August 4, 2009

Leena Lavanya Accepts BWA Human Rights Award

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

Leena Lavanya Kumari of Narasaraopet, Andhra Pradesh, India, accepted the 2009 Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award on Saturday, August 1, in Ede, Netherlands.

The award was recognition of Lavanya's philanthropic work, human rights advocacy, and church planting endeavors in Narasaraopet and surrounding towns and villages. Lavanya's Serve Trust Ministries operates a home for the aged, a home for lepers, homes for HIV/AIDS-infected children and adults, and an HIV/AIDS counseling center.

Lavanya, described as "a living saint steeped in prayer and a love for the scriptures," also runs a computer training school for unemployed females and impoverished youth, as well as an elementary school for children living in one of the depressed areas of Narasaraopet. In the town of Chilakaluripet, Lavanya operates training programs for female sex workers and their daughters with the hope that these women and their daughters would break the cycle of prostitution.

She began her ministry after attending the Baptist Youth World Conference in Harare, Zimbabwe, in 1993, in response to a challenge by noted speaker Tony Campolo for youth to fully surrender their lives to Christ.

Lavanya is the granddaughter of a former BWA vice president and seminary professor, and the child of committed Baptist Christians. Her parents were present in Ede to share in her receipt of the BWA Human Rights Award.

On Friday, July 31, BWA President David Coffey received the "Baptist of the Year Award" for 2008 from the Baptist Center for Ethics, based in Nashville, Tennessee, in the United States. Robert Parham, founder and executive director, presented the award to Coffey.

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