Three Rivers Church and Our Global Partners, I want to make you aware of our participation in an event in Washington DC next week. I will be representing our church as part of the Washington Declaration. The Letter below from the Forum Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, explains what will be happening and what I will be participating in.
As we have stated before, in working in the public square, we nor anyone we seek to reach with the love of Jesus has to sacrifice any of our distinctive doctrines. In fact, we hold them firmly and still agree on our common values for the purpose of promoting peace among our people.
This is good for everyone, and it protects all religious minorities when enacted at every level. We have a long way to go. Our people have suffered much, and I want to do everything I can to assist them in helping to gain peace so they can hold high our message and love their neighbors as themselves without the continual fear of arrest or death.
It will always be dangerous to work in hard places in our domains of society, but we should not have to do that in dark corners fearing another attack. We want to work in every way for peace and the advance of the Kingdom of God in Jesus Christ for all men.
So, if you see my picture, name or anything else in any publication or social media post, you’ll know what I’m up to. We are seeking to love God and our neighbor as ourselves as we seek to hold up Jesus among those who disagree with us and to do so in love and peace and good for all.
My reaching out to our Muslim friends in Rome is slow and is moving slowly, but it’s a must. Nadeem, from the Rome Islamic Center, as spoken to our people about the distinctives between Islam and Christianity, and we love him and his people. He wants us to believe as he does. We want him to believe as we do. We have to continue to reach out, build bridges and actively love as we put hands and feet to our prayers.
Pray for me, pray for all involved, and pray Jesus is lifted high.
Below is the stated purpose of the event that is hosted by Imam Mohammed Magid, Rabbi David Saperstein, and Pastor Bob Roberts. I will be there as a spiritual son of Bob’s and a representative who seeks to work in the public square for the Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
So, read below, and ask me anything you like. See you Sunday!
In the Name of God, Most Compassionate, Most Merciful
From the Historical Marrakesh Declaration to the Washington Declaration:
A Call to World Peace
Almost two years ago on January 27, 2016, the Marrakesh Declaration for the rights of religious minorities in Muslim majority lands was issued. Over 350 Muslim scholars and leaders from over sixty countries across the Muslim and Arab world signed onto the declaration. , Importantly, the Islamic gathering that issued the Declaration was also attended by a significant group of religious leaders who represent the various religious minorities found in Islamic majority states. In attendance also were representatives from the UN and other international organizations, as well as representatives from NGOs engaged in inter-religious peace-building.
With this Declaration, His Eminence Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, the president of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies, based in Abu Dhabi, UAE, sought to do the following:
First: To declare, strongly and clearly, that the oppression of religious minorities—indeed any form of aggression against them—contradicts the values of Islam. To do so, the Declaration examined the distortions of religious teachings, whose true aims are to preserve life and protect rights, including the freedom of religion, in order to ensure peaceful coexistence between Muslims and other faith communities. Extremist groups use these distortions to justify violence against people in general, and people of other faiths in Muslim majority communities in particular.
Second: To establish a religious and intellectual basis for the discourse of coexistence rooted in equal citizenship. This discourse arises out of a deep understanding of the responsibility of religious leadership to search their scripture and tradition to find a basis and foundation for the values of mutual respect and coexistence, as well as the
suppression of the specter of violence and expulsion. The spirit and principles of the Marrakesh Declaration were inspired by the Charter of Medina in which the Prophet declared equal and mutually equitable rights and responsibilities for all the residents of Medina, with their varying religious and tribal affiliations, making it the first contractual constitution in Islam.
Third: To find a philosophical common ground, as well as practical steps, that religious leaders from the Abrahamic family, can agree upon in order to form a global “Alliance of Virtue.” This alliance can work towards easing the pain of humanity, fighting poverty, protecting freedoms, and calling for an end of oppression.
Fortunately, the Marrakesh Declaration was deemed a great success and received wide praise from international political figures. It was also endorsed by interfaith activists who lauded it as a landmark initiative offering a practical framework for religious freedom and choice. It has led to the creation of the largest alliance of religious leaders taking practical steps towards promoting peace and a culture of mutual respect.
In this way, the Marrakesh Declaration served as the basis for the “American Peace Caravan” initiative, a flagship program of the Forum for Peace, which included, in its various phases, sixty American religious leaders from the Abrahamic family—rabbis, priests, and imams. Together, they visited prominent cities in the Muslim majority world, such as Abu Dhabi (May 2-4, 2017) and Rabat (October 24-26, 2017), where they conducted workshops and seminars solidifying the spirit of cooperation and mutual understanding between the individual participants, and developing proposals for joint civic initiatives. The American Peace Caravan illustrates the efficacy of such initiatives in building coalitions of cooperation and coexistence; it also highlights the importance of working towards solidifying and broadening the initiative so that it may become a true alliance of virtue that embodies the values of peace, harmony, and mutual respect between religions.
Promoting initiatives that put these principles into practice is critical to dealing with the great challenges faced by humanity today, particularly in light of the widespread violence and unprecedented instability. Every day these conditions worsen. If all people don’t work together now, the dangers facing future generations increase, which will result in their suffering insurmountable consequences, such as overpopulation, environmental degradation, poverty, loss of security, and social and ethnic division.
All of this highlights the importance of adopting a philosophy of peace, as well as the importance of reasonable religious leaders and figures across the world building a united front based on such a philosophy. In this way, they can forge a humanitarian coalition dedicated to realizing our shared values. It is the ignorance of these shared values that has led to an emphasis on our differences and, in turn, the widespread hatred and violence we see today.
Only when the Abrahamic faiths—given their shared values and virtues—reconcile and resolve their disputes, can the spirit of peace spread throughout the world. It will also enable the pursuit of justice, goodness, as well as the redress of wrongs and oppression. These religions coming together would promote our shared values in the realm of relationships between people, for they would be informed by religions and belief systems that proclaim the sanctity of life and value cooperation in good works and seeking universal virtue that crosses cultural and religious boundaries.
For these reasons, the Washington Declaration, which will be issued by the American Peace Caravan at its conference in Washington, DC (from February 5-7, 2018), may be the catalyst for a coalition such as the one called for by His Eminence Shaykh Abdallah Bin Bayyah, president of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslims Socieities. Such a coalition would be a revival of the historic “Alliance of Virtue,” which was attended by the Prophet Muhammad before his mission. The Alliance was formed to support the oppressed and defend the foundations of coexistence in society. Later in his life, the Prophet Muhammad lauded the values it was built upon and declared his willingness to partake in similar such efforts, if he were invited to do so.
Humanity is in dire need of a new Alliance of Virtue that would encompass all of our common values, such as mutual respect, acceptance of difference and diversity, dialogue, and engagement. It would serve as an open invitation to all well-intentioned people everywhere to unite and bring hope for a better future to the greater human family.