Baptists join others in mission during Rio Summer Games

Baptists, along with other Christian traditions in Brazil, are engaged in mission outreach to the city of Rio de Janeiro and its visitors during the 2016 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. The Olympic Games will formally run from August 5-21 while the Paralympics will be held September 7-18.

More than 11,000 athletes from 206 National Olympic Committees are expected to participate in the Summer Olympics.

Dubbed Open Arms Movement (Movimento Braços Abertos) or MBA 2016, the mission initiative seeks to connect and coordinate “the involvement of evangelical churches and agencies in the proclamation of gospel before and during the Great Sport Events that will take place in the city of Rio de Janeiro in 2016.”

Declaring that “the Body of Christ will have a unique opportunity,” persons were encouraged to volunteer through prayer, training, giving and active witnessing.

It is a “unique opportunity to do missionary work or cross-cultural evangelism … and to proclaim the love of God by a culturally relevant way for those who are coming from other countries, including those countries considered closed to the gospel,” the planners stated.

In preparation, prayer vigils were held on the second Friday of each month. “Christians from different churches, evangelical organizations and missionary agencies [gathered] at the sanctuary of a different church denomination.” Vigils were held throughout the night, from 10:00 p.m. until 6:00 a.m.

“We pray for Rio de Janeiro city and state, Brazil and everything else we are going to do,” the organizers stated.

Participating groups include the Carioca (City of Rio) Baptist Convention, part of the Brazilian Baptist Convention, along with the Salvation Army, the Assemblies of God, other Christian traditions, mission agencies, parachurch groups and Christian athletes’ organizations.

Baptist church groups from outside Brazil, such as the Seventh Day Baptist Missionary Society, have also planned short term mission trips to Rio to coincide with the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Baptist World Alliance®
© August 5, 2016

Donation to BWA made more secure

Over the past two weeks, the donation (Give) button on the Baptist World Alliance website did not work as intended and persons using it may have received an error message.

The glitch occurred while the BWA installed an extra layer of security on the website to ensure the continued safety of the personal information of those who make donations. The matter has now been resolved.

At no time before or after the glitch occurred, and the extra security added, was the personal information of any of our donors placed at risk. Be assured that the system is safe and indeed, has been strengthened.

We look forward to your continued support to the various ministries of the Baptist World Alliance as you make your donations at www.bwanet.org/online-giving.

Baptist World Alliance®
© July 27, 2016

Appeals made to Baptists to help refugees

An illegal refugee camp at a gas station in GreeceThe Baptist World Alliance is appealing to Baptists in affected countries to assist those who are displaced.

While acknowledging “the profound challenges created in many parts of our world by the movement of millions of refugees and displaced persons,” the international umbrella organization for Baptists “calls upon its member bodies, affiliated churches, and individual believers to actively embrace opportunities for Christian ministry and witness that exemplify the biblical teaching.”

Baptist groups in Syria, Lebanon and Jordan, as well as in European countries such as Germany, Sweden, Croatia, Serbia and elsewhere, have provided personnel and supplies to assist those who are displaced.

However, the BWA is concerned about those who have not been as engaged, or who have been less than welcoming in their remarks and actions. The organization points out that biblical motifs such as love for the stranger and “Jesus’ teaching to love our neighbors as ourselves” should guide the actions of Baptists and other Christians.

The BWA is encouraging “Christian believers to personally engage with all refugees and displaced persons, generously showing God’s love and care as we demonstrate the sufficiency of God made known through Jesus Christ.”

Baptist World Alliance®
©July 8, 2016

Baptists urge UN to raise threat designation for Nigeria

The main international organization that represents Baptists globally is telling the United Nations it needs to raise the designated threat level for Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region.

Declaring that the area is rife with conflict and dislocation, the Baptist World Alliance asserts that “violence, murder, and kidnapping [have] directly impacted more than 14 million people with between three and five million being internally displaced.”

This has resulted “in rampant malnutrition, leaving thousands of persons on the verge of starvation.”

The threat level, the BWA says, must be raised to Level 3, the “most severe large scale humanitarian crisis.”

Extremists in Nigeria, mainly the violent Islamist group, Boko Haram, and Fulani militants, have led a series of attacks in Nigeria and neighboring countries such as Cameroon, Chad and Niger. Millions lost property, home and agricultural produce, and have had to flee to elsewhere in their own nations or into other countries.

The BWA notes that “people of faith and houses of worship have been intentionally targeted, including the damage or destruction of thousands of churches and numerous mosques.”

Samson Ayokunle, president of the Nigerian Baptist Convention, has castigated the international community for ignoring terrorist violence and attacks in the West African country.

He accused the world community of devaluing Nigerian lives. "Does it not matter to the rest of the world if Boko Haram continues to kill hundreds of people every week? Are these people less human than those being killed in other places where they have gone to directly intervene? My people are being killed like animals and the whole world is just watching,” Ayokunle said after a particularly brutal series of attacks in Nigeria.

The BWA invites Baptists everywhere “to stand in solidarity with Nigeria and the Lake Chad Region, to pray for the development of transformative peace throughout the country and region, and to actively work to build a context of justice, human rights, rule of law, and religious freedom for all people.”

Baptist World Alliance®
© July 8, 2016

Baptists and Catholics to begin third round of dialogue in 2017

The Baptist World Alliance is to begin a third round of theological dialogue with the Catholic Church in 2017. This was announced by General Secretary Neville Callam in his report to the BWA General Council at its meeting in Vancouver, Canada, in July.

“On the basis of discussions between BWA and the Pontifical Council for Promoting Christian Unity (PCPCU), a third round of Baptist-Catholic dialogue will commence soon,” Callam wrote.

In May this year, preparatory meetings were held between Baptist representatives Frank Rees of Australia, Paul Fiddes from the United Kingdom and Timothy George of the United States “with a team from the Catholic Church to consider the focus and methodology for the upcoming phase of the Baptist-Catholic dialogue,” Callam stated.

“This joint preparatory meeting decided that the next phase of dialogue, which could commence in June 2017, should have clear continuity with the first two phases and should focus on the subject of common witness to Jesus Christ,” Callam elaborated. “A final statement on the purpose and plan for the upcoming dialogue is to be concluded in the near future.”

The first round of Baptist-Catholic dialogue occurred from 1984-1988 and the second round from 2006-2010. “We would be pleased to build on these two previous dialogues and explore new areas of discussion,” Cardinal Koch, president of the PCPCU, said in a letter to Callam in February. “These official dialogues were cause for great celebration and gratitude to God,” Koch declared.

The BWA and the Vatican have experienced close cordial relations in recent times, building on the goodwill that emerged out of the first two rounds of dialogues. In October 2013, Timothy George represented the BWA at the Thirteenth Ordinary General Synod of Bishops of the Catholic Church on The New Evangelization for the Transmission of the Christian Faith.

In October of the following year, 2014, Valerie Duval-Poujol, a French Baptist biblical scholar, represented the BWA at the Extraordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops that discussed important issues facing contemporary families.

Roy Medley, recently retired general secretary of American Baptist Churches in the USA, was a fraternal delegate of the BWA at the Fourteenth Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops of the Catholic Church which took place in Rome in October 2015.

The BWA leadership was represented at the March 2013 inauguration of Pope Francis I.

A four-year dialogue between the BWA and the World Methodist Council is currently underway, which runs 2014-2017.

Baptist World Alliance®
©July 7, 2016