Christians on Time magazine's 100 most influential people

Published 25 April 2014  |  
People wave balloons in front of Pope Francis as he is driven through the crowd ahead of his weekly general audience in St. Peter's Square, at the Vatican, Wednesday, October 30, 2013. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

The Time Magazine's annual list of the 100 most influential people in the world includes individuals of all stripes from novelists to golfers, and from presidents to pop princesses.

Here are some of the Christians who made it into their list:

Pope Francis

It would be impossible to comment on the most influential people in the world today and not mention Pope Francis. His display of humble, deeply compassionate, and warm, caring Christianity has caused many to re-think their view towards the Catholic Church.

His leadership on issues of corruption within the Vatican, his no-nonsense attitude towards material extravagence among clergy, and desire to broaden Christian policy interest beyond issues of gay marriage and abortion has been seen as a welcome breath of fresh air.

His most recent pronouncement, the possibility of a change in policy towards remarried people receiving communion, wasn't made from a solid marble lectern, but in a phone call to an ordinary member of the faithful.

His place on this list is hardly surprising given he was Time's person of the year 2013.

Barbara Brown Taylor

A Christian as well as a non-fiction writer, preacher, professor, and theologian whose work in sharing the Christian faith through literature has been compared to CS Lewis and Frederick Buechner, Barbara Brown Taylor is one of the world's most influential women.

In her thirteen books, she has covered a diverse set of some of the most challenging themes, including the problem of pain, how to cope when God seems quiet, and the complex interplay between science and religion.

As she shares her writing with the world from her Georgia farm, she displays a gift of remarkable eloquence and an amazing ease in finding new ways to present a 2,000-year-old text.

One Amazon reviewer said of a book of her sermons: "Examples from everyday life never seem trite or forced and even when one thinks there's nothing new to be said about a Scripture passage, she presents a new twist, often one that can be immediately incorporated into daily living."

The Reverend Nicolas Guérékoyame-Gbangou and Archbishop Dieudonné Nzapalainga

In standing together, these two men represent two thirds of the greatest hope that the Central African Republic has for an end to the ongoing conflict.

Along with their Islamic partner in peace, Imam Omar Kabine Layama, they are working to show their fellow believers that Protestants and Catholics can co-exist peacefully with their Muslim neighbours.

They have been travelling round the country since the conflict began, doing their best to share a message of fraternity between those of different faiths. This was exemplified by Archbishop Nzapalainga's decision to give shelter to Imam Layama as he was not safe in his own home.

Speaking to Voice of America, Archbishop Nzapalainga said "a new day will eventually rise".

"Muslims [and] Christians, together, will join hands to build the CAR. Sooner or later, this message will resonate in the hearts of Central Africans," he said.  

Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe

In some parts of Africa, hope is in short supply. Sister Rosemary Nyirumbe has done her best to ensure that her community in Northern Uganda is not among them.

At the Saint Monica Girls' Tailoring Centre, she is doing much more than simply providing for the physical needs of women broken by rape and a war they were forced to fight. She is giving them a new start in life, an identity and personality of their own.

The school began taking in students and teaching them vocational skills in 1982, and since 2002, this school has been the home and sanctuary for more than 1,400 women.

Most of them have left captivity in the hands of the Lord's Resistance Army and now they are given real opportunities to gain accepted qualifications in tailoring, catering, secretarial studies and computer applications.

Forrest Whittaker, who narrated a documentary about her work called "Sewing Hope", wrote on her behalf in Time magazine. With deep affection and admiration, he said: "The traumas she heals are unfathomable, but the reach of her love is boundless."

Katharine Hayhoe

Christians are active in all fields that are fighting to make the world a better place. Katharine Hayhoe is on the front line in the study of global climate change.

Because of the threatening nature of her defiance of stereotypes, an Evangelical Christian Texan woman, she has been singled out for a great deal of criticism from anti Climate change figures such as Rush Limbaugh. But her writings are proving more powerful at changing people's minds, as her inclusion in this list shows.

Speaking about the need for Christians to get involved in the fight to prevent the world's sea levels rising, Ms Hayhoe said to Christian Today: "When we look at the issue of climate change, we see that it is affecting others, particularly the poor.

"When we look at resistance to climate change, we see fear: of losing our comfortable lives, our freedom, our money, our ideology."

The Assist News Service showed the power of some of her writings by sharing a quote from one of her books: "It's not about saving the planet: the planet will be fine without us. It's about helping people, real people who are being affected by climate change today.

"Higher energy bills for air conditioning, freak rainstorms, and droughts wiping out their food supply - rising sea level threatening their homes and fields. It's the poor and disadvantaged who are being hardest hit: those very people the Bible tells us to care for."

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