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Baptists endorse Middle East crisis appeal

The Baptist World Alliance has endorsed an urgent appeal from the Supreme Council of the Evangelical Community in Syria and Lebanon, which fears for the very existence of minority groups such as Christians and moderate Muslims in the Middle East.

Darwesh Yazidi300The appeal called for a 'state of emergency...  in order to preserve what remains of the Christian and moderate non-Christian presence in the East, and to circumvent its complete demise.'

The Council asked Christians, churches and social and humanitarian organisations around the world to 'act swiftly before it is too late'. The statement describes the actions of ISIS as verging on being 'a bona-fide genocide'.

Specifically the organisations are being asked to help raise awareness among their constituencies on the situation in the Middle East; to take actions that may end the depletion and 'forced and ordered displacement of individuals and communities from their homelands'; to assist in working on a long term strategy to put an end to 'cruel violence and indiscriminate murder'; and to 'exercise the maximum pressure, moral and otherwise, and to tap all the resources at their disposal,' to bring resolution to the problems faced by Christian minorities and moderate Muslims in the region.

The appeal was issued to evangelical and Protestant churches and organisations around the world, and signed by church leaders and pastors, including Baptists Elie Haddad, president of Beirut's Arab Baptist Theological Seminary; and Nabil Costa, executive director of the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development.

In a statement endorsing the appeal, the BWA said General Secretary Dr Neville Callam is encouraging Baptists to pray for the safety and well being of all who suffer regardless of their faith.

In a 2013 resolution on the crisis in the Middle East and North Africa, the BWA 'lamented that Christians have been targeted and persecuted.'

Dr Callam said the 2013 resolution urges "governments of the Middle East to engage religious minority groups located within their borders in the process of pursuing measures to protect them against actions that target Christians and other minorities."

The BWA, 'commends and supports the efforts of moderate religious people everywhere who advocate for the just treatment of all citizens throughout the Middle East and North Africa.'

Elsewhere Robert Parham, executive editor of EthicsDaily.com, issued a five point plan for Baptists in the wake of the appeal:

First, speak up. Make sure every conversation you have—in church and the public square—about President Obama's war plan against ISIS includes a word about how Middle East Christian leaders are warning that their communities are at risk of annihilation.

Second, follow Nabil Costa (@nabilcosta) and Elie Haddad (@ElieHaddad_ABTS) on Twitter. Friend Haddad on Facebook. Their posts will provide frequent updates, an "on the ground" perspective.

Third, pray each Sunday in church for Christians in the Middle East. It is simply amazing how many Western Christians are unaware of a Christian community in that part of the world. Prayer raises awareness and creates solidarity.

Fourth, educate church members about the existence of the evangelical and Protestant communities in the Middle East. Share this link to a Skype interview with Alia Abboud, director of development and partner relations for the Lebanese Society for Educational and Social Development, about efforts to aid Syrian refugees.

Fifth, prioritise support for humanitarian efforts with gifts through Baptist World Aid.

Picture: Mackenzie Knowles-Coursin/IRIN
Darwesh, a Yazidi, he fled the violence in Iraq for the relative safety of Syria

Related: Nabil Costa relates how Baptists in the Middle East are reaching out to their Syrian neigbours

Baptist Times, 19/09/2014
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