The annual gathering of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA)is getting underway in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, with preliminary meetings that began July 3 and sessions for conversation and business that run through July 9.
A well-attended communications conference jointly sponsored by the BWA and the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation (one of six global regions within BWA) revealed some interesting realities.
On July 4, in a session at Kuala Lumpur Baptist Church, BWA communications director Eron Henry asked participants to talk about needs and obstacles they confront in getting their message out through various forms of media.
Along with expected issues like finding good writers and technology matters such as gaining better Internet access, an obstacle unfamiliar to Americans popped up time and again: freedom.
Many Baptists live in countries that frown upon or outlaw any perceived attempts to evangelize citizens or persuade them to convert from another religion to Christianity. Thus, Baptist communicators who want to share the good news about Christ and about their church or organization face restrictions on what can be posted or published.
In some cases, the government may restrict access to social media websites like Facebook; in others, Baptist communicators know that government watchdogs may be reading their publications, with potentially negative consequences.
Hearing this discussion on America’s Independence Day, I couldn’t help but be thankful for precious gifts so taken for granted that we often overlook them completely: the privileges of free speech and a free press are blessings that should not remain uncounted.