On the Monday of Holy Week, April 14, General Secretary A. Roy Medley attended President Obama’s Easter prayer breakfast, along with many faith leaders and participated in a briefing by faith-based staff who are embedded in the various branches of the Executive branch of government. President Obama welcomed religious leaders to the White House for the fifth-annual Easter prayer breakfast.
On Wednesday morning, April 23, Medley followed up on the briefing with Melissa Rogers, who heads the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Rogers is a Baptist whom Medley has known for several years, to discuss how American Baptist Churches can connect with the administration on issues of importance to ABC such as Burma.
Later in the day Medley together with ABCUSA taskforce on Burma refugees, Florence Li, Stan Murray, Saw Ler Htoo, Rollin Van Bik, Mark Caruana and others, met with staff from the State Department and the International Religious Freedom office. The Department of State has named Burma as one of three nations that they would like to make a special effort to connect with in-country religious leaders.
At this meeting, Medley was able to share the concerns of American Baptist Churches USA about the situation in Burma and to provide connections with various religious leaders. Medley shared testimonies that he and other members of the American Baptist delegation heard from the Kachin Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) when in Rangoon in December, 2013.
The State Department team will be going to Burma this summer, and Dr. Medley has been asked, along with others from American Baptist Churches, to return for a further briefing.
On Thursday morning, April 24, Medley met with the faith-based staff in USAID and other State Department staff and did another briefing about Burma. He again shared with them the concerns that had been voiced in Rangoon, and was able to discuss some of the development needs shared from church and local officials in the Chin state.
In each briefing Medley stressed the violence against the Kachin and the Rohingya, the importance of contact with Baptist leaders in Burma because of the size of the Baptist community in the ethnic groups, and disbelief that the U.S. Military would ask the Burmese Generals who are the authors of so many human rights and religious liberty violations to sit as honored observers of joint US-Thai military operations.
“It is exciting to see how God has been orchestrating avenues of access for us in our concerns for Burma. Please pray for these efforts,” said Medley.