From Volume 1, Issue 6, 2017
Maybe we could just start off getting the reader educated. Could you tell us a little
about Barnabas Aid, its mission and purpose?
DOBBS: Barnabas exists in the United States and around the world to support Christians who have been
persecuted as a result of their faith, or Christians who are suffering in areas as a result of their faith,
bringing hope and aid to the church. We do that by calling for prayer, advocacy, and funding various
projects around the world. I am not an employee of Barnabas Aid, but I am a member of their board
and I have worked with the organization for a considerable number of years.
You are an Anglican Bishop, how was it that you got involved with Barnabas Aid,
and do you have a personal story working with Barnabas Aid that you could share
with the readers?
I got involved with Barnabas about 15 years ago when I was an Anglican pastor in New
Zealand. I welcomed the International Director of Barnabas to my congregation to talk about the
persecuted church, to open the scriptures and to teach on which Christians are suffering in the world
today. As a result of that, I signed up to get the prayer notes. Once I received those prayer notes,
began to pray with thousands of Christians around the world for the suffering Church, and my own
ministry began to develop with Barnabas Fund where eventually I retired from my congregation
as pastor and became one of the local directors for Barnabas Fund. I oversaw, at that time, their work
in southeast Asia. I was involved specifically with Christians in the Aceh region of Indonesia, who
were then suffering as a result of a province that is governed by Islamic law. After the tsunami of 2004
those Christians suffered even more significantly because not only were their homes and businesses
and livelihoods destroyed — their family members lost — they were also suffering as a result of being
a persecuted minority in the region. So I spent significant time there and in the Middle East working
with the Barnabas Fund.
One great thing about Barnabas Aid is that if you go to their website (barnabasfund.org),
you can find an area called “Newsdesk,” which is a weekly update with a lot of the
headlines around the globe of the different suffering of our brothers and sisters in
Christ and what kinds of things they have to go through. I happen to have it open, and,
for example, this particular week it talks about a Pakistani Christian left hospitalized
after being attacked by Muslims. When reading the article it becomes apparent
that this was not the first time it has happened. In this instance, it was just that he
had a cross in his car and they saw it and so they began to beat him.
There is another article from Egypt on Muslim extremists that attacked a local
church and tore up some cars and hurt a few of the Christians there. And it goes on;
Turkey adding “a simple tax.” That would be the same that was done during the Ottoman
Empire. I know that was a bloody war, but once it was over, Christians and Jews
remained in that area but since they were not Muslims they were taxed. I guess a penalty
tax. If you are a Muslim, the state takes care of you when you are old and they don’t
want to do that for the Christians. So every week there are a lot of these articles.
I guess the question for you would be, are these the kinds of things that Barnabas Aid
helps with like with legal action; although I don’t know what could be done there, or is
it just with helping with food, etc. in areas where they are hurt?
Around the world it is involved in both those very practical and personal supports of suffering
Christians, so providing food where Christians are starving. For example, in East Africa at the moment
there is a project called Project Joseph, where Barnabas Fund is supporting and aiding Christians.
I’m an Anglican Bishop, many Anglicans at the moment are enduring one of the severest famines
in East Africa. So, engaging at that significantly local and very basic level providing the necessities
of life to the Christian community. But we are also engaged at the governmental level petitioning governments,
with regards to the rights of Christian minorities under the U.N. Declaration of Human
Rights, to allow Christians to practice their religion without fear of reprisal. So, engaging in the United
Kingdom with the Foreign Commonwealth Office, engaging here in Washington, D.C. with leaders on
Capitol Hill, and engaging governments around the world where we are seeing Christians marginalized
as a result of their faith and urging legislation and other mechanisms to be put in place to enable
those Christians to be able to sing the hymns and pray the prayers that many of us in the United
States pray so freely without fear of reprisal.
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