Baptist World Alliance, BWA News Release

Callam urges contextualization of the gospel

Baptist World Alliance Logo
Callam urges contextualization of the gospelA section of the large turnout at the 200th anniversary celebration in Yangon, Myanmar

Baptist World Alliance General Secretary Neville Callam offered praise to God and encouragement to Baptists in Myanmar during the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Baptist witness in the Southeast Asian country.

Callam, who delivered greetings at the opening service of the Myanmar Bicentenary on December 5, said the series of events were “a celebration of the faithfulness of God who, through changing seasons, has never failed to undergird, empower, equip and enable all who have sought to bear witness in Christ’s name in Myanmar.”

He challenged Myanmar Baptists to serve the Lord joyfully and to bear witness to their faith “with conviction, yet never straying from the path of humility, love and respect for all people.”  He said respect should be shown to other Christians and to people of other faiths and that they should stay true to the historical Baptist commitment to religious liberty “as a God-given right.”

Callam declared that remaining true to the gospel in culturally relevant ways, “Myanmarizing the faith,” was important. “Continue the work of finding the appropriate forms for communicating the Good News of Jesus in Myanmar,” he said. “Identify and introduce ways of responsibly appropriating the cultural traditions of the people of Myanmar in conveying the Gospel message.” They were to “develop and offer an authentic version of the Gospel that the people of Myanmar can easily understand and with which they can easily identify.”

In his sermon delivered on December 6, the head of the BWA said “if there is anything that we may learn from the 200 years of Baptist witness in this country, and if there is any principle that we should keep in focus for the years to come, it is this: Those who venture forth on pilgrimage with the God revealed in Jesus Christ are called to focus their lives and direct their energies toward one primary end, namely, the glory of God. This is the mark of true discipleship and this is the end of all Christian striving: the search for the glory of God.”

He challenged the large congregation to “participate in God’s grand design to bring all of creation under the lordship of Jesus Christ.” They were “to practice the love of God and neighbor that is part of God’s great desire for the people whom God has made.”  By these two means, Callam said, “the people will make known the very nature and character of God.”

Also on December 6, Callam led a delegation that met with Minister Aung Min, chief government negotiator leading the Myanmar Peace Process. Minister Min conveyed a positive vision of a future unified, pluralistic Myanmar society. Callam said “we should all pray for the establishment of peace with justice in Myanmar. Especially, we should remember prayerfully the leadership being exercised by Minister Min.”

Others in the delegation were Roy Medley, general secretary of American Baptist Churches USA, Stan Murray, International Ministries area director for Asia/Japan, Myanmar Baptist General Secretary Yam Khon Pau and leader of Karen Baptists of USA, Ler Htoo.

A series of events in 2013 inside and outside Myanmar were planned to mark the bicentenary, with the celebrations in the country climaxing in December.

Baptist witness in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, began in 1813 with the arrival of Adoniram and Ann Judson. The Myanmar Baptist Convention, with almost one million members in more than 4,700 churches, is one of the largest BWA member organizations in Asia.

An estimated 30,000 Baptists gathered in the city of Yangon for the 200th anniversary celebration.

Callam urges contextualization of the gospelBWA General Secretary Neville Callam, 4th left, with other members of the Baptist delegation and negotiators of the peace process in Myanmar

The Baptist World Alliance, founded in 1905, is a fellowship of 253 conventions and unions in 130 countries and territories comprising 51 million baptized believers in 176,000 churches. For more than 100 years, the Baptist World Alliance has networked the Baptist family to impact the world for Christ with a commitment to strengthen worship, fellowship and unity; lead in mission and evangelism; respond to people in need through aid, relief, and community development; defend religious freedom, human rights, and justice; and advance theological reflection and leadership development.