BWA UN rep to receive human rights award

Christer Daelander, a Baptist World Alliance representative to the United Nations (UN) and religious freedom representative of the European Baptist Federation (EBF), is the nominee for the 2018 Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award.

The nomination was announced to the Executive Committee of the BWA on March 7 at its meeting in Falls Church, Virginia, in the United States. The award is to be presented during the General Council meeting in Zurich, Switzerland, in July.

Established in 2006, the Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award is given by the BWA for significant and effective activities to secure, protect, restore or preserve human rights.

It includes all rights stated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other declared rights by UN bodies such as the General Assembly, the Security Council, the Economic and Social Council, the Trusteeship Council and the International Court of Justice.

Daelander, of Sweden, is an official BWA representative to the UN Human Rights Office in Geneva, Switzerland, working closely with representatives from the Vatican and other Christian traditions. He has engaged religious freedom issues in Europe, the Middle East and, especially, Central Asia.

Daelander provided firsthand accounts of religious freedom violations in Tajikistan and Azerbaijan to UN Periodic Reviews. He visited Central Asia making contacts with representatives of governments, embassies and organizations, such as the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe.

In November 2017, Daelander brought together key people from Christian minority communities in Central Asia, offering training and practical tools to defend religious freedom in their own context.

“Christer is a primary example of Baptist commitment to human rights and freedom,” declared BWA General Secretary Elijah Brown. “His deep faith in God and his commitment to the church exemplify the liberating power we have in Christ Jesus. We commend him for his loyalty, faith and service.”

The EBF said Daelander’s selflessness and faithfulness have “led to renewed action on behalf of human rights and religious liberty within our community.” He is Christ-like “in dealing with all” and is “a faithful advocate for authentic Baptist witness.”

Karin Wiborn, general secretary of the Swedish Christian Council, said, “Christer is doing outstanding advocacy work for human rights in the Uniting Church in Sweden, in the EBF and on the behalf of the BWA.”

Appreciation was expressed to the Uniting Church in Sweden, where he holds membership, for releasing him for this wider ministry.

Previous recipients of the award were Cynthia Maung of Myanmar/Thailand in 2017, Ilie Coada of Moldova in 2014, Glen Stassen of the United States in 2013, Edgar Palacios from El Salvador in 2012, Wati Aier of India in 2011, Leena Lavanya of India in 2009, Dennis Datta from Bangladesh in 2008, João and Nora Matwawana of Angola in 2007 and Gustavo Parajón from Nicaragua in 2006.

Baptist World Alliance®
©March 7, 2018

Billy Graham: A Personal Statement

On behalf of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), General Secretary Emeritus Denton Lotz, family member and long time friend of Billy Graham, issues the following personal statement:

The world has lost a great spiritual leader. Christians have lost a great evangelist. What was the basis of his spiritual strength? The strength of Billy Graham was his humility in the face of Christ! I remember when he began to preach in Eastern Europe. A Hungarian bishop who hosted him one day said, "You know the Communists said only bad things about Billy Graham, but now that I have been with him I know that his power comes from his humility before God!" It was an honor to accompany him on many of his trips to Eastern Europe where thousands suffering under communism were encouraged. Many gave their hearts to Christ.

I remember during the Vietnam War when we were in Geneva and some students were protesting. Billy went up to them and in Christian love talked to them and befriended them. He was not ashamed of the Gospel. Whether speaking to kings or queens or peasant farmers he respected all peoples. One of his great contributions to America and the world was his call for racial reconciliation. He was a friend of Martin Luther King Jr. Both recognized the power of the Gospel.

Billy Graham was an evangelist for the world, beyond denominationalism. He called men and women to Christ, not to his own tradition. Pope John Paul II was his friend. Once when I brought the pope greetings from Dr. Graham, his eyes lit up and he returned the greetings with thanks. Nevertheless, Dr. Graham was pleased to be part of the Baptist tradition. Since 1950 until 1990 he preached at every Baptist World Alliance congress. In later years, he was distressed at the disunity among Baptists. The call of Christ was a call for unity. At the SBC (Southern Baptist Convention) Convention in 1995 in Atlanta, USA, he admonished us all, "Support the Baptist World Alliance!" It was always a joy to count on Dr. Graham's support and encouragement.

Evangelicalism has lost its leader. It seems that we are now fragmented. But the question is not, "Who will be the next Billy Graham?" The question is, "Are Christians worldwide open to the movement of the Holy Spirit in their lives the way Dr. Graham was?" "The Lord giveth. The Lord taketh away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!"

The Baptist family around the world mourns the loss of this great man who did so much to advance the Kingdom of God here on earth.

The Baptist World Alliance, founded in 1905, is a fellowship of 238 conventions and unions in 124 countries and territories comprising 47 million baptized believers in 169,000 churches.

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Baptist World Alliance®
©February 27, 2018

 

 

ABM protesta nueva ley boliviana

La Alianza Bautista Mundial se une a otros grupos y organizaciones cristianas en protesta contra una nueva y ambigua ley en Bolivia que podría convertir el proselitismo en ilegal y poner a quienes lo hacen en riesgo de ser enjuiciados y encarcelados.

En una carta a los legisladores en Bolivia, el Secretario General de la Alianza Bautista Mundial Elijah Brown expresó su preocupación "de que la ambigüedad de estas leyes pueda llevar a restricciones no deseadas  a la libertad religiosa y a la persecución directa de iglesias y personas de fe".

Brown dijo que sus preocupaciones no eran solo para los bautistas, " sino para todos los que puedan verse restringidos de vivir de acuerdo con los dictados de su conciencia”.

En una traducción de Evangelical Focus, un sitio web de noticias y opinión de Europa, la ley ofensiva declara que "Quien recluta, transporta, priva de libertad o aloja personas con el objetivo de reclutarlas para participar en conflictos armados u organizaciones religiosas o de culto será penalizado con 7 a 12 años de prisión”.

El temor es que la ley pueda prohibir la predicación pública y castigar el mero hecho de invitar a alguien a un evento cristiano u otro evento religioso.

Según Evangelical Focus, la nueva ley colisiona con la constitución del país. El artículo 4 de la Constitución boliviana dice: "El Estado respeta y garantiza la libertad de religión y las creencias espirituales, de acuerdo con sus cosmovisiones. El Estado es independiente de la religión”.

En su carta, Brown expresó la esperanza de que " libertad de religión y expresión se fortalezca" y dijo que los bautistas están orando "por el bienestar continuo de Bolivia".

También puso a la Alianza Bautista Mundial a disposición del gobierno boliviano y otras autoridades para un mayor diálogo sobre el tema.

Se alienta a los bautistas en otras partes del mundo a unirse a los cristianos bolivianos que han declarado el domingo 21 de enero un día de oración y ayuno. También se les insta a hacer representaciones a las misiones diplomáticas bolivianas en sus respectivos países sobre las preocupaciones de la Alianza Bautista Mundial sobre la nueva ley.

La Alianza Bautista Mundial tiene dos organizaciones miembro en Bolivia, la Convención Bautista de Bolivia y la Unión Bautista Boliviana, que comprende más de 50,000 miembros en más de 300 iglesias.

Se puede descargar una versión en inglés y otro en español de la carta de la Alianza en el sitio web de la Alianza Bautista Mundial.

Acerca de la Alianza Bautista Mundial
La Alianza Bautista Mundial, fundada en 1905, es una confraternidad de 238 Convenciones y Uniones en 124 países y territorios que comprenden 48 millones de miembros en 169,000 iglesias. Sus prioridades son nutrir la pasión por la misión y el evangelismo; promover el culto, el compañerismo y la unidad; respondiendo a personas necesitadas; defendiendo los derechos humanos y la justicia; y avanzando la reflexión teológica relevante.

 

BWA Day 2018 in February

The observance of Baptist World Alliance (BWA) Day is on February 3 and 4, depending on whether Baptists worship on Saturday or Sunday.

Worship resources for the observance are available on the BWA website in various languages. They can be downloaded at www.bwanet.org.

The liturgy was prepared by Lina Toth (Andronoviene) of Lithuania, assistant principal and lecturer in Practical Theology at the Scottish Baptist College of the University of the West of Scotland.

A musician, artist and theologian, she has special interest in exploring various aspects of ethics, spirituality and theology of culture.

The BWA Day celebration is aimed at affirming Baptist identity within the worldwide Christian family. Baptists are encouraged to pray for each other and to renew their commitment to cooperate with Baptists globally through the BWA.

BWA Day has been celebrated since 1927 when the BWA Executive Committee, meeting in London, England, asked BWA President Edgar Mullins and General Secretary John Rushbrooke to prepare a "Special Statement" to express clearly the purpose of the BWA. The statement emphasized that the BWA "seeks to express and promote unity and fellowship among the Baptists of the world."

BWA Day is normally observed on the first weekend in February.

Baptist World Alliance®
©January 22, 2018

BWA protests new Bolivian law

The Baptist World Alliance joins other Christian groups and organizations in protesting a new and ambiguous law in Bolivia that could make proselytizing illegal and put those who do so at risk of prosecution and imprisonment.

In a letter to legislators in Bolivia, BWA General Secretary Elijah Brown expressed concerns “that the ambiguity of these laws could lead to unintended restrictions on religious freedom and to the direct persecution of churches and individuals of faith.”

Brown said his concerns were not only for Baptists, “but for all who might find themselves unable to live according to the dictates of their conscience.”

In a translation by Evangelical Focus, a news and opinion website out of Europe, the offending law declares that “Whoever recruits, transports, deprives of freedom or hosts people with the aim of recruiting them to take part in armed conflicts or religious or worship organizations will be penalized 7 to 12 years of imprisonment.”

The fear is that the law could ban public preaching and punish the mere act of inviting someone to a Christian or other religious event.

According to Evangelical Focus, the new law collides with the country’s constitution. Article 4 of the Bolivian constitution reads, “The State respects and guarantees the freedom of religion and spiritual beliefs, according to their worldviews. The State is independent of religion.”

In his letter, Brown expressed hope “that freedom of religion and expression will be strengthened” and said Baptists are praying “for the ongoing wellbeing of the country.”

He also made the BWA available to Bolivian government and other authorities for further dialogue on the issue.

Global Baptists are encouraged to join Bolivian Christians who have declared Sunday, January 21, a day of prayer and fasting. They are also urged to make representations to Bolivian diplomatic missions in their respective countries on BWA concerns on the new law.

The BWA has two member organizations in Bolivia, the Baptist Convention of Bolivia and the Bolivian Baptist Union, comprising more than 50,000 members in more than 300 churches.

Both an English and Spanish version of the BWA letter may be downloaded on the BWA website.

Baptist World Alliance®
©January 19, 2018