After more than a decade since the organization’s last general assembly, Bishop Efraim Tendero, secretary general of the World Evangelical Alliance, announced Friday at their latest gathering, that they are now ready to reach every nation of the world with the Gospel through strategic partnerships and focus.
“The WEA’s role is to unite and empower evangelicals globally by giving identity, voice and platform in every nation and that vision guides us in everything that we do,” Tendero said in an address to representatives from 92 countries who gathered at the Sentul International Convention Center in Bogor, Indonesia, for the seven-day General Assembly.
He explained that in the 11 years since the last general assembly, the organization had made many changes to better carry out their mission, including strengthening leadership teams such as their International Council led by Rev. Goodwill Shana, founder and senior pastor of Word of Life International Ministries in Zimbabwe and president of the Association of Evangelicals in Africa.
“As leaders, you all know that an organization is as good as its leadership in governance. The WEA has not always fared well in the past 11 years but things have changed for the better. … And that is why we are here. As chair of the IC I can confirm, my colleagues in the international council can affirm, that today the WEA has a constitutionally compliant, functionally effective international council, with members of impeccable character, veritable reputations as Christians and leaders who have for years, served the church,” he said. “Together we are stronger, more effective.”
Citing the apostle Paul in the New Testament, Tendero shared a comprehensive summary of how the organization is now working to achieve its mission.
“As secretary general of the World Evangelical Alliance, I often think of the Apostle Paul and his ministry as recorded in the New Testament. Paul traveled throughout the Christian world of his day enduring great hardships to encourage the believers,” Tendero said.
“Paul knew that his efforts would be in vain if the local churches will not prosper. He referred to the churches as his joy and crown. He prayed earnestly for them. He felt deep daily, emotional burden for the churches. And he was especially concerned that the church would function together in unity."
Among the WEA’s work areas, he said, is their global advocacy for religious freedom.
“Advocacy for religious freedom is one of our most important activities. This advocacy is essential to our goal of enabling the Gospel to be preached throughout the world. We also, as a matter of principle, support religious freedom for all people, not just Christians. In doing so, we gain respect and partners for our efforts,” he said.
He pointed to several countries like Algeria, where work with various partners to improve religious freedom has been ongoing.
“Our efforts to protect religious freedom in Algeria, where churches have recently been shut down by government authorities, are ongoing. Some churches were reopened in 2018 after we encouraged the U.S. State Department to look into the situation. However, in recent months, Algerian authorities have closed six more churches. Our member alliance in Algeria is appealing for support and prayers,” Tendero said.
He noted bright spots of hope in areas like Palestine.
“We just enjoyed a wonderful success this week when the Palestinian National Authority granted full recognition to our evangelical alliance in Palestine, which they have been seeking for 12 years,” he said.
“Christians all over the world are suffering for their faith. It is gratifying to know that we play a significant role in standing up for them and encouraging them.”
He also highlighted efforts to advance the WEA’s mission through an idea called polycentric mission.
“That is, the idea that mission should be from everywhere to everywhere, not just from the West to the rest,” he said. The organization expects to promote this mission by publishing books, mobilizing mission organizations and organizing mission consultations."
The WEA will also be pushing a global basic training program called “Re-forma,” targeting a million untrained pastors. Additionally, they have also launched the Society of Christian Scholars, a global network of Christians seeking to effectively represent and communicate the Gospel in academic settings which developed “Re-forma.”
Tendero also noted that the WEA will also be pursuing its mission through more interfaith and intra-faith relationships.
“As a voice for evangelical Christians globally, [the WEA] is recognized as among the most important religious organizations in the world. Some have expressed understandable concerns that our evangelical message could be compromised as we build friendships and collaborations with people of other faiths. But the apostle Paul called us to live at peace with all people. We have found that we can do so while clearly maintaining our commitment to Jesus Christ as our ‘calling card’ in every encounter,” he said.
“We have established friendly, ongoing institutional relationships with all major Christian confessions. As part of this work, we have appointed specific, highly knowledgeable individuals, such as our ambassadors to the Vatican, the Ecumenical Patriarchate of the Orthodox Churches, and the Russian Orthodox Churches."
Tendero said the WEA will now be looking to improve the way the organization uses social media and other platforms to tell their story in an aggressive push to create better disciples and form new alliances.
“We are not yet a truly global organization. We have national alliances in 131 nations, at various levels of organizational maturity. But there are about 62 more countries where we have no representation. We will be aggressive and focused in establishing new alliances and strengthening the current ones to maturity,” he said.
“During the next decade, we want to accelerate high-quality disciple-making efforts that will usher in global spiritual renewal and awakening, so that we can see the kingdoms of this world become the Kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ forever."