Last week I spoke of concerns in the community that I have often left unaddressed and feel that my neglect has been a lack of attentiveness to God’s Spirit prompting me to respond to very clear need. We talked about the Teacher’s strike in BC and in response to that piece, Callum Jones wrote me this:
Thanks for your thoughtful reflections on the teachers’ dispute. For what it’s worth, the local Penticton ministerial association, which includes Baptist, Pentecostal, Vineyard, Alliance, Mennonite, and independent churches, to name a few, agreed to make $1000 available to Penticton City Hall to support local families who could not afford to put their children in the City’s emergency childcare program.
As an association we decided that a number of factors prevented local churches from organizing a day-care program by ourselves. These factors included finding staff, balancing necessary volunteer-to-child ratios, ensuring background checks had been completed on any volunteers, and arranging adequate liability insurance. As a result, we felt it best to make some funding available to the City, which had taken all these factors into consideration.
As it happens, our offer of funding will most likely be trumped by the likely resolution to the dispute (we’ll see how teachers vote today). Nevertheless, City officials were very grateful for the thoughtful and practical way local churches sought to provide assistance.
Thanks you so much Callum for your vision and the vision of the churches of Penticton in responding to the strike/lockout, the government, the teachers, the students and their families
No sooner had I “discharged my responsibility” (in my own mind at least) by drawing our collective attention to being aware to the needs around us than Bruce Milne approached me at church last Sunday. He encouraged me to look at the Baptist World Alliance piece on the persecution of Christians in the Middle East. They have been going through a devastating time for several decades and the recent ISIS attacks have made it only worse.
Washington, DC (BWA)–Baptist World Alliance (BWA) General Secretary Neville Callam endorsed the urgent appeal from the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon to evangelical and Protestant churches and organizations around the world.
The appeal, which was signed by church leaders and pastors, including Baptists, asserted that minority groups such as Christians and moderate Muslims in the Middle East face an existential threat.
“This is a moment filled with awe and fear,” the leaders stated. A “state of emergency” is needed “in order to preserve what remains of the Christian and moderate non-Christian presence in the East, and to circumvent its complete demise.”
In issuing a “cry of warning,” the leaders fear that events will “cause the annihilation of Christian presence in the Middle East.” They ask Christians, churches and social and humanitarian organizations around the world to “act swiftly before it is too late.”
The organizations are being asked to help raise awareness among their constituencies on the situation in the Middle East; to take actions that may end the depletion and “forced and ordered displacement of individuals and communities from their homelands”; to assist in working on a long term strategy to put an end to “cruel violence and indiscriminate murder”; and to “exercise the maximum pressure, moral and otherwise, and to tap all the resources at their disposal,” to bring resolution to the problems faced by Christian minorities and moderate Muslims in the region.
In a 2013 resolution on the crisis in the Middle East and North Africa, the BWA “lamented that Christians have been targeted and persecuted.” Callam, referencing that resolution, is encouraging Baptists to pray for the safety and well being of all who suffer regardless of their faith.
Callam said the 2013 resolution urges “governments of the Middle East to engage religious minority groups located within their borders in the process of pursuing measures to protect them against actions that target Christians and other minorities.” The BWA “commends and supports the efforts of moderate religious people everywhere who advocate for the just treatment of all citizens throughout the Middle East and North Africa.”
The appeal from the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community also included a plea for humanitarian aid. “We urge our partners to offer food and water supplies, as well as medical and other forms of assistance, to the war victims, and to support those who have been forcefully displaced in their own homeland, or become refugees in neighboring countries, so they may safely return to their towns, villages and churches.”
The BWA has had a long history of supporting minority and vulnerable groups in the Middle East. Over the past few weeks, the international umbrella organization for Baptists assisted 500 displaced Christian families inside Iraq, sent assistance to both Christian and Muslim families in Gaza that were affected by the recent war between Israel and Hamas, and supported Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon.
Donations 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
The Baptist World Alliance is a fellowship of 231 conventions and unions in 121 countries and territories comprising 42 million members in 177,000 churches. Its priorities are nurturing the passion for mission and evangelism, promoting worship, fellowship and unity, responding to people in need, defending human rights and justice and advancing relevant theological reflection.
May we keep this article in mind, hearts, conversations and prayers in the weeks ahead. I thank Bruce for drawing it to our attention. We will speak of it again.