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World Evangelical Alliance to focus on Bible, poverty


Evangelicals from more than 100 nations have met in Pattaya, Thailand, for the opening of the main governing body of the World Evangelical Alliance with a call to seek a fresh vision of Christianity based on the Scriptures and with the issue of poverty on its agenda.

"We need a fresh vision for and commitment to the work of the body of Christ around the world that reflects our focus on integral mission, on holistic mission, on the transformation of the Gospel," said WEA international director Geoff Tunnicliffe.

The WEA general assembly, which takes place once every six years, began with traditional Thai dance and music at its opening ceremony, as well as a parade of national flags representing the home nations of some 500 delegates.

"We need a renewal of our historic commitment to the character of the Gospel and our biblical distinctive as evangelical Christians who are committed to the authority of Scripture, said Tunnicliffe. "What drives us and undergirds us is our commitment to the Scriptures."

Present at the opening ceremony was Kanda Vajrabhaya , the deputy permanent secretary in Thailand’s Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, who in a speech pointed to areas of common interest between Evangelicals and her government, including poverty reduction, HIV and AIDS, human rights and child protection.

"The WEA is a meaningful network to us in implementing programmes to assist, protect and empower those vulnerable groups and improve the life conditions of those considered as disadvantaged people in this country," she stated. "It is also consistent with Christianity’s principles of right living for the benefit and interests of other people."

Vajrabhaya noted, "This year marks 180 years since Christian missionaries came to Thailand. Thus far Christians have not only brought knowledge such as education, technology and medicine, but also established infrastructure like schools, universities and hospitals to help Thai people."

Delegates and experts from around the world will discuss poverty, transforming churches, HIV and AIDS, religious liberty and evangelical engagement in public life.

Also present at the assembly are representatives of other denominations and Christian bodies, including The Salvation Army, the Pentecostal World Fellowship, the Mennonite community, the World Alliance of Reformed Churches, the Charismatic stream, the China Christian Council, and historic major churches.

"We want a greater appreciation, affirmation and assimilation of the various global evangelical movements," said Tunnicliffe. "The work of encouraging Christian unity is not easy."

The World Evangelical Alliance is made up of 128 national evangelical alliances and 104 associate member organizations. "The vision of WEA is to extend the Kingdom of God by making disciples of all nations and by Christ-centred transformation within society," it says. 

(c) Ecumenical News International