The life of evangelical churches and their spiritual leaders has been portrayed in some recent films and series. Can they help us start conversations?
Efraim Tendero represented evangelical Christians at the Global Conference on Human Fraternity in Abu Dhabi.
The Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), Bishop Efraim Tendero, attended the Global Conference on Human Fraternity in Abu Dhabi (United Arab Emirates) on February 3-4.
The gathering was organized by the Emirates-based Muslim Council of Elders. Hundreds of faith leaders of a number of religions were invited, including the head of the Roman Catholic Church, Pope Francis.
According to Gulf News, during the inaugural address, United Arab Emirates Minister of Tolerance, Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan said: “It will be tolerance and human fraternity that will make us champions for human rights and human obligations”.
The state-owned Emirates News Agency said the aim of the conference was to promote dialogue, tolerance, education, and to “counter violence and hatred in all its forms, especially when related to ethnic or ideological differences”.
THE NEED FOR PEACEMAKERS
In his speech, Efraim Tendero spoke of the “powerful contribution to global peace” that Christians could make as those who are called by Jesus Christ to be peace builders.
“Before becoming Secretary General of the WEA, I led the evangelical alliance in the Philippines for 22 years. In that role, I was deeply involved in building peace between Christians and Muslims”, Tendero shared, after greeting the conference on behalf of the world’s 600 million evangelicals. “What we did in the Philippines can happen elsewhere”.
BIBLE AND THE VALUE OF HUMAN BEINGS
According to a press release, the WEA leader illustrated three reasons why Christians are to seek peace by conviction. “Being followers of Jesus, we are called to obey his teachings about loving God and loving our neighbors as ourselves. This love is unselfish and sacrificial; it compels us to serve others above ourselves”.
“Secondly, followers of Jesus subscribe to the teaching of the Bible, which says that God created humankind in his own image. Although that image of God has been marred by sin, it has not been eradicated. We still bear the image of God. Therefore, the Bible places a very high premium on the value of every human being”.
Thirdly, he added that “the Christian Scriptures command us to be peace builders. As Romans 14:19 says, ‘Let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding’”.
Bishop Tendero also offered three practices that – when implemented – would lead to more respect towards and acceptance of people who hold different faith to one’s own: “Active listening”, “empathic understanding” and “intentional collaboration”.
RIGHT TO CONVERT
In relation to religious conversion, a particularly critical and sensitive issue when it comes to believers of different faiths living together, Tendero weighed in: “At earlier points in history, Christians have sometimes taken harder stances toward people who abandoned the Christian faith, but we have come to realize that forced religious belief is no belief at all”.
Read the full speech of WEA Secretary General Efraim Tendero at the Global Conference on Human Fraternity, in Abu Dhabi, 3-4 February.