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'Welcome the strangers in their midst'

Migration, corruption and relations between Christians and Muslims were top of the agenda in the closing ceremony of the fifth African Biblical Leadership Initiative (ABLI) conference in Malawi today (17 September).

ABLI500The event’s moderator, Lord Paul Boateng, a member of the House of Lords, read from the declaration that the 150-strong gathering had backed.

‘We appeal to all African societies to welcome the strangers in their midst,’ he said, ‘particularly migrants and refugees fleeing persecution.

'Equally, we challenge the oppressive regimes of this continent to respect the right to life, the rule of law, freedom of belief and freedom of speech.’

Currently, there are some 3 million people displaced within Africa, because of war, insurgencies and poverty.

Christians ‘offered their hands’ to Muslim communities, he said, but called on Islamic groups and governments to allow freedom of religion.

‘Let there be no compulsion in religion, let each person follow their conviction and let us live in peace,’ he said.

His words came against the backdrop of continued violence in Nigeria, where Boko Haram abducted 209 girls from their school in 2014.

Following the scathing attack on ‘corruption as a way of life’ in African society earlier in the week by anti-corruption campaigner, Patrick Lumumba, the forum declared that members would ‘commit ourselves to the highest standards of biblical integrity.

‘We refuse to be complicit in corruption in either personal or professional lives,’ it said.

Some 150 people from 20 African nations attended the event in Lilongwe this week. The sixth ABLI conference will be held next year. Plans are underway to choose the host country.

ABLI was established in early 2009 as a partnership between a coalition of Bible Societies and Christian ministries, working together with the Africa Area Office of United Bible Societies (UBS).

Picture: Event moderator Paul Boateng addresses the fifth ABLI conference (Bible Society/Clare Kendall). For more photos visit the ABLI Flickr album


Baptist Times, 17/09/2015
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