pictures of young men in the Red Guard of China.... They would bring in this young man’s mother and father, lay her on the table with a basket on the end, he would take an axe and cut her head off.... They have to put the purposes of the Red Guard ahead of the mother-father-brother-sister — their own life! That was a covenant. A pledge. That was what Jesus said.
David Kuo, a former White House aide to George W. Bush, said that Coe is using Hitler as a metaphor for commitment. The NBC report said "a close friend of Coe told NBC News that he invokes Hitler to show the power of small groups—for good and bad. And, the friend said, most of the time he talks about Jesus."
In a report on the Fellowship, the Los Angeles Times found:
[Fellowship members] share a vow of silence about Fellowship activities. Coe and others cite biblical admonitions against public displays of good works, insisting they would not be able to tackle their diplomatically sensitive missions if they drew public attention. Members, including congressmen, invoke this secrecy rule when refusing to discuss just about every aspect of the Fellowship and their involvement in it."
The Fellowship has long been a secretive organization. The Reverend Rob Schenck, who leads a Bible study on the Hill inspired by C Street, wrote that "all ministries in Washington need to protect the confidence of those we minister to, and I'm sure that’s a primary motive for C Street's low profile." But he added, "I think The Fellowship has been just a tad bit too clandestine."
Prominent political figures have insisted that confidentiality and privacy are essential to the Fellowship's operation. In 1985, President Ronald Reagan said about the Fellowship, "I wish I could say more about it, but it's working precisely because it is private."
At the 1990 National Prayer Breakfast, President George H.W. Bush praised Doug Coe for what he described as "quiet diplomacy, I wouldn’t say secret diplomacy."
In 2009, Chris Halverson, son of Fellowship co-founder Richard C. Halverson, said that a culture of pastoral confidentiality is essential to the ministry: "If you talked about it, you would destroy that fellowship."
In 1975, a member of the Fellowship's inner circle wrote to the group's chief South African operative, that their political initiatives
...have always been misunderstood by 'outsiders.' As a result of very bitter experiences, therefore, we have learned never to commit to paper any discussions or negotiations that are taking place. There is no such thing as a 'confidential' memorandum, and leakage always seems to occur. Thus, I would urge you not to put on paper anything relating to any of the work that you are doing...[unless] you know the recipient well enough to put at the top of the page 'PLEASE DESTROY AFTER READING.'
In 1974, after several Watergate conspirators had joined the Fellowship, a Los Angeles Times columnist discouraged further inquiries into Washington's "underground prayer movement", i.e. the Fellowship: "They genuinely avoid publicity...they shun it."
In 2002, Doug Coe denied that the Fellowship Foundation owns the National Prayer Breakfast. Jennifer Thornett, a Fellowship employee, said that "there is no such thing as the Fellowship".
Former Republican Senator William Armstrong said the group has "made a fetish of being invisible".
In the 1960s, the Fellowship began distributing to involved members of Congress notes that stated that "the group, as such, never takes any formal action, but individuals who participate in the group through their initiative have made possible the activities mentioned."
On January 5, 2010, Fellowship member Bob Hunter gave an interview on national television in which he stated:
But I do agree with you, that The Fellowship is too secret. We don't have a Web site. We don't have – we have a lot of good ministers, 200 ministers doing good works that nobody knows about. I think that's wrong, and there's a debate going on among a lot of people about whether and how we should change that.
The Fellowship does now have (apparently since 2010) a public website. It still conducts no public fundraising activities.
National Prayer Breakfast
Fellowship Foundation is best known for the National Prayer Breakfast, held each year on the first Thursday of February in Washington, D.C. First held in 1953, the event is now attended by over 3,400 guests including dignitaries from many nations. The President of the United States typically makes an address at the breakfast, following the main speaker's keynote address. The event is hosted by a 24-member committee of members of Congress. Democrats and Republicans serve on the organizing committee, and chairmanship alternates each year between the House and the Senate.
At the National Prayer Breakfast, the President usually arrives an hour early and meets with eight to ten heads of state, usually of small nations, and guests chosen by the Fellowship.
G. Philip Hughes, the executive secretary for the National Security Council in the George H.W. Bush administration, said, "Doug Coe or someone who worked with him would call and say, 'So and so would like to have a word with the president. Do you think you could arrange something?'"
However, Doug Coe has said that the Fellowship does not help foreign dignitaries gain access to U.S. officials. "We never make any commitment, ever, to arrange special meetings with the president, vice president or secretary of State," Coe said. "We would never do it."
At the 2001 Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearings for State Department officials, Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL), whose wife was on the board of the Fellowship, lamented that the State Department had blocked then-President Bush from meeting with four foreign heads of state (Rwanda, Macedonia, Congo and Slovakia) at the NPB that year.
Senator Paul Sarbanes (D-MD) said of Nelson's complaint: "I'm not sure a head of state ought to be able to wander over here for the prayer breakfast and, in effect, compel the president of the United States to meet with him as a consequence.... Getting these meetings with the president is a process that's usually very carefully vetted and worked up. Now sort of this back door has sort of evolved."
"It [the NPB] totally circumvents the State Department and the usual vetting within the administration that such a meeting would require," an anonymous government informant told sociologist D. Michael Lindsay. "If Doug Coe can get you some face time with the President of the United States, then you will take his call and seek his friendship. That’s power."
Year / Keynote Speaker / Chairpersons
2006 King Abdullah II of Jordan and humanitarian/musician Paul Hewson (Bono) Senators Norm Coleman (R-MN) and Mark Pryor (D-AR)
2007 Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., director of the Human Genome Project Reps. Emanuel Cleaver II (D-MO) and Jo Ann Davis (R-VA)
2008 Ward Brehm, Chairman of the United States African Development Foundation Senators Ken Salazar (D-CO) and Mike Enzi (R-WY)
2009 Former Prime Minister Tony Blair Reps. Heath Shuler (D-NC) and Vernon Ehlers (R-MI)
2010 Prime Minister José Luis Rodríguez Zapatero and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton Senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN)
2011 Screenwriter Randall Wallace Rep. Jeff Miller (R-FL) and former Rep. Ann Kirkpatrick (D-AZ)
2012 Author Eric Metaxas Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
2013 Ben Carson, M.D., Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital Senators Mark Pryor (D-AR) and Jeff Sessions (R-AL)
2014 Rajiv Shah, Administrator of the US Agency for International Development Reps. Janice Hahn (D-CA) and Louie Gohmert (R-TX)
2015 Darrell Waltrip, Former NASCAR driver Senators Bob Casey, Jr. (D-PA) and Roger Wicker (R-MS)
2016 Television producer Mark Burnett and actress Roma Downey Reps. Robert Aderholt (R-AL) and Juan Vargas (D-CA)
Prayer Breakfast movement
A primary activity of the Fellowship is to develop small support groups for politicians, including Senators and members of Congress, Executive Branch officials, military officers, foreign leaders and dignitaries, businesspersons, and other influential individuals. Prayer groups have met in the White House, the Pentagon and at the Department of Defense. By the early 1970s, prayer groups, breakfasts, and luncheons, including those sponsored by ICL, had become commonplace in the Pentagon.
J. Edwin Orr, an advisor to Billy Graham and friend of Abraham Vereide, helped shape the prayer breakfast movement that grew out of ICL.
Role in international conflicts
The Fellowship was a behind-the-scenes player at the Camp David Middle East accords in 1978, working with President Jimmy Carter to issue a worldwide call to prayer with Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin and Egyptian President Anwar Sadat.
President Carter hosted former Senator Harold E. Hughes, the President of the Fellowship Foundation, and Doug Coe, for a luncheon at the White House on September 26, 1978. Six weeks later, President Carter and the First Lady traveled by Marine helicopter to Cedar Point Farm, Hughes' home on Maryland's Eastern Shore, where he placed a telephone call to Menachim Begin.
The author Jeff Sharlet has criticized the fellowship's influence on US foreign policy. He argues that Doug Coe and the "networking" (or formation of prayer cells) between foreign dictators and US politicians, defense contractors, and industry leaders has facilitated military aid for repressive foreign regimes. Sharlet did intensive research at the Billy Graham Center, before the Fellowship Foundation archives were closed to those other than divinity scholars. Sharlet published a book about the history of the groups and their influence on US domestic and foreign policy from the 1920s to the present. Sharlet in particular details the relationship with General Suharto of Indonesia in the 1970s, and with Siad Barre of Somalia in the 1980s. Also, in the archives, there are at least two nearly full boxes of documents describing the relationship with Brazil's long dictatorship of the Generals.
Regarding his relationships with foreign dictators, Coe said in 2007, "I never invite them. They come to me. And I do what Jesus did: I don’t turn my back to any one. You know, the Bible is full of mass murderers."
The Los Angeles Times examined the Fellowship Foundation's ministry records and archives (before they were sealed), as well as documents obtained from several presidential libraries and found that the Fellowship Foundation had extraordinary access and significant influence over U.S. foreign affairs for the last 75 years.
The Fellowship has funded the travel expenses of members of Congress to various hot spots throughout the globe, including Rep. Robert Aderholt (R-Al.) to Darfur, Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Ok.) to Lebanon, Rep. Aderholt to The Balkans, and Reps John Carter (R-Tex.) and Joseph Pitts (R.-Pa.) to Belarus.
In 2002, Reps. Frank Wolf (R-Va.), Tony P. Hall (D-Ohio) and Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) traveled to Afghanistan and Pakistan on a fact-finding congressional trip, meeting with the leaders of both Muslim countries. According to Pitts, "The first thing we did when we met with [Afghan] President Karzai and [then Pakistan] President Musharraf was to say, 'We're here officially representing the Congress; we'll report back to the speaker, our leaders, our committees, our government. But we're here also because we're best friends.... We're members of the same prayer group'".
Doug Coe has been dispatched to foreign governments with the blessing of Congressional representatives and has helped arrange meetings overseas for U.S. officials and members of Congress. In 1979, for instance, Coe messaged the Saudi Arabian Minister of Commerce and asked him to meet with a Defense Department official who was visiting Riyadh, the capital.
The Fellowship has brought controversial international figures to Washington to meet with U.S. officials. Among them are former Salvadoran Gen. Carlos Eugenio Vides Casanova, who in 2002 was found liable by a civil jury in Florida for the torture of thousands of civilians in the 1980s. He was invited to the 1984 prayer breakfast, along with Gen. Gustavo Alvarez Martinez, then head of the Honduran armed forces who was linked to a death squad and the Central Intelligence Agency.
Coe was quoted in a rare interview regarding the Fellowship's associations with despots as explaining, "The people that are involved in this association of people around the world are the worst and the best, some are total despots. Some are totally religious. You can find what you want to find."
Coe also has claimed that the Fellowship does not help foreign dignitaries gain access to U.S. officials. "We never make any commitment, ever, to arrange special meetings with the president, vice president or secretary of State", Coe said. "We would never do it". The LA Times found that "the archives tell another story".
In January 1991, Fellowship associate and financial supporter Michael Timmis met President Pierre Buyoya of Burundi on behalf of the Fellowship, then flew to Kenya with Arthur (Gene) Dewey, the former second-in-command at the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Sam Owen, then living in Nairobi. Timmis wrote that he had obtained permission to fly over Tanzanian air space, even though the U.S. Department of State had ordered American citizens to stay clear of Tanzania.
The Fellowship has promoted reconciliation between the warring leaders of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Burundi, and Rwanda. In 2001, the Fellowship helped arrange a secret meeting at The Cedars between Democratic Republic of Congo President Joseph Kabila and Rwandan President Paul Kagame — one of the first discreet meetings between the two African leaders that led to a peace accord in July 2002.
In 1994 at the National Prayer Breakfast, the Fellowship helped to persuade South African Zulu chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi not to engage in a civil war with Nelson Mandela.
According to Jeff Sharlet, Senator Sam Brownback (R.-Kan.) is a Fellowship member who leads a secret "cell" of leading U.S. Senators and Representatives to influence U.S. foreign policy. Sharlet reports that the group has stamped much of U.S. foreign policy through a group of Senators and affiliated religious organizations forming the "Values Action Team" or "VAT". One victory for the group was Brownback's North Korea Human Rights Act, which establishes a confrontational stance toward North Korea and shifts funds for humanitarian aid from the UN to Christian organizations.
The Fellowship is behind an international project called Youth Corps, a network of Christian youth groups that attract teenagers, and only later steer them to Jesus. The Youth Corps web site does not mention an affiliation to the Fellowship or religion. A non-public, internal Fellowship document, "Regional Reports, January 3, 2002," lists some of the nations where Youth Corps programs are in operation: Russia; Ukraine; Romania; India; Pakistan; Uganda; Nepal; Bhutan; Ecuador; Honduras and Peru.
Fellowship funds have gone to an orphanage in India, a program in Uganda that provides schooling, and a development group in Peru.