Indonesia receives a unique message of hope and reconciliation from 'Ambassadors for Peace' delegation


Date:  2014-09-26

Group of Human Rights leaders gather in Jakarta to hear about the 'Religious Rights Resolution' from the AM4Peace team and also share their views on it

By Dan Wooding reporting from Jakarta, Indonesia
Founder of ASSIST Ministries

JAKARTA, INDONESIA (ANS) -- One of the world's largest and most diverse countries - Indonesia - has just received a delegation from Ambassadors for Peace, a religious freedom organization, to discuss how everyone can live in peace with others who do not follow their religion or share their beliefs with complete free and open dialogue.

Delegates at the conference in Jakarta posing with a picture of Ameal Haddad, the co-founder of Ambassadors for Peace

The group, co-founded by Dr. Garry Ansdell, the Canadian-born senior pastor of Hosanna Christian Fellowship in Bellflower, California, and Ameal Haddad, an Arab pastor born in the Middle East and raised in Jordan, had already shared its distinctive message in many other countries such as Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, Syria and Morocco.

But sadly, Ameal Haddad passed away before this latest trip to Indonesia, which took place from September 26-29, 2014, and so a picture of Ameal Haddad, a pastor and community leader in Bellflower, California, was prominently displayed in the conference room of the Hotel Aryaduta Jakarta, was held.

Dr. Ansdell explained to the delegates, who were mainly drawn from various Indonesian Islamic communities, that Ambassadors for Peace was created shortly after the attacks on the World Trade Center in New York City on September 11, 2001, when Ansdell and Haddad began responding to Muslim and other leaders who, like them, thought there was a desperate need to codify and discuss in "an open dialogue, of th e differences and similarities of their faith and give dignity and respect to each other."

Dr. Garry Ansdell speaking

Dr. Ansdell said, "This is a once in a life opportunity for us to share with political and religious leaders who desire to see religious freedom spelled out for all. We all have a divine right to believe in God and acknowledging our differences, gives an honest approach to dialogue instead of pretending we all believe the same way."

Since that time, they have been leading the way internationally for many key members of different religious beliefs to come into agreement for a Religious Rights Resolution. The document's main theme is to "foster religious tolerance, the right to faith, freedom of speech, and freedom from reprisal or persecution, and open dialogue."

"Religious rights have a place in the workplace, community and between institutions and most importantly between individuals," he said. "This document puts in writing what people of religious beliefs already know to be true and necessary.

"The United Nations in Article 18 of its Declaration of Human rights has established the freedom of religion in all countries. This resolution spells out the application of that for the individual from all faiths in all countries."

Ansdell, who was once an atheist, acknowledges people's rights to also not to believe," and then he explained that since Ambassadors for Peace began, group members have shared their "religious rights resolution" with people from many different religious in North America, Europe, Middle East: Egypt, Morocco, Kuwait, Bahrain, Dubai, Korea, Japan, China, Australia and Syria.

Some of the delegates

He added, "Words spoken can change a heart. Words written can change a culture. Words agreed upon can change the world. The constitutions of any country codify the words of the people and its leaders. Bill of Rights that America holds so dear was dreamed of by oppressed people, spoken of by freedom-loving leaders, signed by men of vision. These words of liberty were codified as an umbrella for a society to be sheltered from the reigns of tyranny.

"Freedom of religion now needs its own 'Bill of Rights.' Lives are lost each day to the fanaticism of religion. Every generation has seen it and no religion can look at its history and be without blame. It is time for the moorings of religion to be acknowledged globally. They should not be politicized nor ignored. Every mainline religious leader of all faiths speak of the peace that their people want. The Religious Freedom Resolution gives individuals and leaders the opportunity to come together, not as one religion, but for the freedom of all religions.

He said that he and Pastor Ameal had traveled the world with the resolve of seeing people living with religious freedom, mutual respect, and acceptance of one another regardless of their religious affiliation.

Their mandate was:

* That all people have the right to peacefully co-exist
* That all people should have religious freedom, mutual respect, and open dialogue/debate in any open forum, without persecution or violence of any kind.

Javier Aguayo in Jakarta

Mexican-born Javier Aguayo, a Southern California businessman, and a board member of Ambassadors for Peace, also traveled to Indonesia, told the assembled group that he was particularly concerned with freedom of religion in the workplace.

"It fits right into the policies and procedures in all companies," he said. "The reason I got involved with Ambassadors for Peace was when I saw the application in the religious document that protects both the employer and the employees," he said.

Religious Rights in the Gulag

I also had the opportunity to share about my work on behalf of those being persecuted for their beliefs and told the story of Alexander Ogorodnikov, a Russian Christian dissident who had been sentenced to a labor camp in Siberia during the days of Communism.

Dan Wooding meeting with Alexander Ogorodnikov in Moscow

"Alexander had been in that camp for five years, and had not received any letters or visits from Christians and became so depressed because he felt nobody cared," I said. "He wrote to Mikhail Gorbachev and told him that he felt he was forgotten and asked Gorbachev to have him executed by firing squad so he could go to 'be with Jesus.'

"I heard about his case, got his address in Siberia, and went on US TV and asked people to write to him to say he was not forgotten.

"After this, Margaret Thatcher heard about his case, and asked Mr. Gorbachev to free him, and the Russian leader was so moved that he allowed him to go free, and not long after, in 1992, I was in Moscow working with Billy Graham during his historic Moscow crusade, and who should turn up was Alexander who came to thank me for 'caring.'

"It was one of the most moving movements of my life, as it showed what can happened when we get involved providing religious rights for others, whatever their background."

I also shared that I had been to a country where they people have no religious rights - except to worship their leader - and what was North Korea.

"We never want to live in a country that treats its people in this way," I said.

The group met with religious and political leaders while in Indonesia and if you would like more information on their work, please go to:

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