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I Timothy 3:15
E. L. Bynum
The Plains Baptist Challenger
Televangelist Robertson's Humanitarian Planes Used For Diamond Mining Firm
Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, 4-28-97
VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (AP) -Airplanes sent to Zaire by evangelist Pat Robertson's tax- exempt humanitarian organization were used almost exclusively for his diamond mining business, say two pilots who flew them.
Three airplanes were flown to Zaire in September 1994 by Operation Blessing. However, chief pilot Robert Hinkle said only one or two of the roughly 40 flights during his six months in the country could be considered humanitarian. All the rest of the flights were mining-related, he told The (Norfolk) Virginia-Pilot.
Robertson's spokesman first denied the accounts by Hinkle and a co-pilot, Tahir Brohi of England. Later, Gene Kapp, vice president for public relations at Robertson's Christian Broadcasting Network, said the planes turned out to be unsuitable for medical relief and that Robertson reimbursed Operation Blessing for their use.
"Without Mr. Robertson's generous overture, Operation Blessing would have incurred further expenses with its aircraft," he said.
Robertson refused to be interviewed directly, the newspaper said in Sunday's editions. Calls to his office on Sunday were not answered.
Hinkle, from Chandler, Ariz., said he had assumed the flights would be for humanitarian work.
"We hauled medical supplies one time," Hinkle said in a telephone interview. "It might have been about 500 pounds at the most. It was a very minimal amount." The planes were capable of carrying about 7,000 pounds, he said.
Notes that Hinkle kept during most of the flights contain entries for 36 flights, the newspaper said. Of the 17 that mention the purpose of the trip, 15 are related to diamond mining.
Robertson's company, African Development Co., based in the Zairian capital of Kinshasa, sought to dredge diamonds from a remote jungle riverbed. Robertson is the president and sole shareholder of the company.
The company ended up losing millions of dollars, and is now the center of a lawsuit in which Robertson is trying to recoup some of his losses from a mining equipment manufacturer.
Zaire was a hot topic on "The 700 Club," Robertson's daily religious TV show, with regular reports in in 1994 on the work done by six Operation Blessing volunteer medical teams sent to help refugees from Rwanda.
During one broadcast in December 1994 Robertson showed snapshots taken on a trip to Zaire. The newspaper said Robertson didn't tell viewers the airstrip was built so planes could bring in mining equipment.
Comments By E. L. Bynum
If any of the fans of Pat Robertson or his 700 Club read this, please take note. You had better get your offerings in for Operation Blessing, and Pat Robertson. He may get a word of knowledge about pearl diving, oil drilling, or gold mining. He will need your funds for this or some other scheme he has going.
I imagine that Pat Robertson being in the diamond mining business, will come as a big surprise to some of his supporters. They might check into what other great enterprises he is involved in, and where he got the money for all of this. This is just a thought. A hint to the wise should be sufficient.