Pastor Rick Warren Encourages Pastors to Pray for Persecuted Christians in Iraq & Syria during Leadership Training Gathering in Kigali, Rwanda

KIGALI, Rwanda, August 13, 2014 Dr. Rick Warren, pastor of Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, California, and best-selling author of The Purpose Driven Life, today challenged pastors from across Africa to urgently pray for the persecuted Christians in Iraq and Syria during a Pastor Leadership Gathering in Kigali, Rwanda.

“Thousands of people are being killed for their faith in Syria and Iraq right now,” said Warren. “You should have people in your church praying for our brothers and sisters who are being confronted by extremist Muslim forces saying, ‘Convert or die.’”

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Warren went on to offer a prayer, asking God to relieve the pain of those persecuted in Iraq and Syria, protect their families, and to use their sacrifice as a witness to those who don’t know Jesus.

“Our hearts cry out for our brothers and sisters dying at this moment,” Warren prayed. “We pray for those in prison and in chains around the world right now.  We thank You for their faithfulness and pray it will give us courage and prepare us for facing rejection. We pray if persecution comes into our lives, we will be (similarly) faithful to stand for Christ.

“We also pray for members of churches burned in Nigeria, India and Sri Lanka,” Warren continued. “Help us never forget You have called us to come and die, and that this world is not our home. Help us to not look for the approval of others but the purposes of God.”

Warren is currently in Rwanda with leaders from more than 35 nations, including 31 African countries, Russia, China, India and the U.S. training Rwandan pastors on the principles of being a Purpose Driven Church and The PEACE Plan.

The training is preparing for an All Africa Purpose Driven Church Continental Congress to be held August 6-10, 2015 in Rwanda, which will bring together pastors and church leaders from all 54 African nations in conjunction with Rwanda Shima Imana, a Day of Thanksgiving to celebrate reconciliation and gratitude on the anniversary of the Rwandan genocide. It will be the first of five annual continent-wide conferences to take place by 2020, with the second planned to be held in Latin America in 2016.

Warren emphasized that both the leadership training this week and the Congress in 2015 will emphasize reconciliation, with Rwandan leaders sharing their stories of forgiveness and healing following the 1994 genocide, which took the lives of 1 million Rwandans and left 1 million children orphaned over the course of 100 days.

“I believe the secret to Middle East peace is in Rwanda,” Warren said during a press conference in Kigali on August 11. “World leaders should be studying Rwanda. This should be the model.”

The Purpose Driven concept Warren is teaching leaders this week is the biblical model of ministry, worship, fellowship, discipleship and evangelism. The PEACE Plan is a part of the Purpose Driven model and works worldwide to Promote reconciliation, Equip servant leaders, Assist the poor, Care for the sick and Educate the next generation, through a massive effort to mobilize millions of Christians to combat the five global evil giants of spiritual emptiness, self-centered leadership, extreme poverty, pandemic disease and illiteracy/education.

“I’m often asked what the difference is between Purpose Driven and The PEACE Plan,” Warren said. “Purpose Driven is the overall strategy that emphasizes five purposes of God. The PEACE Plan is simply a system for ministry and evangelism. Before you can do The PEACE Plan, your church must be healthy. That’s why we always teach Purpose Driven before we teach PEACE.”

The PEACE Plan was birthed in 2003 while Warren was speaking in South Africa. Two years later, following a call from His Excellency Paul Kagame, President of Rwanda, The PEACE Plan became a reality in Rwanda as the country became the first Purpose Driven nation.

Since its founding, Saddleback has sent over 23,000 members to implement The PEACE Plan in all 197 nations of the world. Additionally, 3,200 pastors, including many in Rwanda, have completed a three-year intensive training in the purpose-driven PEACE Plan.

“I have trained more than 400,000 pastors around the world but what is happening in this country is unique and that is because of the unity among all the churches and denominations,” said Warren. “Because you are willing to work together for one purpose, much has been accomplished in this nation. Purpose Driven is not a denomination. It is not even an organization. It is not some religious body. It is a strategy that every denomination can use, keeping their own distinctives.”

For more information about Saddleback’s work in Rwanda or The PEACE Plan, visit http://www.saddleback.com or http://www.thepeaceplan.com. For additional information about Rwanda Shima Imana, visit http://www.shimaimana.rw.

Founded in 1980 by Warren and his wife Kay, Saddleback Church has nine locations throughout Southern California, four international campuses, as well as an online campus, and is one of the most influential churches in the nation.

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