Randel Everett prays with government officials and Christian leaders in Ethiopia during a religious freedom/leadership training conference co-hosted by Watch & Pray Ministries and 21Wilberforce.

Randel Everett Announces Retirement From 21Wilberforce

Randel Everett recently announced to the 21Wilberforce staff and Board that he will retire as President of 21Wilberforce at the end of this year. Here are his reflections on stepping away from the organization he and his wife, Sheila, founded nine years ago.

Working with 21 Wilberforce in defense of those experiencing religious persecution has been a great honor.  Religious freedom is a passion of mine beginning when I was introduced to this basic Baptist concept as a young boy in churches where my father was the pastor.  Dr. Bill Pinson taught us in his Christian ethics class at Southwestern Seminary that Baptists have been champions of religious freedom for people of all faiths for over 400 years, knowing that faith cannot be coerced but must be a decision of the will.

The dream to establish a Christian non-profit was sparked by a conversation with Congressman Frank Wolf who called me when I was pastor of First Baptist Church of Midland and asked, ‘What will it take to awaken the Church in America to this crisis?”  Additional conversations with attorney Michael Horowitz of D.C., Judge Ken Starr, Deborah Fikes and many others, led my wife Sheila and I to know this was a Kingdom assignment God put before us.

First Baptist Church of Midland rallied around us and were not only formative in our early days but have also been consistently our most faithful partner.  During these past nine years, God has brought together incredible staff, volunteers and encouragers and has allowed us to witness the suffering first-hand of Christians, Yazidis, Rohingya, Uyghurs and others who are tortured because of their faith.

Randel Everett listens to Sister Diana of the Iraqi Dominican Sisters of St. Catherine of Siena share about the work she, and her fellow nuns, were doing to support the vast number of internally displaced people in their homeland.

We have listened to mothers whose children have been kidnapped or executed, villagers who have escaped massacres, inmates unjustly sentenced to cruel punishments, and countless other unspeakable atrocities.  We have attempted to draw attention to unjust laws, ruthless leaders, and anarchic mobs who attack others because of their beliefs.

A few years ago, 21Wilberforce and the Baptist World Alliance entered into a legal partnership allowing Baptists in over 130 nations to provide firsthand witnesses to identify religious freedom violations and also open global networks for responding to these situations quickly and effectively.

We are commanded in Isaiah 1:17, ‘Learn to do good; seek justice, reprove the ruthless, defend the orphan, plead for the widow.’  Jesus began His ministry, saying, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.  He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives, and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free those who are oppressed, to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord (Luke 4:18-19).

Even though I will retire as President of 21Wilberforce, I will continue to be an advocate for global religious freedom and will encourage continued support for 21Wilberforce in this new exciting phase of its advocacy.  In a 1791 speech in the House of Commons, William Wilberforce said, “Having heard all of this you may choose to look the other way but you can never again say you did not know.’  By the grace of God, may the churches of the West continue to stand with those who are suffering for their faith.