At a conference held from March 6-8 in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, fifteen organizations including the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) met and formed 'The Religious Liberty Partnership (RLP)' to find new ways of working together for the persecuted church around the world.
Chaired by Mervyn Thomas from Christian Solidarity Worldwide (CSW), based in the U.K., the network consists of charter organizations including the Religious Liberty Commission of World Evangelical Alliance, Christian Solidarity International, Open Doors International, Christian Solidarity Worldwide, and Voice of the Martyrs (Canada). The new partnership will meet annually while a leadership team of five will oversee the work during the year. In addition, two ongoing working groups were established for 2007 to address advocacy issues and to identify common “Best Practices.”
According to Johan Candelin, the Executive Director of the World Evangelical Alliance Religious Liberty Commission, who joined the meeting, the creation of this network is a "major victory not only for the organizations, but for the persecuted churches and the free churches that want to work together."
"This is a historical day,” said Candelin. “Never ever before has there been this kind of partnership between the main organizations in the world working for the persecuted church. This will make everyone work more effectively, hinder overlapping of work, and strengthen research and information. It also sends a very strong signal of unity to the Christian church. The real winners are of course, our suffering brothers and sisters."
Meanwhile, Glenn Penner, CEO of Voice of the Martys in Canada and coordinator of the Best Practices working group, stated, "This is a critical time in the history of religious liberty. Religious freedom, especially for Christians, is threatened across the planet. Like never before, it is vitally important that organisations that work with persecuted Christians not only talk about working together, but that they be seen to be united and actually take steps to act in a unified manner.”
Mervyn Thomas, Chairman of The Religious Liberty Partnership, emphasized the Holy Spirit's guiding presence at the network’s first meeting.
“It was so good to see a genuine unity amongst the agencies represented at this inaugural meeting, said Thomas. “I believe it was more than just rhetoric and was a Holy Spirit inspired desire to work together for the good of our worldwide persecuted family. Working together rather than competing with one another is God’s heart and will produce a real synergy in all we do.”
The partnership is open to hear from other organizations working for the persecuted church that may be interested in joining the network, with the hope to provide the suffering church with a greater level of relevant help than ever before. Any organization that may be interested may contact Brian O'Connell of REACT Services in the USA, who was appointed facilitator of the network for 2007 (see contact info below).
The next annual meeting is slated for March 2008 in
Brian O'Connell, Phone: +1-425-218-471, E-mail: [email protected]
Marion Uzac, Press Secretary, E-mail: [email protected]
Sylvia Soon, Chief of Staff, E-mail: [email protected]
Alliance (WEA): World Evangelical Alliance is made up of 128 national evangelical alliances located in 7 regions and 104 associate member organizations. The vision of WEA is to extend the Kingdom of God by making disciples of all nations and by Christ-centered transformation within society. WEA exists to foster Christian unity, to provide an identity, voice and platform for the 420 million evangelical Christians worldwide. Web site: www.worldevangelicalalliance.com