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.