"We cannot be passive in the face of injustice; we must be involved. As Christians, we can do no other."
"I live in the world," says Charles Amjad-Ali, "not in the Church." An internationally- known teacher and social activist, ordained in the Church of Pakistan, Dr. Amjad-Ali has traveled the world teaching and working with ecumenical and human-rights organizations. Yet he considers himself an outsider. In his popular Christian Ethics class, he reminds his students that "Jesus was not born in a palace, but in a manger."
Dr. Amjad-Ali founded the Christian Study Center in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, in 1985, and worked there with his wife Christine. "The center served as a place where all sorts of groups could come and talk with each other," he says. "It helped to form a vision of the way that civil society should function." In his early years, Dr. Amjad-Ali took his message to the people, writing and performing street theater to educate the illiterate about economic issues. He wrote speeches for Benazir Bhutto, the first woman to head a modern Muslim state.
He has studied and taught both theology and political science at Princeton Theological Seminary, and he also holds a post-doctoral certificate in Islamic Law and History from Columbia University
Since the 1980s, Dr. Amjad-Ali has served on the World Council of Churches, including the Commission on World Mission and Evangelism. He tries to engage people of all faiths in what he calls "metalogue." He says: "Let's each of us hold onto our own particular beliefs, but let's work on how to deal with a particular social or political problem, and maybe we will come out with a common practice."
In the classroom, in public lectures and in his ecumenical work, Dr. Amjad-Ali advocates that the Church embrace all kinds of people. At his instigation, Luther Seminary started an annual essay contest on human rights issues. He's also working for labor rights and economic justice in the Third World. His latest project is to create a site on the World Wide Web that will be a clearinghouse for information on this issues.
"We cannot be passive in the face of injustice; we must be involved," he says. "As Christians, we can do no other."