December 24, 2008

Baptists Killed in Nigeria

Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
Baptist World Alliance

December 22, 2008

Washington, D.C. (BWA)--At least 12 Nigerian Baptists were killed and five Baptist churches burned during riots sparked by local election results in November.

Motunrayo Adegbilero, a Nigerian who is President of the Baptist Women’s Union of Africa (BWUA), informed the Baptist World Alliance that “churches are being burnt and Christians are being killed in Jos, the capital of Plateau State of Nigeria .”

Plateau State lies in central Nigeria , and roughly borders the predominantly Muslim north and the mainly Christian south of the country. Tensions between Christians and Muslims have risen in recent times in the most populous African nation of almost 150 million people. Local elections held in Jos on November 28 and 29 led to riots amid rumors that the candidate supported mainly by Christians had won the elections, even though the results were not officially declared. Clashes between Christians and Muslims led to wide scale assaults.

Adegbilero stated that “the death toll is about 400 now,” and that “the dead are both Christians and Muslims.” Several thousand persons were reportedly injured and an estimated 10,000 displaced...

For the full release:

December 16, 2008

A Cry for Peace in the DRC

By Maurice Mondengo

Throughout the last few months conflict centered in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo has continued to escalate with profound effects. Since August an estimated 250,000 civilians have been forced to flee their homes ( Many have been driven into refugee camps. Many more are hiding in the forest and in the mountains. The villages are empty. The basic minimum conditions for life and sustenance are missing. It is hard and risky to reach the places where the people are hiding. Even where there is food, there is no money to buy it.

Those who have guns have their say. Those who do not have guns have lost their voice.

On the other hand, there is a great deal of goodwill from the churches which are bringing love, hope and food to the different displacement camps in the east of the DRC. The BWA has contributed a grant used to provide aid to displaced persons in the Kivu region and Baptist missionaries have been working in the battlefield with some local pastors.

All the same, the people in the east of the DRC need more than food. They need change. They need a stop to this off-and-on remote-controlled war that since 1996 has left more than 5 million dead, a war that has multiplied the number of widows and orphans.

Enough is enough.

Though we cannot all travel to the DRC, each one of us can do something wherever we are at. We can all share news of the Congo and influence those who have a say in the world. Let us work for lasting peace without keeping quiet in the face of injustice, oppression and every kind of violence. Justice and peace must walk together and we as the Church should be at the forefront of announcing this full Gospel of justice and peace to our world.

Let us be the voice of the voiceless in the Congo.

Let peace start with us… please.

**Maurice Mondengo is a Baptist pastor and Junior Lecturer in Theology in the DRC as well as a BWA Emerging Leader.

Peace in the DRC – Recommended Video

By Maurice Mondengo

Brothers and Sisters I am recommending this powerful video on the Democratic Republic of Congo. Possibly it will bring the story of my country close to your hearts. Thank you for joining with us in prayer. And thank you for working hard to help us stop this tragedy.

**Maurice Mondengo is a Baptist pastor and Junior Lecturer in Theology in the DRC as well as a BWA Emerging Leader.

Baptist-Catholic Talks Continue

Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
Baptist World Alliance

December 16, 2008

Washington, D.C. (BWA)--The third round in the second series of theological conversations between the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and the Vatican is taking place December 14-19 at Duke Divinity School in the state of North Carolina in the United States . The discussions are being held in five rounds from 2006-2010, and focus on the theme, “The Word of God in the Life of the Church: Scripture, Tradition and Koinonia.” The talks have several aims, including to increase mutual understanding, appreciation, and Christian charity toward each other, and to encourage collaborative action on ethical issues, including justice, peace and the sanctity of life.

The BWA delegation to the meeting is being led by Paul Fiddes of England , Chair of the BWA Commission on Doctrine and Interchurch Cooperation. Delegates include Timothy George, Steve Harmon and Nora Lozano from the United States ; Fred Deegbe from Ghana ; Tadeusz J. Zielinski from Poland ; and Tony Peck, BWA Regional Secretary for Europe .

Nancy Bedford, Curtis Freeman, and Elizabeth Newman are BWA observers. BWA General Secretary Neville Callam and BWA Director of the Division of Study and Research, Fausto Vasconcelos, are also attending the meetings.

For the full release:

December 14, 2008

Human Rights Prayer from Indonesia - A Prayer for the Church

Our God,
You who dwell in the highest
and who has called us
in your Son, Jesus Christ, to be Church.

We thank you today, for the rich heritage we claim as Baptists,
a heritage born of courage, piety and sacrifice.

We claim today fellowship in mission with all Baptists,
as we share of our wealth for the work of your Church
around the world,
in healing the sick, and feeding the hungry,
in redeeming through your Word that the blind may see,
and in so doing, freeing captives in the name of
Jesus of Nazareth.

We confess, our God, that in the comfort of your blessings
and abundance
and in the safety of the blessing of peace in our land,
we too easily forget others of our body, your Church,
who pray today for your daily bread to feed their hungry
who pray for signs of peace in their land,
who pray for freedom to pursue a life worth the living.

So make us mindful, we pray,
that others of your Church today
eat the bread in secret, for fear of persecution,
and drink the cup in whispers for fear of death.
For them, our sisters and brothers, we pray
that your Spirit will watch over them with a mighty arm,
that your joy may be complete in them,
and that their hope in you may be realized in power and grace.

These things we pray in the mighty name
of the One who makes us one,
Jesus Christ, Our Savior.

(Taken from the BWA's publication Hallowed be Your Name)

December 13, 2008

Human Rights Prayer from South Africa - A Prayer for Hope

Oh, God

You can do anything, anywhere, any time

All knowing, all seeing God,

There is nothing hidden from you.

You see the women of Africa:

Who are refugees,
fleeing their war-torn countries
with babies on their backs and luggage on their heads.

Some who are victims of human rights violations,
abuse, infected with AIDS

We put our hope in you, oh God,

For you hear even our unmentioned prayers
You watch not only the sparrow, but you see us too
And your hands guide us all the way.

Above all, you offer us the gift of eternal life.

We praise your holy name.

(Taken from the BWA's publication Hallowed be Your Name)

December 12, 2008

BWA Observes Human Rights Day

Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
Baptist World Alliance

December 12, 2008

Washington, D.C. (BWA)--The Baptist World Alliance observes Human Rights Day on December 13 or 14.

The BWA observance coincides with the anniversary of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which was adopted on December 10, 1948. This year marks the 60th anniversary of the document that outlines in 30 articles the basic rights of all people.

Since the inception of the Baptist World Alliance in 1905, issues of human rights and justice have been a priority of the BWA.

The BWA Division of Freedom and Justice, which was established on September 1, focuses on marginalized Baptists and other Christians who experience various forms of persecution and injustice, such as the current anti-Christian violence in India .

Human Rights Day worship resources are available on the BWA website at

December 10, 2008

Floods in Brazil

By Mayrinkellison Wanderley

I am asking you to pray for south Brazil because since November it has rained almost every day and is consequently causing severe damage within the south. According to one report, “Water levels have risen to nine meters above normal and the rain-soaked soil caused heavy landslides throughout the region. As a result, at least 118 people are reported dead and more than 78,700 people have evacuated their homes. Another 150,000 people have been left without electricity.”

This is a sad situation for us and the Red Cross and other organizations are inviting people to help them as volunteers. This is one of the worst disasters in that region and many are separated from their homes and families. Please forward this information to your churches and join us in prayer for south Brazil and those affected by these devastating rains.

**Many thanks to Mayrinkellison Wanderley, an Emerging Leader from Brazil who is on staff with the World Missions Board of the Brazilian Baptist Convention.

December 8, 2008

The Christmas Nativity

I recently received my first official Christmas card and it got me thinking about the Christmas season and the cards that we regularly share with family and friends. One of the most popular pictures used on Christmas cards is of the nativity.

Though the above is a nice picture, it does seem to imply a message of safety and security. It’s as if the primary Christmas message that we want to portray is one that has been sanitized so that it is clean, perfectly in place and almost middle class…

Nothing could be further from the reality of that moment. The political context was one of occupation by a foreign power. The despotic leader was known for his violence and cunning cruelty as well as vast building projects that altered the religious and moral landscape through the construction of Roman temples and Roman cultural vignettes. Mary had experienced an out of wedlock teenage pregnancy and Joseph understood the pain of broken trust and an imperfect strained relationship. Both had travelled 90 miles by foot or donkey in the ninth month of a pregnancy and were now separated from family, friends and familiarity. Though they did not know it, they were on the verge of becoming refugees. Surely an out of the way cave surrounded by animals and manure was far from their childhood dreams.

And yet it is in this context that Good News was declared. In the midst of muck, mire and even personal manure, Christ was born. In the midst of broken dreams, strained relationships and a journey of great uncertainty, Christ was born. In the midst of violence and politics by war, domination and division, Christ was born. Embodying a love that has changed the world, a peace that challenges politics, and a ministry that focuses on Good News among “the least of these," Christ was born.

In the words of Shane Claiborne:

“I love the story of one pastor who got fed up with all the decorations and clutter. He began to see that we are in danger of losing the very “reason for the season,” Jesus – the Jesus that was born in the middle of Herod’s bloody genocide, the Jesus who was born a refugee with no room in the inn, the Jesus who knew suffering from the cradle to the cross. This pastor went through the sanctuary the night before the big Christmas service and spread out manure all over the floor – nasty, stinky piles of turd. As folks came in the next day in their best attire, he preached … and did he ever. He preached about how the original story of Christmas was not about malls and decorations. He preached about a story that was not pretty. He preached about a God who enters the [crud] of this world and redeems all that is ugly and broken. It is a story they will never forget. It is the story of our faith.

That is the imagination that we need as we seek not to conform to the patterns of this world. It takes that kind of courage to exorcize the demons of greed that smell more each day like the seven deadly sins. But unto us a child is born … a child who has overcome the world.” (

December 5, 2008

Russian Orthodox Church Patriarch Alexy II Dies

By Jim Heintz
Associated Press
December 5, 2008

MOSCOW – Russian Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II, who presided over a vast post-Soviet revival of faith but struggled against the influence of other churches, died Friday at age 79.

The Moscow Patriarchate said he died at his residence outside Moscow, but did not give a cause of death. Alexy had long suffered from a heart ailment.

Alexy became leader of the church in 1990, as the officially atheist Soviet Union was loosening its restrictions on religion. After the Soviet Union collapsed the following year, the church's popularity surged. Church domes that had been stripped of their gold under the Soviets were regilded, churches that had been converted into warehouses or left to rot in neglect were painstakingly restored and hours-long services on major religious holidays were broadcast live on national television.

By the time of Alexy's death, the church's flock was estimated to include about two-thirds of Russia's 142 million people, making it the world's largest Orthodox church.

But Alexy often complained that Russia's new religious freedom put the church under severe pressure and he bitterly resented what he said were attempts by other Christian churches to poach adherents among people who he said should have belonged to the Orthodox church.......

A Short, Recent History of Congo

See the following for a short introductory history to the conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo:

December 4, 2008

Call for Prayer for the Democratic Republic of Congo - This Saturday

Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
Baptist World Alliance

December 4, 2008

Washington, D.C. (BWA)--Baptist women in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have invited Baptists everywhere to join them in prayer for their country on Saturday, December 6.

The special prayer emphasis is in response to the recent upsurge in fighting in the DRC between government forces, Mai-Mai pro-government militias, and a rebel group, the National Congress for the Defense of the People.

“The war is true and sad. People die day and night,” wrote Anne Ponzi, vice president of the Baptist Women’s Union of Africa, who lives in the DRC. “Those in refugee camps are in very bad conditions. Those left in towns, villages and hiding in forests are raped and maltreated. Young people are forced into the army. All these lead to diseases and epidemics,” she said.

“We the Congolese Baptist Women are planning a day of special intercession for war victims. The day is December 6, 2008,” said Ponzi.

At least 100 civilians have been killed, and an estimated 250,000 persons displaced by the latest round of fighting. Millions were already displaced in the DRC and bordering countries such as Uganda , Burundi and Rwanda as a result of the Second Congo War waged between 1998 and 2003, as well as other flare-ups since the official end of that war. The Second Congo War resulted in the deaths of an estimated four million people.

Baptist World Aid, the relief and development arm of the Baptist World Alliance, gave a grant of US$30,000 in November to provide food, water, and shelter for displaced persons in the DRC. (

Student Builds Water Wells in Africa

See the story of a high school student who challenged his classmates to take the money they would normally spend on American football mums (a traditional decoration usually worn by students in the fall) and donate the money to a fund that would build water wells in Africa:

These students raised enough money to build two wells that provide more than 10,000 people with daily access to clean water. The student, Blake Mankin, challenges us to consider the simply yet powerful phrase, “I am Second.”

December 3, 2008

BWA Release: BWA General Secretary Comforts Indian Baptists

Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
Baptist World Alliance

December 3, 2008For Immediate Release

Washington, D.C. (BWA)--Baptist World Alliance General Secretary Neville Callam has sent a letter of comfort to Baptists in India in the wake of the attacks in Mumbai, the country’s financial capital and largest city, in late November.

“I was in your capital city of Delhi on the night of November 26, 2008, when terrorists commenced their savage and senseless assault against your historic city of Mumbai ,” the letter read. “I am deeply saddened by the loss sustained by both my Indian brothers and sisters and the foreign nationals who have been innocently killed or wounded in what was a vicious coordinated attack on Mumbai.”

The BWA leader expressed regret and support on the behalf of Baptists everywhere. “On behalf of the worldwide Baptist family, I write to express our solidarity with you in this sad time of loss. We join you in prayer for those who mourn the loss of life in their families and communities.”

He urged Baptists to “join hands with all fellow Christians” and “to do whatever we can to thwart the growth of the cancer of terrorism and to bring peace and healing to our world.”

More than 170 persons were killed and almost 300 injured between November 26 and 29 in Mumbai when 10 gunmen staged several attacks in the city, including at hotels, restaurants, hospitals and a Jewish synagogue.

Callam was on a visit to India , Bangladesh , and Nepal during the month of November.


November 25, 2008

News Feed: Christians in Iraq

Some fearful Christians Hope to Flee Iraq
by Dennis D. Gray
Associated Press, 2008

TAL KAEEF, Iraq – Young Christian women in tight jeans mingle easily with Arab matrons draped in black, head-to-toe robes. Both church spires and mosque minarets rise above the low-slung houses. Violence is rare.

"The people here look out for each other — Arabs, Christians, Kurds, Yazidis. If all of Iraq was like this, it would be a great place," said 1st Lt. Jeremy Glosson, leading a U.S. Army patrol through Tal Kaeef's medieval-like alleys.

And yet, many Christians here say they want to flee a town where their ancestors have lived for generations and, if possible, to abandon a country where their religion has survived for some 2,000 years — longer than in Europe — but one they fear is growing ever more violent.........

November 21, 2008

BWA Release: Church Leaders Urge US President to Take Action on Anti-Christian Violence in India

Eron Henry, Associate Director of Communications
Neville Callam, General Secretary
Baptist World Alliance

November 21, 2008

Washington, D.C. (BWA)--Several church leaders in the United States have written to US President George W. Bush to protest the outbreak of violence against Christians in India, urging him “to hold the Indian government accountable to its own constitution, which guarantees freedom of religion and religious expression for all its citizens.”

The signatories, which include William Shaw, President of National Baptist Churches USA Inc, and Daniel Vestal, Executive Coordinator of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, urged the outgoing US president to express to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh “the US government’s abhorrence of the continued violence against Christians and other minorities within India ’s borders.”

The church leaders drew attention to the anti-Christian violence that has taken place since the slaying of a Hindu leader and four adherents in the eastern Indian state of Orissa on August 23, stating that, even though a radical Maoist group claimed responsibility for the killing, “The Vishwa Hindu Parishad (World Hindu Council) blamed the deaths on the Indian Christian community.”

“Hindu extremist groups fostered civil unrest, initially attacking poor Christians in India’s eastern state of Orissa as well as Christian agencies who serve the poor and the needy from diverse religious backgrounds in that state.” Now the violence has spread to several other Indian states, the letter said.

More than 60 Christians have died from the outbreak of violence, and an estimated 50,000 are left homeless.

The church leaders’ letter, which was sent on November 7, quoted a remark made by President Bush when he signed into law a nuclear agreement between the US and India on October 8, “This agreement sends a signal to the world – nations that follow the path to democracy and responsible behavior will find a friend in the United States .”

Shaw, Vestal, and the more than 20 other leaders of churches and parachurch organizations told the president, “You should insist, in the strongest terms, that these reprehensible groups and the assenting local government agencies be brought into conformity with India ’s rule of law. Only if India agrees and acts with goodwill toward all its citizens will it continue to be viewed as a responsible global partner worthy of a place on the world stage with other democratic nations.”

BWA General Secretary Neville Callam has written to the Indian prime minister expressing outrage at the violence, and the inability of the Indian authorities to curb the violence. In his letter sent on October 6, Callam expressed shock at “the grim situation facing Christians in Orissa,” and stated that he is “alarmed that it is taking so long to bring an end to the fierce persecution they are suffering.”

Callam urged the Indian leader “to intervene, in the best traditions of the Indian sub-continent, to bring relief to the people suffering in Orissa.”

See the related BWA Release: "Anti-Christian Violence Spreads in India,"

November 15, 2008

In His Hands

By Philip Mudzidzi

When I first heard the news on July 25th that a power-sharing deal had been brokered in Zimbabwe, I did not believe it though I was of the opinion that this was the needed alternative for a safe exit out of the dilemma we are in. Although we still desperately keep the hope, since the failure of that power-sharing deal, things are now worse than ever.

This challenge is definitely and directly affecting how we do ministry. For example, there are many young people, including Christian youth, who are now found in jails due to “criminal activities.” Many young people are struggling to be absorbed into the employment arena. Many of them are running informal and illegal business operations such as buying and selling foreign currency, but what else is there for them to do? Many are victims of human trafficking and find themselves sold out to prostitution and drug dealing when they had been promised work in hotels and restaurants. Some are crossing national borders without proper traveling documents and find themselves unable to secure decent jobs or accommodation and suffering from xenophobic violence.

Within this environment, since 2003 I have been serving as the National Youth/Student Director for our Convention and as such coordinate the planning and implementation of Youth/Student programs among more than 200 churches in Zimbabwe. Every year we host young people gatherings that range from an attendance of 300 to 1000 in order to promote fellowship, spiritual growth, mission partnerships and cultural exchanges. In April 2009 we will host a National Youth/Student Conference to celebrate our 45th Anniversary of our Youth/Student endeavors.

We also run a program called Volunteer Mission Adventure that provides an opportunity for youth to volunteer for community service to minister to the needy. Through these endeavors we have seen the disadvantaged in our churches, including the elderly, orphans and students, experience God’s hand of relief in their challenges. We are also using “Talent Explosion” to encourage our youth to develop their skills in art, music, drama and sports and to use those talents to share and minister the Gospel. In August 2008 we held a True Love Waits Campaign in the four regions our country. More than 450 youth participated and we trust that these efforts will help change the HIV/Aids pandemic while building families that are stronger.

I am so grateful to the Baptist World Alliance leaders who have allowed me an opportunity to be networked into the BWA family. I cherish my friendship with you. My experience with the BWA has given me a broad network of friends, wisdom, realization and appreciation about my role and function in the world as a fellow partner in ministry.

I would also ask that you would continue to pray for the:

1. Political indecision in our country
2. Millions who are starving
3. Zimbabwe Convention struggling to adjust to our unique identity and calling
4. 45th Anniversary Celebration of our Youth/Student programs
5. Wisdom and ability in my personal ministry, my postgraduate M.Th. studies and my family

(Many thanks to Philip Mudzidzi from Zimbabwe who is a member of the BWA Emerging Leaders Network and the National Youth/Student Director for the Zimbabwe Baptist Convention.)

November 11, 2008

Developing Into A Global Leader

I recently came across an article called “Developing Leaders for the Global Frontier” by Hal Gregerson, Allen Morrison and J. Stewart Black. Written for corporate executives to help them develop the skills and the personnel capable of leadership in a globalized, multicultural context, the authors identify five key characteristics of a global leader.

First, global leaders have an unbridled inquisitiveness. They engage in continuous learning and are “driven by a sense of adventure and a desire to see and experience new things.”

Second, global leaders must have a strong emotional connection based on an “interest and concern for others” that seeks a sincere “understanding of different viewpoints.”

Third, global leaders are undergirded with integrity.

Fourth, global leaders embrace duality by balancing certainty and uncertainty, waiting and initiative.

Fifth, global leaders develop business and organizational savvy though a deep understanding of market trends, ongoing development of personal competence and expertise, an intimate knowledge of their organizations’ strengths and weaknesses, and regular networking with other key leaders from around the world.

The authors recommend several strategies individuals and companies can utilize to develop truly global leaders: travel frequently, establish and personally work on teams with a diverse background and perspective, seek further training and mentoring from key leaders, and look for transfer opportunities in multiple departments or other related organizations in order to broaden your understanding and capability.

In the midst of a multi-cultural, interdependent world, leadership will be increasingly defined by individuals who intentionally develop the capacity, skills, knowledge and humility to serve as global leaders. What are your thoughts on these five key characteristics?

(See Hal B. Gregerson, Allen J. Morrison and J. Stewart Black, “Developing Leaders for the Global Frontier,” in Cross-Cultural Management, Volume II. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, 2003.)

November 7, 2008

An Update on Assam, India

In a post on October 8, 2008, it was noted that Christian believers in the state of Assam had been threatened with recent persecution. One month later there has still been no significant improvement and violence has continued to escalate against civilians of all faiths.

Last Thursday, October 30th, in the state of Assam, bombs in 11 different cities were detonated killing 84 and injuring more than 400. One of these explosions occurred outside one of the oldest Baptist churches in northeast India, killing three.

Please see the following picture of the Baptist church and let us renew our prayers for peace, conflict resolution and for the comfort of all who have been affected by this violence.

October 8, 2008

Christian Communities in India Targeted

By a Baptist leader in India

Persecution in India is going on in isolated areas; even our district Karbi Anglong is not that safe anymore. New believers are being threatened and deprived of their basic rights and resources.

The Virvar area where our two church planters are ministering is likely going to be the epicenter for an outbreak of a hate campaign against the Christian community in our Karbi Anglong district. For example, two families (from a nearby village who started to embrace Christ recently) were five times forced to go to their village council meeting where they were beaten. In addition, the houses of the two families were also demolished. We made several attempts to broker peace and understanding but were not successful. Three days ago we went there, and an angry mob (villagers) gathered around us, and we could hardly even speak with them. So in some measure, a psychosis of fear is prevailing.

Even in this situation, 12 new youths are undergoing 20 days training and they are ready to go on an outreach ministry for 40 days in the remote areas that are the least evangelized.

Our workload is increasing but our time and resources seem to be dwindling in relation to meeting the needs. We are committing our lives and work to Him who called us, as He is faithful and able to protect us and fulfill the mission.

Thank you for your prayers.

Editors Note: The above comes in the form of an update and prayer request from a young Baptist leader in India. In recent weeks parts of India have seen the rise of intentional targeting of the Christian community leading BWA General Secretary Neville Callam to issue a letter to Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh ( See also the following two stories by the Economist:
"Marching as to War" (,
"The Corss They Bear"

October 7, 2008

Living in the Global Community

By Melody Maxwell

The World is Bigger Than My Context.
It’s easy for me to be consumed by demands of everyday life—work deadlines, church committees, school assignments, family responsibilities—and lose sight of the bigger picture. Sitting in a room with people from dozens of countries puts my concerns in perspective: God’s world is bigger than my world. I have the opportunity—and the responsibility—to listen to and learn from others. I may find that other Baptist groups have very different traditions and perspectives from my own. And I just may learn something valuable as a result.

The West doesn’t have the corner on theology.
In the past, I’ve sometimes been far more interested in snatching up the latest book by the hip thirty-something American church leader than in reading a discussion on the theology of the African church. But after hearing captivating ideas from leaders around the world, I realize that my perspective is far too narrow if I only listen to people who are like me. We in the West need the dynamic, emerging theologies of other contexts—and they need us—to breathe fresh life into our thinking.

Friendship crosses cultural boundaries.
What do a descendant of a slave owner and a descendant of a slave have in common? Plenty, if they’re followers of Jesus! Meeting new friends from around the world has demonstrated to me the power of cross-cultural relationships. It doesn’t matter if our countries, or even our Baptist bodies, have a history of disagreement or conflict. Hearing each other’s stories and praying for one another gives our group a connection that transcends human cultural barriers and reveals a glimpse of the eternal kingdom of God .

World news affects everyone.
After meeting Baptist leaders from around the world, I’ll no longer flip the channel when the news anchor starts reporting on current events in India , or delete an email about religious freedom in Zimbabwe . Now, those places aren’t just dots on a map—they’re represented by faces of my friends. As a result of conversations with other emerging leaders, I understand that my country’s policies affect them, and the actions of their governments have an indirect influence on me as well. I’ve learned that to understand today’s world, global Christians must be global citizens.

**Many thanks to Melody Maxwell who is a member of the BWA Emerging Leaders Network and a magazine editor with the Women's Missionary Union (WMU).

October 1, 2008

This Week in History: Emerging Leader Biography

More than fifteen hundred years ago on September 30, 420 the man Sophronius Eusebius Hieronymus passed away in Bethlehem. History records the work of this man under the much shorter name of Jerome.

Born in a far northeastern corner of Italy, Jerome moved to Rome at the age of 12 and was baptized at 19. Before his death Jerome would complete one of the most important translations of the Scriptures – the Vulgate – a translation that eventually became the standard Bible of the Latin-speaking church. Jerome also completed a number of important Old and New Testament commentaries and his writings have had a deep and permanent influence.

In what would eventually become a ministry of global impact, Jerome began his translation of the Bible in 382 at the age of 35.

(For more on Jerome see Justo L. Gonzalez, The Story of Christianity: Complete in One Volume The Early Church to the Present Day. Peabody: Prince Press, 1999, 201-6.)

September 29, 2008

Reflections on BWA Experience in Prague

By Samson and Adebola Fatokun

The Prague experience ---

How great it was to be in Prague gathering again with brethren from the Emerging Leaders Network (ELN) and the Baptist community from all over the world. What a refreshing moment of reunion it was!

Just like in Accra, the previous year, the Emerging Leaders’ programme started ahead of the General Session. David Coffey’s teaching on Leadership Qualities was not only remarkable but challenged me to go back and have a noticeable impact on my community. There and then, I received a new vision for a new ministry, which I am henceforth committed to. God used that moment to talk to me loud and clear. As David said, “If you do not take any action in the next three months after leaving this place, you are not likely to take any action at all”; the vision has been shared with my mentor, my church pastor and the General Secretary of the Nigerian Baptist Convention. The vision is so big that it can only be God’s project and the zeal of the Lord will fulfill the vision.

As we meet next year in Amsterdam, at the third meeting of the ELN, you will be informed on how far the Lord has moved in fulfilling the vision he gave me in Prague.

As you remember Prague ---

As in Ghana where emotions in our hearts rose at the slave house memorial and reconciliation service, in Prague the short film on Jan Hus who stood by the authority of the Scripture against threats from the Roman Catholic authorities even to the point of being burnt at the stake also strongly touched my spirit and humbled me. What a level of commitment that was!

During the city tour organized by the Emerging Leaders Network, I noticed through many statues and ancient church buildings the strong traces of Christianity in the history of the Czech people. But today, almost the entire population of the Czech Republic does not know God. I felt very sad.

But rather than being discouraged, three of us in the ELN, were encouraged by the spirit of commitment of Jan Hus and we embarked on a Prayer walk through the city of Prague interceding for the Czech Republic and earnestly praying for a revival that will turn the hearts of the Czech people to the living God.

And as you remember Prague, do not only remember the beautiful city but also remember the major negative shift in belief in that city and join us in interceding for a revival in the land.

** Many thanks to Samson and Adebola Fatokun who are from Nigeria and are members of the BWA Emerging Leaders Network. Samson and Adebola are both employed within the airline industry and active within their local congregation.

September 26, 2008

Our Prayers - For Those Caught in the Path of Hurricanes

I recently saw on the news that this week for the first time 45,000 people will be allowed to return to their homes on the coast of Texas following the devastation of Hurricane Ike. Hurricane Ike followed on the heels of Hurricanes Gustav and Hanna that have collectively adversely affected Haiti, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, the Cayman Islands, Cuba, the United States, and the Turks and Caicos Islands. According to a recent BWA report, one pastor in Cuba reported that Gustav damaged or destroyed some 86,000 houses and that ‘all three hurricanes have caused hundreds of deaths and left tens of thousands homeless.’ (See the full BWA report at:

For those of you who have been caught in the path of these and other recent natural disasters we want you to know that our thoughts and prayers are with you and know that the journey for recovery will be long and difficult.

For those of you caught in the middle what has this experience been like for you and what are some of your prayer requests?

September 25, 2008


Welcome to the Emerging Leaders Network Blog of the Baptist World Alliance! This is a forum for Baptist young leaders in the more than 100 countries represented within the BWA to connect with one another. We welcome your feedback as more than anything else this is a point of conversation. All are welcome.

Throughout August as I watched the 2008 Olympics my thoughts kept drifting to the meaning of the often repeated phrase, ‘global community.’ What does it mean to live in global community?

Among other things it surely implies interdependence. Beyond nations, geographies and ethnicities there stretches a more fundamental thread that weaves us together. As the author of Genesis stated, ‘The Lord God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.’ (2:7)

Hopefully interdependence implies more than a vague connection to one another. As in the African ethic of Ubuntu: a person is a person only through other persons. Without you I cannot be me. Without you our community is incomplete. We need the culture you represent, the language you speak, the communal traditions that shape your background, the gifts you possess. Though rooted into our own specific contexts we are interdependent and we should be guided by an ethic to stretch out our hands to fellow sisters and brothers around the world in truth, transparency, equality, love and when requested, acts of solidarity. As one poem states:

‘I sought my soul, but my soul I could not see.
I sought my God, but my God eluded me.
I sought my brother, and I found all three.’

As you have questions or concerns; reports, pictures and events in your region of the world; ideas related to ministry and personal discipleship; or any other comments please feel free to pass them on. (Please note the Blog Guidelines. Care will be taken when sharing sensitive information.)

Stretched around the world we are a global community of emerging leaders bound by the common breath of our humanity, enriched by backgrounds of diversity, committed to the holistic advancement of the kingdom of God. We are interdependent.

What does living in ‘global community’ mean to you?