This page contains a Flash digital edition of a book.

Italy A Commitment to Peace

Baptist World Alliance (BWA) President John Upton and General Secretary Neville Callam were among approximately 300 religious leaders who gathered in Assisi in Italy to participate in the Day of Reflection, Dialogue and Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World. The event was held on October 27 and was hosted by Pope Benedict XVI. It marked the 25th anniversary of a similar

event called by Pope John Paul II in 1986 in the birth and burial place of St. Francis of Assisi, whose life was marked by a commitment to peace and reconciliation. “We had an invitation to be part of the world gathering and felt that Baptists should be in the midst of the celebration,” said Upton. “It was good for Baptists to be there. They needed us there and we needed to be there. We’re going to be good neighbors without compromising our core

Left: BWA General Secretary Neville Callam with two other participants at the Day of

Reflection, Dialogue and Prayer for Peace and Justice in the World in Assisi, Italy, on Oct. 27

Below left: BWA President John Upton being greeted by Pope Benedict XVI, in Assisi, Italy

convictions. We can do this while holding to our evangelical convictions.” Callam said the event was significant because a commitment to peace can only lead to improved relations. “The attitude that people of the various religions adopt toward one another has vast potential for ameliorating conflict between peoples,” he said. “The meeting convened by the pope in Assisi reflected the concern for peace shared by all religions. As Baptist Christians, we continue to commit ourselves to honoring our Lord’s command to love our neighbors.” Activities of the day included speeches by some of the religious leaders, a time of silence dedicated to personal prayer and/ or reflection, the sharing of a “frugal” or

Tajikistan The Baptists of Tajikistan By Daniel Trusiewicz

The European Baptist Federation has been supporting several church planting projects in Tajikistan in Central Asia. It was only toward the end of the 20th

century that this nation received the Bible in its own language for the first time. The Word of God was distributed and read by the people, which eventually resulted in the planting of new churches. Tajikistan declared political indepen- dence after the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991. The nation fell into civil war which was tribally based and lasted seven years (1991-97). The dreadful fruit of this war has been death and destruction – in total about 60,000 victims. In addition, the majority of the non-Muslim popula- tion, particularly Russians, Germans and

Jews, fled the country during that time, mainly because of persecution and increas- ing poverty. Baptist work started Tajikistan’s capital, the government in Dushanbe, in 1929. The new converts formed a congregation but the authorities closed the church. After many appeals registered the church in 1944. In 1989 the Dushanbe Baptist Church had more than 800 members with almost half being German. The congregation included as many as 16 national groups. In addition to the Dushanbe church, Baptists formed several other congregations in the country.

The Baptist Brotherhood of Tajikistan comprises seven congregations and several affiliate groups that are scattered all over the country. This Baptist community counts an increasing number of ethnic Tajiks. The ministry concentrates on evangelism, mission and church planting. During the past 10 years the number of churches and groups has doubled, and thousands of Bibles in the Tajik language have been distributed.

The majority of new converts do not have a Christian background. They learn about the Baptist faith in discipleship courses through extension training. Baptists organize summer camps and Vacation Bible Schools. There is also work with children in boarding schools. The Extension Bible School serves as an effective tool in preparing for ministry and it is organized in cooperation with Romanian and Moldovan Baptists.

(Continued on next page) JANUARY/MARCH 2012 9

“poor” meal intended to be a symbolic participation in the sufferings of persons and populations deprived of peace, and a solemn renewal of the pledge of peace. In the pledge of peace, participants promised to reject violence and terrorism; to foster a culture of dialogue that is frank and patient; to defend the right of everyone to live a decent life; to take the side of the poor and the helpless, speaking out for those who have no voice; to encourage all efforts to promote friendship between peoples; and to forgive each other for past and present errors and prejudices. It was worthwhile that religious leaders could come together and “instead of being symbols of destruction, be symbols of peace and unity,” Upton said.

Page 1  |  Page 2  |  Page 3  |  Page 4  |  Page 5  |  Page 6  |  Page 7  |  Page 8  |  Page 9  |  Page 10  |  Page 11  |  Page 12  |  Page 13  |  Page 14  |  Page 15  |  Page 16  |  Page 17  |  Page 18  |  Page 19  |  Page 20  |  Page 21  |  Page 22  |  Page 23  |  Page 24  |  Page 25  |  Page 26  |  Page 27  |  Page 28  |  Page 29  |  Page 30  |  Page 31  |  Page 32