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.