The World Evangelical Alliance has commissioned two new leaders to take forward its work in the areas of poverty and religious liberty.
The Rev Dr Joel Edwards, former head of the Evangelical Alliance in the UK, was the first to be commissioned at the WEA’s General Assembly on Sunday as the new international director of Micah Challenge, a worldwide movement of Christians lobbying their government to do more to meet the Millennium Development Goals of halving extreme global poverty by 2015. Micah Challenge is a WEA collaboration with the Micah Network of Christians advocating on behalf of the poor within NGOs and government bodies.
Commenting on his appointment, Edwards said, “The MDGS are a prophetic thing for governments to have agreed to. As Christians, we have a responsibility to deepen our commitment to the poor, to walk with the poor, to serve the poor. But we also have a responsibility to hold governments to account to the promises they have made.”
Edwards said that the scale of the challenge to rid the world of poverty was no reason for people to give in to cynicism.
“Jesus said the poor you will always have with you. The longevity of poverty is always going to confront us. But as Christians we have an amazing responsibility to bring not only optimism but hope into fairly difficult situations.
“There is no doubt about it. There is the capacity and ability to do something positive and definitive about the issue of human poverty.
“If the Christian community globally could begin to reach into its soul and respond to the challenge of the poor then we can actually do something which makes a difference.”
On Monday, church leaders laid hands on Sri Lankan national the Rev Godfrey Yogarajah, newly commissioned leader of the WEA’s Religious Liberty Commission who takes over from Johan Candelin.
Yogarajah said the Commission would focus on the ‘three Es’ of Educating and training churches to withstand persecution and suffering; Exposing the persecution happening in certain countries through monitoring, documenting, lobbying and advocacy work; and Encouraging Christians and churches in persecuted countries to stand firm for Christ by offering practical assistance.
“These things will be a priority as we go forward,” he said.
He continued: “I come from a country where there is so much persecution so my heart goes out to many in other countries where there is persecution. It is a big challenge but it is also a calling on the WEA Religious Liberty Commission to respond to these matters.
“It is also a time to prepare the church for suffering and persecution. If the church is prepared it can usually withstand persecution and experience tremendous growth. It can be a great opportunity.”