Negotiating with nations on concerns such as persecution and violation of human and religious rights is complex. We are constrained or motivated by bias, which normally suggests we finish up supporting 1 political regime whilst rejecting what one more is performing, when in reality, each might seem comparable. Inadvertently, we pick 1 side in 1 scenario, even even though it is opposite to how we might have selected formerly. We finish up holding our nose, pretending there is no discrepancy.
Wissam al-Saliby, a liaison officer with the WEA in our Geneva Workplace of International Advocacy, explains how this operates.
A Swiss journalist lately asked me, throughout an interview, “Should Christian organizations be neutral towards governments?” when the killing of the Saudi journalist, Jamal Khashoggi, was brought up. The implications of neutrality have been that organization can continue as usual as a kind of Christian witness. The option could be the breaking down of relationships among Christians and these rulers. My response was anything like this: “Is God neutral? Absolutely not. As Evangelicals we want to imitate God as revealed in the individual of Jesus. God is on the side of the widows, the orphans, the strangers, and the poor. We can’t stay neutral if we want to be in harmony with the heart of God.”
In my function with the Planet Evangelical Alliance (WEA) in Geneva, we interact with diplomats from all sorts of nations, like nations below robust scrutiny for their human rights record. Globally, our WEA leaders meet with ministers, presidents and other senior politicians from all more than the planet. Evangelical and Christian leaders far more broadly routinely meet with leaders, ambassadors, foreign ministers, kings and princes, and religious leaders from areas like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Myanmar, Jordan, North Korea, and Syria.
This raises the query: what is our attitude and discourse toward authorities whose corruption and injustice is affecting tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of their personal folks, and whose laws deny the freedom to pick one’s religion? How must we engage with the “Ahabs” and the “Rehoboams” of now, oppressing their folks and abusing energy for private wealth and prestige?
Let me provide a handful of reminders.
Very first, we should listen to the regional church.
We have to have to be listening to the voices of these on the front lines who prophetically engage with their political leaders and advocate justice and religious freedom. And it is okay to disagree with the regional church who, in some nations, might assistance the unjust authorities in location, or might assistance the violent overthrow of, or even war against, the regime in location.
In current months, I was exposed to such narratives in circumstances in at least 3 distinct nations. But nevertheless, it is essential to listen to regional churches in order to fully grasp exactly where they are coming from, and to recognize the prophetic voices which could be the majority or the minority.
Second, we should try to remember that our witness is about God and his Lordship.
It struck me in 1 Kings 20 that when the Syrians decided to attack Israel, God’s response was not about Israel but about himself and about realizing him: “Thus says the Lord, ‘Because the Syrians have mentioned, “The Lord is a god of the hills but he is not a god of the valleys” for that reason I will give all this wonderful multitude into your hand, and you shall know that I am the Lord.’”
In our interaction with political leaders and diplomats, our mission is very first and foremost about witnessing to the Lordship of God.
Third, we should unapologetically condemn injustice.
The journalist’s query that I cited earlier was primarily based on a line of evangelical pondering exactly where political detachment – neutrality à la Swiss – is viewed as vital for Christian witness.
I am convinced that this is incorrect. The prophet Elijah the Tishbite relayed God’s condemnation to King Ahab for the killing of Naboth. The prophet Nathan relayed God’s condemnation to King David for the killing of Uriah. John the Baptist condemned Herod’s marriage to his brother’s wife.
“If justice perished, the foundations of the complete cosmic order would disintegrate, for the reason that justice is basic to the quite nature of the Lord, the creator of the universe and to the core of God’s government of history,” writes Christopher Wright in his book Old Testament Ethics for the Persons of God (2004, p. 253)
Fourth, we should reject favoritism or bias.
A single evangelical leader engaged in peacemaking with North Korean leaders explained to me about the suffering of North Koreans and brought an explanation to the hostile and belligerent actions of its leadership. When we moved to discussing Israel and Palestine, he wondered at the irrationality of Hamas firing rockets on Israelis and failed to apply the similar requirements to fully grasp the suffering of the Palestinians resulting from the longstanding siege of Gaza, and the hostile actions of Hamas towards Israel.
Also, I’ve heard some praising Saudi Arabia’s leadership whilst demonizing that of Iran, whilst other people praised Syria’s Assad whilst demonizing Saudi Arabia’s Ben Salman. God is just and has 1 measure to weigh the actions of folks. In Deuteronomy 28, God warns Israel that if they behave the similar way as the Canaanites, he will treat Israel as his enemy on the similar terms as the Canaanites and inflict the similar punishment on them by utilizing other nations. (Wright, p. 476)
Fifth, justice can be referred to as out privately, in the King’s court, for the King might nevertheless repent.
Deciding upon among going public or advocating privately and with some confidentiality is a challenging query to answer. Right now, the WEA Geneva group is faced with this query for many nation circumstances. In international diplomacy, speaking up, naming, and shaming are (normally) not the very first step.
Rather, backroom diplomacy and advocacy is the norm. States, international organizations, and human rights organizations give these who violate human rights the chance to adjust course.
The WEA seeks to advance the proper to freedom of religion and belief in order to fulfill its mission to establish and strengthen national evangelical alliances. In pursuit of this mission, backroom diplomacy can make private connections and mutual trust (trust is so substantially required now) and encourage our interlocutor to adjust the policy toward religious minorities, modify a legislation detrimental to religious freedom, release detained pastors, or let closed churches to re-open.
A single criterion to make a decision on going public or not is repentance, or altering course . Ahab repented. Queen Esther’s pleas to the King Ahasuerus have been heard. Repentance is not only expressed by bringing these who killed and tortured to a criminal court, but by a adjust of heart of the ruler and a adjust of course of governance.
I sound idealist. I know. “Repentance” is distant from realpolitik and national (and private) interests. But I am in the organization of witnessing to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, and not in the organization of promoting and getting goods, public relations, and influence.
Right here amongst United Nations employees and amongst diplomats in Geneva, or in meetings in the capitals of states, evangelicals are witnessing to the Lordship of Jesus Christ. This suggests not only witnessing to God’s uncompromising and unwavering really like, but also to his balance of justice and mercy that calls all folks, like the rulers of this planet, to repentance and righteousness.
Brian C. Stiller is a International Ambassador for the Planet Evangelical Alliance.