NEW DELHI – The Evangelical Fellowship of Asia (EFA) officially changed its name to the Asian Evangelical Alliance this week and witnessed the installation of the Rev. Dr. Richard Howell as its new general secretary.
Top Evangelical leaders in attendance included Dr. Geoff Tunnicliffe, the international director of World Evangelical Alliance; the Rev. Sang-Bok David Kim, the chairman of EFA; and the Rev. Godfrey Yogarajah, the outgoing EFA general secretary who led the installation ceremony appointing Howell as its new head.
The developments were part of the EFA 2008 General Assembly gathering held August 4-6 at the Bible Bhawan (House of the Bible) in New Delhi.
Catholic Archbishop of Delhi Vincent Concessao, who also attended the ceremony, praised the new leadership under Howell, who he described as "a very spirited man."
"[A]nd as he takes over the task of evangelization of Asia, I hope we can fulfill the dream of the Lord and the Cross which stands for love. May evangelization, which is the urgent need of Asia, be fulfilled by the organization and its new leader."
Tunnicliffe, meanwhile, hailed the new EFA head as "a great man of vision and an able leader."
" I believe, in this century, Asian evangelism needs a strong leader like him," the WEA head commented.
"On behalf of WEA and the global Christian family, I congratulate him and hope for the best relationships," he added.
A former principal at the Alahabad Bible Seminary, Howell is the current general secretary of the Evangelical Fellowship of India (EFI), which has a membership of over 35,000 organizations, and a member of the International Council for Evangelism Explosion.
In addition to having earned degrees internationally - in India, Canada, and the Netherlands - Howell is an ordained minister of the Evangelical Church of India and author of the book "Transformation at Work," written in the English language, and two books in Hindi language. He has also contributed various academic articles to theological journals and has served as editor of the monthly magazine AIM published by the EFI publication Trust in India.
"I know Howell for more than 15 years, and we have had a wonderful co-working," Howell's predecessor, Yogarajah, said of him. "I am sure his vision for Asia and his dynamic leadership will take EFA to greater heights in the service of the Lord's kingdom."
For Howell, the new task and responsibility will be on ease only "as I continue trusting the Lord and diligently serve the Asian community."
"One thing that always I am reminded of is that I am not alone and the Body of Christ, which is the Church, is with me," the Indian leader stated.
"The continual support of the global family will help me in the progress," he continued. "The cross of Christ must be planted in Asia and the alliance unitedly will stand in this commission of serving the Church."
Underlining the major developments of EFA under the leadership of Yogarajah, who served as the EFA general secretary for seven years, Tunnicliffe commended Yogarajah for having been "a very hardworking, sincere and faithful leader whom I very much respect."
"His contributions to the Evangelical community in Asia and the world have been marvelous and praise worthy," He said.
Yogarajah, who leads the Evangelical Alliance of Sri Lanka (EASL) and also serves on the International Council and the Religious Liberty Commission of the World Evangelical Alliance, was later presented with a plaque by EFA's chairman, who expressed his appreciation for the faithful service of the Christian leader in the Asian community.
"His dedication, love and service for Asia and the world is great and plausible," Kim said.
Founded in 1983, EFA empowers national evangelical alliances to be members of transformation in Asia by uniting their churches to serve in the areas of mission and church planting, theology and church renewal, religious liberty, social concern, women's ministry, youth ministry and leadership development.
The evangelical body is comprised of a membership of 16 Asian national alliances and 12 associate members.