Callam receives leadership award
- Created: Friday, 27 March 2015
Baptist World Alliance®
© March 27, 2015
Easter Message 2015
- Created: Wednesday, 25 March 2015
Full freedom in utter reliance
The multiple dimensions of the church's vocation require that true humility attend the living out of our ecclesial identity.
Christians understand this because they know something of the power of powerlessness, the might of weakness, and the wealth of poverty. In their worship and witness, in their mission and service, they are meant to unveil the humility that selflessness breathes.
During this season of the Christian year, we celebrate the resurrection of the one who did not consider equality with God as something to be grasped. Instead, he practiced self-emptying love and so opened the doorway to eternal life for us.
From the cross, the one who calmed the winds, healed the sick and raised the dead stares down at us powerless. He faces the consequences of a travesty of justice. He is wounded for the wrong we did; crushed for our sinful action. He wears the robes of a victim who is helpless before the violence of a misguided mob.
Then comes Easter Day! We discover that the man on the cross is victor, not victim. Mercilessly nailed to a cross, he is actually lifted up to draw humankind to God. The one dressed in the rags of powerlessness at the cross actually shows us where to find true power and how to manifest true strength. Not surprisingly, on Easter morning, God raises him from the grave, his mission being accomplished.
We can now affirm that part of the vocation of the church is to model one value that lies at the very heart of our life: humble vulnerability. Jesus' followers know that the weak can say, "I am strong" and the poor can say, "I am rich." And this is the result of God's work in the death and resurrection of our Jesus the Christ.
At Easter, we remember that, where there is weakness, God's power can be powerfully shown. To believe this is to recognize that full freedom can be found only in utter reliance on the dependable one who is our Savior.
Baptist World Alliance
Rwandan to receive international human rights award
- Created: Wednesday, 18 March 2015
Corneille Gato Munyamasoko, general secretary of the Association of Baptist Churches in Rwanda (AEBR), is the recipient of the 2015 Baptist World Alliance Congress Quinquennial Human Rights Award.
The award, presented every five years, will be given in July in Durban, South Africa, where the 21st Baptist World Congress, the first in Africa, will be held.
Munyamasoko, who has dedicated his life to peace and reconciliation and fighting the stigma associated with HIV and AIDS, was born in exile in what was then Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), to refugee parents who fled Rwanda in 1959 when outbreaks of ethnic violence shook regions of the country.
While working as a teacher in the DRC, Munyamasoko joined other youth leaders to bring various factions together, helping to overcome national rivalries and ethnic differences between Rwandans and Congolese, restoring harmony and reducing interpersonal conflicts.
The 1994 genocide in Rwanda was a turning point for Munyamasoko and his family. The arrival of genocidaires from Rwanda (those who committed genocide in that country) led to killings of Tutsi people in the DRC.
Munyamasoko and his family returned to Rwanda to participate in the reconstruction of the country. Munyamasoko had connections with the Association of Baptist Churches of Rwanda and was appointed as a high school principal in a region that bordered the DRC.
Armed genocidaires made regular incursions across the border from DRC into Rwanda. On one occasion the entire student body of a nearby boarding school was killed. Munyamasoko and his wife, Anne-Marie, opened their home to accept genocide orphans as their own children.
Pastors of the AEBR recognized Munyamasoko’s leadership gifts and elected him deputy general secretary of the denomination. His responsibilities included pastoral duties in a congregation, regional church leadership and oversight of 51 schools.
Munyamasoko was convinced the future of Rwanda depended on building a culture of peace among young people. The majority of adolescents had witnessed acts of violence during the genocide. Some students were Tutsi survivors. Munyamasoko launched peace and reconciliation clubs in each of the secondary schools under his jurisdiction and appointed school chaplains.
He was appointed director of development ministries of the AEBR and participated in integral mission, training that combined the disciplines of community development and biblical theology. While working in this position, he developed regional initiatives that assisted Hutu and Tutsi participants to understand the causes of the genocide, to seek and to extend forgiveness, and to build relationships based on the principles of justice, mercy and faith.
With the assistance of a colleague, Laurena Zondo of Canada, Munyamasoko launched a peace camp movement in 2010. The peace camps bring young women and men together from various provinces in Rwanda. Over a period of one week, participants form an intentional community of equality, respect, creativity and dialogue. At each camp, Munyamasoko leads the group to consider the painful background of Rwanda’s ethnic divisions. Peace camp participants engage in music, drama, art and poetry that help to bring healing and reconciliation. These camps have received government recognition for their impact.
Munyamasoko’s commitment to peace has not been limited to Rwanda. He works on both sides of the DRC-Rwanda border. During times of tension between the two countries, Munyamasoko met with church leaders and congregations in the DRC. He visited and worked with Kenyan church leaders after the 2007 election violence that shook that country. Munyamasoko later returned to Kenya to assist churches to prepare to act as agents of peace and to offer places of safety in preparation for the 2013 national elections.
In his fight against stigmatization of those who suffer from HIV and AIDs, Munyamasoko said, “As a human being but also as a pastor, I have always been touched by the stigmatization of HIV/AIDS infected and affected people in our churches, and since then I initiated an anti-stigmatization campaign among pastors in AEBR.” Pastors are trained to become role models for those who are caregivers, a campaign which Munyamasoko claims to have had great success. Stigmatization, he asserted, “is no longer an issue in our congregations.”
In 2013, Munyamasoko was elected general secretary of the AEBR, a position in which he now serves.
Baptists affected by insurgency in Nigeria
- Created: Thursday, 19 March 2015
At least 32 Baptist churches and just fewer than 2,000 individual Baptists have been affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in Nassarawa State and parts of Benue State in Nigeria.
These are just the latest in a series of attacks. Previous attacks have occurred in Adamawa State, which includes the predominantly Christian city of Mubi and that of other states such as Borno, Yobe, Taraba and Bauchi.
The comprehensive report, submitted by Samson Olasupo Ayokunle, president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, indicated that most of the damage was caused by vandalism and the burning of churches, residences of pastors and the homes of Baptist members.
In other instances, a number of Baptist members were killed, women were raped and farms destroyed.
Cryptic descriptions include: “Farm products destroyed, rape and scattering of members”; “Pastorium burned and church vandalized, members houses burned”; “Pastorium, church auditorium and member houses all set ablaze”; “Church invaded by insurgents, pastorium and members houses burned.”
Ayokunle asserted that the insurgency in northern Nigeria “comes most of the time through Fulani herdsmen who go about with AK-47 rifles and other sophisticated weapons to kill farmers in their villages when they are fast asleep in the night.”
He alleged that many of the insurgents are from outside of Nigeria, which makes the support of Cameroon, Chad and Niger important as Boko Haram terrorists would not have havens to hide.
The Nigerian Baptist leader told the Baptist World Alliance that the Nigerian government, with assistance from Cameroon, Chad and Niger, has had success in repelling Boko Haram in recent days.
Ayokunle expressed gratitude for prayers offered on behalf of his country.
“I must also acknowledge the effects of prayers of many saints who are joining us in prayer toward overcoming this bloodshed which the Islamic Fundamentalists embarked upon in our country. The insurgents all over the world will not prevail in the name of Jesus."
Assistance to those who have been displaced may be made online at www.bwanet.org or sent to:
Baptist World Aid
c/o Baptist World Alliance
405 North Washington Street
Falls Church, VA 22046
Baptist World Alliance®
© March 19, 2015
Baptist congress early bird registration extended
- Created: Wednesday, 18 March 2015
At its recently concluded meetings in early March, the Executive Committee of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) responded to appeals for an extension of the early bird registration for the 21st Baptist World Congress to be held in Durban, South Africa, from July 22-26.
The new early bird deadline is April 15.
The Executive Committee’s decision was based on adverse conditions that existed at the time when the early registration fee was in effect, which influenced some people not to register. With the significant change in the situation, the Executive Committee favorably considered requests for an extension of the discounts that applied during the early bird period.
Persons from Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Japan, Macau, New Zealand, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, the United States and Western Europe will pay US$200 until April 15 and US$250 after that date.
Registrants from other countries in Asia, Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Central Europe and Eastern Europe will pay US$150 until April 15 and US$200 thereafter.
South African residents will pay a set fee of US$100 regardless of the time of registration, as will youth ages 12-18 who will pay US$50 and children from 5-11 years old, US$25.
Registration is best done on the Baptist World Alliance website at www.bwanet.org/congress.
Online registration closes on July 10, 2015.
The Executive Committee offered thanks to God for the remarkable progress made in dealing with the Ebola crisis in West Africa. Some Committee members had recently visited South Africa. BWA President John Upton and others had just returned from a meeting of the All Africa Baptist Fellowship in Kenya. Everyone rejoiced that normality has returned to West Africa, and celebrated the decline in fear of travel to the African continent.
In an address to the Executive Committee, Duro Ayanrinola, BWA regional secretary for Africa, expressed appreciation and thanks for the prayers and support Baptists worldwide have given to people in the countries that were affected by Ebola. Ayanrinola was sorrowful over those who were victims of the disease.
Recognizing the changed situation in West Africa, he appealed for all to “Come over to Africa. There is no more Ebola. You are safe. Come over to Africa. Ebola is behind us by the grace of God. Come over to Africa and praise God with us!”
Ayanrinola told Executive Committee members that he and other Baptist leaders have been mobilizing African Baptists to attend the congress, and that Baptists in Africa are eagerly awaiting a vast turn out from the worldwide family of Baptists to Durban.