Partners with the Persecuted Church

On January 11, 2013, I said a reluctant “yes” to God’s call to transition from a solid career in the secular world to a ministry position with the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in my home country, Lebanon. Little did I know that serving churches would take me on a wonderful journey from Lebanon to Geneva, Switzerland, and now, to the United States of America.

Thank you for your prayers and notes of encouragement for me as the incoming President of 21Wilberforce. (Read more here.) The relocation of my family from Geneva to Houston took place in April, and we are in the process of settling in.

May was busy as I met with 21Wilberforce staff and held our first planning retreat. I was encouraged by the depth of their experience, their heart for the mission of 21Wilberforce, and their encouragement and support during the leadership transition.

The end of the month was our biannual 21Wilberforce Board of Directors meeting. Board member and pastor Dr. Ross Chandler shared a devotion from Philippians (chapter 2) on Epaphroditus who visited Paul in his prison. The church in Philippi sent Paul a “care package” by the hand of Epaphroditus. Dr. Chandler challenged us to become the church of Philippi and a 21st Century Epaphroditus today, for those suffering persecution, imprisoned, and threatened by violence.

Last week I was grateful to participate in a video call with the Rev. Elias Apetogbo, General Secretary of the All-Africa Baptist Fellowship to learn of challenges Christians are facing in several African nations and how we can serve them, and with Dr. Dawari George, Baptist World Alliance Men’s President and 21Wilberforce Ambassador for Africa to discuss prior and future work in Nigeria.

Later this month I look forward to visiting churches in Dallas, Houston, Midland, and Austin, Texas, to share how we can partner with Christian leaders resisting persecution and violence. I will also have a conversation with church leaders in South Asia where 25% of the world’s population — two billion people — live. 21Wilberforce has walked alongside them and I will explore how we can further support their efforts to advance religious freedom.

In July, I travel to Nigeria to meet with church leaders from all over the world at the annual gathering of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) and I look forward to participating in a panel on the church’s role in times of protracted crises, and a panel of the Religious Freedom Commission of the BWA. You can read more about the annual gathering and register to attend virtually here.

21Wilberforce is coming alongside churches and Christians in South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East. We are investing in Christian leaders and churches, the frontline workers with a vision of building up indigenous sustainable religious freedom advocacy.

And we invite you to be part of this exciting journey of fellowship and unity with the persecuted and suffering. Together, we can become the church in Philippi.