2016 seemed to mark a high point in a global wave of social, political, and cultural upheaval that has been building over the past decade. We have seen turmoil not only in countries like Syria, Iraq, and Myanmar but also in the United Kingdom and here at home in the U.S. Much stems from failures of leadership and governance, particularly with respect to how the values, identities, and grievances of significant segments of a country’s population have been overlooked or disrespected.

Thus, at IGE when we engage sensitive issues such as religious freedom and religion-related conflict, we begin by humbly listening to those who live, breathe, and encounter the issues first-hand in their daily lives, both common citizens and government officials. Our approach to addressing complex issues involves collaborating with local partners to jointly develop strategies, and then catalyzing action by bringing to bear any resources—financial, intellectual, cultural, political, or religious— from IGE’s global network that could be helpful. I believe this model of partnership will be key to enabling governments and organizations navigate through storms of upheaval that lie ahead.

In concert with our global partners, IGE will be embarking on some exciting programs this upcoming year. Below is a sample of what is in store:


  • In Iraq, IGE is raising assistance for victims of ISIS to return to their liberated hometowns in the Nineveh Plains and rebuild their lives. IGE is also working with local government and multifaith leaders on efforts to forge a long-term solution for urgent challenges of coexistence, stability, and reconciliation.
  • In Myanmar, IGE will hold the second Religion & Rule of Law training program in Mandalay. This training will equip government officials, religious leaders, and academics with tools and resources on building religious freedom through the rule of law.
  • In Vietnam, IGE will hold the second provincial-level Religion & Rule of Law training program focusing on the Central Highlands region.
  • In Indonesia, IGE will be holding the first-ever Religion & Rule of Law training program in the country.
  • IGE’s Center for Women, Faith & Leadership will be welcoming its second cohort of Fellows. The Fellowship is an innovative program that builds the leadership capacity of women of faith from around the world working on issues related to religious freedom, conflict resolution, and peacebuilding.
  • In IGE’s quarterly journal, The Review of Faith & International Affairs, upcoming issues will look at “Christian responses to persecution” and “religious radicalism.”
  • IGE will hold a policy briefing in Washington, DC on the U.S. international religious freedom promotion.

While the state of the world may look daunting, I often remind myself of one of IGE’s “Principles of Engagement” that our founders, Robert and Margaret Ann Seiple, formulated 16 years ago: “Recognize that the adjective ‘intractable’ is an insult to a sovereign Lord.”