*****Here’s our February/March newsletter. By the time this went out today, we learned the week ahead will be a bit more chaotic for Leslie than planned. She is flying to Amsterdam tonight and the conference she was to attend has been cancelled due to Covid-19 concerns. Pray for wisdom for her and her colleagues on how to use that time well.*****
First of all, THANK YOU!! Because of your generous donations in December, we ended the calendar year in the black. We are humbled by and grateful for your kindness, love, and support. We are facing some costs for our March and April travel.
After having the family come for Christmas, we have had a quiet schedule, giving us time to write and prepare for our upcoming trip.
We head to Europe next week. Leslie will go first, landing in the Netherlands to speak to some 12-14 year-olds at a Christian school. After an educational conference, she will head to Prague and meet Tom there. We both have plenty of ministry and work ahead.
Leslie will visit several Czech national Christian schools and speak later in the month at a Christian teachers conference about school improvement. Then she will fly to Rwanda to lead a pre-conference workshop on teaching with cultural intelligence.
Tom will have meetings in Prague with people connected to the Comenius Institute and in Bonn with the board and faculty of Martin Bucer Seminary. Right now, it is on his agenda to go to Ukraine. However, something came up just at this writing which might send him a different direction.
It feels a bit precarious to travel to Europe and Africa during this time of fear about COVID-19. Leslie is a little worried that we would get stuck in Europe. That wouldn’t be so bad except that Aimee is expecting in early May. We would hate not to be in North Carolina to be helpful. So we would like your prayers. Through out all of our travels, we’d appreciate prayers for:
- Safety and health (especially with the COVID-19 stuff going on);
- Encouragement to those we are working with;
- And wisdom in our speaking engagements, that we speak the Lord’s words, not ours.
Thank you for the prayer and financial support that make our work possible.
My Unexpected Trip in January – Tom
I represented the World Evangelical Alliance at meetings of 25 Jewish, Muslim, and Christian leaders January 14 to 16, 2020, addressing the issues of religiously motivated conflict and persecution. The meetings were called by the U. S. State Department and the Vatican.
Sam Brownback, U. S. Ambassador for International Religious Freedom (in an interview with Religious News Service, Jan. 16) said, “I think the world is crying for this movement,” adding that even though the world might not want to talk about religion, the matter cannot be ignored. “If we’d involved the religious actors 30 years ago in the Middle East peace negotiations and discussions, saying ‘OK, this is what we are thinking about, what do you think? Help us build the peace,’ we might be somewhere today,” he said. “We still don’t have peace in the Middle East and the prospects don’t look particularly good.”
The meeting and following efforts envision multi-faith interventions wherever religions are contributing to hostility and violence, rather than contributing to the well-being of peoples and communities. In particular, the religions represented committed themselves in a brief statement:
- “To focus such efforts towards those wracked by conflicts and carnage, where possible, by sending teams to one or two areas not yet served by multi-faith efforts to help spur and guide towards peace.
- “To advocate before our political and civic leaders to use these values of religious freedom, civic equality, and societal change of differences as a foundation of laws, policies, and civic norms.”
I participated in two roles. As the WEA Envoy to the Vatican I attend some meetings in Rome; as WEA representative to engage Humanitarian Islam I am to see if there are ways that Christians and this large group of Muslims can cooperate on religious freedom. While talking on the phone with a senior figure from these Muslims a few days before going to Rome, we discovered that we agreed that “religious freedom” is often undefined. We worked together to use the excellent United Nations definition of religious freedom in these meetings.
There are not many Protestants who attend meetings such as this. I was very happy I could tell senior Muslim leaders, some from countries where Christians are persecuted, that our hundreds of millions of Evangelicals are in communication and have international representatives. This may lead to more respect for some less-visible churches.
While in Rome I also met with the Vatican bureau chief for Evangelical relations. Once again, we discussed, given our limited manpower, what we can do together that will truly be beneficial for Christians on both sides. We raised some options that are now being discussed.
Click HERE for the link to get to Tom’s academic website.
Thank you so much!
We appreciate you all and are thankful for the Lord’s work through you!
Join us in thanking the Lord for:
- Tom’s health continuing to improve. All his blood work recently shows good progress. And his hip is not in such pain.
- A good trip for meetings in Rome in January.
- A good time with our children and grandchildren over Christmas.
- Tom’s opportunity to write a report on Jakarta.
Please join us in praying for:
- Our upcoming travels:
- Tom – to Europe, including Czechia, Germany, and Ukraine.
- Leslie – to Europe and Africa, including Netherlands, Czechia, and Rwanda.
- Good health while traveling, including no exposure to COVID-19.
- No cancelled flights due to COVID-19.
- Our different meetings and talks to be an encouragement to those we are working with.
- Continued wisdom for Tom as he (on behalf of the WEA) engages the world’s largest Muslim group about religious freedom. What are the next steps?
- Wise next steps for WEA=Vatican relations.
- The project Komensky 2020, celebrating the Christian life and teaching of Jan Amos Komensky (Comenius), has launched in public schools, libraries, and churches across the Czech Republic. Our project leader, Doc Dr. Jan Habl, received a presidential medal from his university for this effort. Here is a Czech website with pictures of teachers participating: http://www.najdilektora.cz/vyhledavani/#/search
- Creative ideas to help persecuted Christians around the world.
Thank you for your faithful prayer for us as well as your financial gifts that allow us to do the work He has called us to.
PO Box 12147
Overland Park KS 66282-2147