Moldovan who fights human trafficking to receive BWA human rights award

Ilie Coada has launched projects to protect vulnerable women while also serving as a pastor and church planter.

By Robert Dilday

Ilie Coada, a Moldovan who has spent his career fighting human trafficking, is this year’s recipient of the Baptist World Alliance’s human rights award, the organization announced March 5.

The Denton and Janice Lotz Human Rights Award will be presented to Coada, a Baptist pastor, this July during the meeting of the BWA General Council in Izmir, Turkey.

Ilie Coada WebCoada has been active in attempts to reduce human trafficking in Moldova. He opened both a shelter for vulnerable girls, many of them fresh out of orphanages, to reside and continue their education, and a transition home where girls attending schools in the city may go for holidays and weekends.

He has founded a community center that offers after-school and summer programs, including tutoring, to more than 500 children and instituted scholarships that enable girls at risk to attend vocational schools and university.

In addition, Coada developed greenhouses and other small businesses that offer employment to girls and women in the community, helping them to care for their children.

Meanwhile, Coada continues as a pastor of a congregation and helps plant new churches in Moldova.

“Rev. Ilie Coada is an incredible example of a Baptist pastor who has not only preached the Word, but has also lived the Word authentically, quietly, humbly and without fanfare,” said Lauran Bethell, recipient of the 2005 BWA human rights award. “He has saved countless children from the worst kinds of slavery in the sex industry and has been an inspiration to me and to many others.”

The BWA, a fellowship of 228 conventions and unions in 121 countries, presents its human rights award each year to an individual who has made significant and effective contribution to secure, protect, restore or preserve human rights.

The idea of human rights as a moral and theological duty has been part of the Baptist World Alliance agenda since the group was organized in 1905. The BWA constitution states that one of the BWA’s main objectives is “to act as an agency of reconciliation seeking peace for all persons, and uphold the claims of fundamental human rights, including full religious liberty.”

Through its history the BWA has produced numerous statements on human rights, including support for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as early as 1950.

— With reporting by Eron Henry, BWA associate director of communications