Ed: Tell us a little about the World Evangelical Alliance and some of what you are up to around the world.
Brian: The World Evangelical Alliance (WEA) was founded in the 1840s as a way for Evangelicals to connect globally. (It is estimated there are up to 600 million Evangelicals today.) Connections happen around a variety of issues, including evangelism, religious persecution, missions, slavery of all kinds and public engagement. There are 130 National Alliances, formed to serve as a voice and presence within their respective countries.
Ed: We often run “Dispatches from the World Evangelical Alliance” on The Exchangem where you talk about your visits to various countries and what God is up to. Where do you see God moving powerfully and how is that playing out?
Brian: For example, in 1900 there were 50,000 Evangelicals in Latin America. Today, that has jumped to 100 million. Not long ago, there were just a handful of Christians in Nepal. Today, that is closer to 1.5 million. While numbers keep growing, the real stories are about how the transformative presence of the Christ is bringing healing and witness in the most surprising places and ways. In Kiev, Ukraine, a concert choral group and symphony created an ‘adoption’ of widows, providing food, medical care, home assistance, and of course, great music and worship.
Ed: How can people in the West get more plugged into what’s going on globally with the Christian faith and witness?
Brian: It takes effort for us to see and hear beyond the noise and news of our own worlds. This is so true here in North America. I wrote An Insider’s Guide to Praying for the World, which is designed to help us think about and pray for other peoples and countries. Find a book, website, blog, or podcast as a way to consciously become familiar with others. Ensure your congregation has a missions focus at least once a year. Of course, once you give to an international ministry or an agency active in one or more countries, you open a window through which the Spirit activates you with increased awareness, concern, prayerfulness, and giving.
Ed: The WEA is opening up an office at the Billy Graham Center at Wheaton College, where I serve as Executive Director. Tell us a little about that and the person/people you are looking to serve in that capacity.
Brian: As a global evangelical association, we have the joy and responsibility in building our National Alliances, facilitating our many partners and commissions. Wheaton is a place with many evangelical connections. The Billy Graham Center is a global hub for Evangelicals, so we are excited to open an office in the BGC, particularly now that Lausanne North America is also there and connected with the BGC.
There will be two people staffing the office, and the first person we are hiring is a development director. The office will communicate to our partners around the globe what we are doing in so many places and among so many people. Here is the website, and if you know of someone who might fit this role, please help us share the word!
Ed: How can people in general get more connected with the WEA?
Brian: First take a look at our website. You can also follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and at our sign-up form. Also, an important issue for us is religious persecution. Connect on Twitter with @WEARLC1 for regular updates on needs of persecuted Christians globally.
Ed Stetzer holds the Billy Graham Distinguished Chair of Church, Mission, and Evangelism at Wheaton College, is executive director of the Billy Graham Center, and publishes church leadership resources through Mission Group.