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26 June 2015

Future of the World Evangelical Alliance - survival in the face of persecution

Future of the World Evangelical Alliance - survival in the face of persecution

Earlier this year, the World Evangelical Alliance met for the International Leadership Forum, which saw leaders of national evangelical associations come together in Honduras to unite in vision and mission, talking about strategic planning, nurturing relationships and how to be most effective as a WEA. For Bishop Efraim Tendero, known to many as Bishop Ef, the Forum marked the start of his tenure.

The general director of the UK Alliance, Steve Clifford, attended the conference and met Bishop Ef for the first time. He said: "It was great to meet up with Bishop Efraim. He comes to the role with a long track record of leadership of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC). He struck me as a man of faith with a passion to serve the Church in fulfilling the purposes of God in our generation."

While speaking to Amaris Cole, Bishop Ef spoke more about this passion, the future for the WEA and the challenges of leading this international organisation. 

Tell us about your background. Have you always been a Christian?
I am a second generation Christian from my father's side and third generation Christian from my mother's side. But personally, I came to faith in Jesus when I was 12 years old when my mother brought me to an evangelistic event where I was counseled to receive the Lord into my life.

What were you doing before you were appointed secretary general of the WEA?
After my graduation from Bible School, I served as pastor of a local church for 18 years and saw the church grow. For the following 22 years I served as the national director of the Philippine Council of Evangelical Churches (PCEC), which is the Evangelical Alliance in the Philippines. Over those years, I have seen the growth and impact of this ministry.

How does it feel to be given this role?
It is a humbling experience to be given the trust to provide leadership to the worldwide body of evangelicals. I take this with much trust and faith in the Lord, that He will grant me the wisdom and the favor in providing this leadership.

What will be the biggest challenge as secretary general?
The biggest challenge is how to keep the vision before a worldwide body of believers. Keeping close, up-to-date and effective communication is another challenge. And third, raising the financial resources that are needed to sustain the programmes and ministries of the WEA.

What do you think the future holds for the WEA? 

Can a unified group remain when each Alliance is facing such unique challenges and conflicts?
The purpose of the WEA is to advance the good news of the Lord Jesus. To do this we need to be a biblically-based and Spirit-led movement across the globe. Then God can use the WEA to play a significant role in advancing the good news of Jesus Christ throughout the whole world. 

"Pray that God will use the WEA in glorifying Gof by initiating holiness, justice and renewal at every level of society."

Keeping the unity of the movement is a challenge, however, as we focus on the vision of advancing the good news and strengthening evangelical churches worldwide, we can overcome conflicts and the diversities of the different Alliances.

With so many attacks on Christians that we hear of in the news (Africa, India, Middle East, etc.), what should the Church around the world do in response?
We have to deepen the faith and the commitment of the believers around the world. We need to go back to the New Testament principles of disciple-making, so that as the churches are rooted in faith and empowered to witness, they can face even the most vicious attacks on Christians.

The early Church underwent the most severe persecution, but the more they were persecuted, the more the Church grew. As one historian said: "The blood of the martyrs is the seed of the Church." As we strengthen the faith of every believer and their commitment to the Lord Jesus Christ, the Church will be a strong movement that God can use in facing these attacks on Christianity.

What do you enjoy most about being an evangelical leader?
Sharing the vision with dedicated and committed leaders who think not of themselves, but focus on how to obey the commission of the Lord Jesus is one of the things that gives me great joy. The partnership and support of many leaders across the globe gives great fulfilment. The World Evangelical Alliance is a great army of volunteers around the globe, whose desire is to lift up the name of Jesus and spread his message of love, justice, forgiveness and compassion.

What would you like idea readers to pray for when remembering the WEA?
Pray that we will be obedient to the great commission of Jesus, which is to make disciples of all the nations of the world, and keep the great commandment of Jesus to love others as he has loved us. And pray that God will use the WEA in glorifying God by initiating holiness, justice and renewal at every level of society.


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