As part of ACIERA’s regular practice of meeting with presidents and representatives of its various affiliated denominations, the organization hosted the Secretary General of the World Evangelical Alliance (WEA), Bishop Dr. Thomas Schirrmacher, on July 17 along with his wife and their daughter.
Schirrmacher shared with the pastors present some details of the WEA’s dealings with government agencies internationally, including situations where its testimony to the gospel lifts up the name of Christ. He affirmed that for world leaders, evangelicals are an important global community, and that in many countries, evangelicals have a lot of influence, such as in Kenya where the president is a Christian. On the other hand, he emphasized, “We Christians have a global responsibility to be united.” He noted that worldwide, about one-third of all evangelicals face persecution.
Schirrmacher spoke powerfully to the Argentinian and other Latin American pastors present about the role they need to play in the global context. “You are very much needed to protect the persecuted church,” he told them firmly and warmly, sharing with them his great concern and responsibility to support those whose lives are at risk because of their faith.
Schirrmacher described the “integration and representation of WEA” and how the different cultural and language contexts function within it. He highlighted that among the churches that the WEA represents, “God is worshipped on Sundays in more than four thousand languages.” He indicated a strong desire to more fully include people from all those contexts, including Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking ones.
“I am glad that the Alianza Evangélica Latina [AEL, the regional alliance for Latin America] is making great progress in reaching agreements with WEA”, Schirrmacher said. Present in the room were the AEL’s executive director, Pastor Jonatan Proietti, and its representative to the WEA, Marta Gáspari, as well as the current president of the Baptist World Alliance, Tomás Mackey.
“We are investing more in Spanish and Portuguese, rather than only in English, and we are doing more work with more evangelical alliances outside the English-speaking world,” the WEA Secretary General said. He also described the WEA’s recent formation of the World Chinese Christianity Alliance, which includes Chinese-speaking churches all over the world. “We have an agreement with the government of China,” he explained, “that evangelical churches in the country can be part of this global alliance but will not form one among themselves.”
Schirrmacher continued, “I want the Spanish- and Portuguese-speaking churches to sit at the WEA table. We have to be global, and that means being multilingual. A large part of the world still needs to be reached, and that is not going to happen in the English language but in people’s local languages. There are different cultural mindsets, not limited to language differences, that we need to know, learn and develop in order to carry out global evangelism.”
“Only together will we reach the world with the gospel!” he declared in his conclusion.
Afterwards, the president of ACIERA, Pastor Christian Hooft, presented Schirrmacher with a plaque in recognition of his work, and Pastor Hugo Baravalle delivered a prayer commending Schirrmacher’s life to God.