|From the General Secretary |
By Neville Callam
In the last few months, the passage from this world of several persons, whose life story could helpfully be told again and again, has left me thinking again about death rather as summit than as robber, as coronation than as disaster.
Alicja Rogaczewski from Poland was a firm believer in Christ. A woman of great faith, she served for 53 years alongside her husband, Stefan, in pastorates in Kraków, Poznań and Katowice. Alicja and Stefan courageously faced the challenges and opportunities presented to those who serve under a communist government. It was while the communists were in power that Stefan secured permission to erect a place of worship for the First Baptist Church of Katowice.
Alicja and Stefan raised two children, Ania, a teacher of English, and Jerzy, who followed his father into the Baptist ministry. Alicja and her husband were zealous in guarding their faith and conscientious in their service to the Lord. In the end, having filled her family, church and world with life and hope and joy, Alicja left this world to be with her Lord. How many are the precious memories her husband and children have to celebrate and to share!
Gustavo Parajón was a pastor to the Nicaraguan community. A medical doctor, he served selflessly and, as a health care professional, his passion led to the formation of PROVADENIC with its emphasis on preventative health care. Parajón's commitment to relief and development produced CEPAD, which remains an admirable model of ecumenical cooperation. A human rights campaigner and peacemaker, Parajón's work was recognized nationally and internationally. He was the recipient of the first annual Baptist World Alliance Human Rights Award.
When the congregation at the First Baptist Church of Managua, Nicaragua, bade him farewell in a service to celebrate his life, his widow, Joan, daughters Marta and Rebecca, and son, David, were all able to rejoice in the manifestation of Christ's love in the life of their loved one.
John Otis Peterson, Sr., former BWA Vice President, was larger than life. His confidence in his convictions was astounding, his courage was amazing, and his capacity to recognize and sacrificially to support worthwhile causes exemplary. The breadth of Peterson's achievements is rare. This was a man who dared to take positions some deemed controversial and who risked and endured expulsion from a Christian organization that regarded him as holding erroneous views. Yet, his commitment to Christ was unquestioned and the glad investment of his life in young people on pilgrimage with Christ inspiring.
At his funeral, his wife of more than 40 years, his two biological children and the wider family listened to the accolades heaped upon a departed servant of God. However, the applause might not have been anticipated when, years ago, this pioneer was daring huge risks on the road on which the Lord was leading him.
When people like Alicja Rogaczewski, Gustavo Parajón and John Peterson die and we gather for their funeral, how should we remember them? How should we bid them farewell?
It is possible to develop a fixation with the past and to make inconsolable mourning the ritę de passage we enact. We offer an unforgettable display of our feelings of loss and we draw others into our sad world with all its emptiness and pain.
It is also possible for us to remember that, when we attend a funeral service of worship, we gather in the presence of Christ. In this context, we may still mourn, but not like those without hope. The reason for this is clear: we are able to remember in such situations that the ones for whose valediction we assemble have actually come to a time of coronation; they have arrived at the summit of their lives.
It is still true for the Christian that "to be away from the body is to be at home with the Lord" (2 Corinthians 5:8).
|What BWA Member Bodies are Doing|
Malaysia Baptist Convention
Baptist work began in Malaysia in 1938. The Malaysia Baptist Convention (MBC) was officially formed in 1953 with five churches and was accepted into the membership of the BWA in 1957. It now comprises more than 22,000 members in more than 160 congregations.
The MBC aims to unite and represent all Baptist churches in Malaysia; foster Christian fellowship among all Baptist churches in and beyond the country; spread the Christian gospel and to help develop the work of the church; conduct welfare and nonprofit making enterprises; and establish and operate a theological seminary for the training of pastors and church workers.
MBC is mission-focused. It established a mission board that, among other tasks, coordinates and facilitates church planting work. There is a Baptist New Work Fund that provides financing for church planting in the Southeast Asia country. MBC initiated a five-year project in Bangladesh to provide 5,000 Bibles and 500 sewing machines for income generation. Its Gift of Hope Project is aimed at providing assistance to women living in poverty in Central Asia.
The convention established the Myanmar Commission as part of a two-year program to assist refugees from Myanmar who live in Malaysia, offering basic assistance, training and the equipping of Christian leaders.
MBC has, over the years, made substantial donations to other countries that have experienced disasters.
A Baptist Pastors' Care Fund was established to provide financial support to pastors and their families who have urgent needs.
MBC has embraced a proverb as an indication of the strength that comes from unity and collaboration: "One single chopstick can easily be broken, but when many pairs of chopsticks are grouped together, the stack possesses great strength."
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First Baptist Church
Vienna, Virginia, USA
Recently, the beautiful setting of the First Baptist Church of Vienna, Virginia, USA, was a lovely setting for the celebration members had come to mark. Their pastor, Kenny Smith, and his wife, Mary Smith, had completed 24 years of service with the church.
Responding to the many accolades showered on him, Smith recounted the story of his call to the pastorate in Vienna and expressed his gratitude to God for the privilege to serve the church. He expressed deep appreciation for the loyalty and cooperation of the leaders and members of the church and made special mention of some of the church's recent interventions to help bring relief to people who are hurting.
A graduate of the University of Nebraska, the Virginia Union School of Theology, and Howard University, Smith is a recipient of numerous awards from civic, educational and religious organizations. He has served as president of the Baptist General Convention of Virginia and is a former president of the Fairfax branch of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP).
The First Baptist Church, Vienna, which was established in 1867, is a BWA Global Impact Church.
|In Memoriam: Gordon Johnson|
Gordon Johnson, a former vice president and dean of Bethel Seminary in the state of Minnesota in the United States, died on April 1. He was 91 years old.
Johnson was appointed director of field education and professor of preaching at Bethel Seminary in 1959 before being named vice president and dean in 1964, serving until his retirement in 1984. He played an important role in the building of a new seminary campus, which was completed in 1965, and helped the seminary to gain full accreditation with the Association of Theological Schools in 1966. He also was instrumental in establishing a second campus of the school in San Diego, California, in 1977.
At his retirement in 1984, Bethel Seminary had grown from an enrollment of just over 100 students in 1964 to nearly 600.
From 1965-1985, Johnson served as a Baptist General Conference (now Converge Worldwide) representative to the Baptist World Alliance, serving the BWA in a number of capacities, including as a member of the BWA General Council and Executive Committee. He also served on the BWA Commission on Christian Ethics, the Commission on Baptist Doctrine, and the Commission on Cooperative Christianity.
He was, for many years, a member of the Board of Publications, the Board of World Missions, and the Board of Trustees of the Baptist General Conference.
Prior to his appointment at Bethel, Johnson joined the Navy in the Chaplaincy program during World War Two, and pastored churches in Wisconsin, New Jersey, and Illinois from 1946 to 1959.
He studied at Harvard University and finished his undergraduate work at the University of Minnesota. He earned additional degrees from Bethel Seminary, Princeton Theological Seminary, and Northern Baptist Theological Seminary.
Johnson was preceded in death by his wife Alta; the couple was married 64 years. He is survived by son Gregg and daughter Gayle Ramer.
A memorial service was held at GracePoint Church in New Brighton, Minnesota, on April 8.
Baptist World Aid
|BWAid grants for the months of March and April 2011|
Grants recorded in United States dollars unless otherwise noted
Women's Agricultural Project - 4,487.00Democratic Republic of the Congo
Vegetable Farming - 5,000.00
Farming - IDP Resettlement - 5,000.00Zambia
Poultry & Vegetable Farming - 6,750.00AsiaIndia
Income Generating Project - 7,500.00Japan
Earthquake Relief -
Earthquake Relief - 10,000.00
Nehemiah Project - 3,360.00
Construction -- School for Orphanage - 19,125.00
Cholera Project - 40,000.00
House Construction - 6,000.00EuropeRussia
TB Sanatorium for Children - 2,388.89
Home for HIV+ Babies - 414.63
Church Repairs -
Micah Network - 1,000.00Back to top
Monthly Prayer Guide
Each week, the staff of the Baptist World Alliance prays for conventions and unions throughout the world.
We invite all other Baptist conventions and unions, and individual Baptists everywhere, to join us in these prayers.
For the month of May we will remember the following:
Sudan Interior Church
Baptist Union of Uganda
Uganda Baptist Convention
Baptist Convention of Tanzania
Baptist Convention of Kenya
African Baptist Assembly, Malawi, Inc.
Baptist Convention of Malawi
Evangelical Baptist Church of Malawi
Baptist Convention of Zambia
Baptist Union of Zambia
Baptist Fellowship of Zambia
Baptist Convention of Botswana
Baptist Convention of Zimbabwe
Baptist Union of Zimbabwe
National Baptist Convention of Zimbabwe
United Baptist Church of Zimbabwe
European Baptist Federation Mission Conference, Elstal, Germany, June 7-10
Baptist Youth World Day of Prayer, June 12
Caribbean Baptist Fellowship Sunday, June 19Back to top