Baptist World Alliance Statement on Refugees
I am at the meetings of the Executive of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) held in Falls Church in Washington, DC. What a tumultuous time to be meeting as the international Baptist family! It is also so very much worth remembering that today is International Women’s Day (one day there should be an International Men’s Day although many believe that we have enough of those anyway…lol). Coincidentally, the story of a young woman from Nigeria was shared this morning by Elijah Brown, the new General Secretary of the North American Baptist Fellowship. Nigeria is home to 2 of the 5 most lethal terrorist groups in the world. It is 2nd only to Syria in the number of internally displaced people. The story of the young woman this morning was of her and her family being displaced by Boko Haram. Her whole family was in a displaced persons camp. Her parents decided to try and go back to the farm they had abandoned but they left this young woman of 16 in charge of her 3 younger brothers. Elijah Brown asked her what she wanted to do when she grew up and what her name was. She said she wanted to be a doctor. She said she went to church because she knew only Jesus could save her. She had the most difficult time caring for her 3 younger siblings with so few resources. Her name, by the way, her name, she said, was Mighty. “Would you spell your name for me?” said Elijah upon hearing it. And she repeated, “Mighty”, to which Elijah said, and maybe all of us should say, “You have lived you name. Yes, mighty indeed.”
Please find below the BWA Declaration on Refugees released in February this year:
A Baptist World Alliance statement on refugees
Created: Friday, 03 February, 2017
“The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) reaffirms its biblical stance concerning refugees, vulnerable people who are oftentimes victimized for their faith.
In a resolution approved by its General Council in Vancouver, Canada, in July 2016, the BWA calls upon its “member bodies, affiliated churches, and individual believers to actively embrace opportunities for Christian ministry and witness that exemplify the biblical teaching to love the stranger (Lev. 19:18b) and Jesus’ teaching to love our neighbors as ourselves (Matt. 22:37-40), being salt and light in ways that bring the values of our Lord into our culture.”
The resolution further encourages Christian believers “to personally engage with all refugees and displaced persons, generously showing God’s love and care as we demonstrate the sufficiency of God made known through Jesus Christ.”
In light of this resolution passed a little more than six months ago and previous resolutions in 2011 and 2013, the BWA decries recent actions by the United States Government to issue a blanket travel ban on seven countries that specifically targets refugees and that seems to especially affect Muslims.
These actions are already having a negative impact on the lives of families. It has adversely affected service providers who work directly with refugees and has created unexpected difficulties for Baptist institutions in the United States, such as universities and seminaries, with students enrolled from the seven named countries.
While the BWA recognizes that a government has a right to create and maintain conditions that provide for the safety of its citizens, there is a temptation to give in to fear and to hastily pursue misguided policies that will have deleterious long-term effects and that undermine freedom of religion.
We accept this is not a situation that has emerged quickly and is in part a response to longstanding problems in these seven countries. We decry unjust actions that are too often left unaddressed and conditions that are allowed to deteriorate.
We note that in Iraq, Christians, Yazidis and others face genocide at the hands of the Islamic State. Over the last decade, the Christian population in Iraq has shrunk from 1.5 million to less than 200,000.
In Yemen, a Global Alert from the Famine Early Warning Systems Network indicates that Yemen is at risk of the highest level of food insecurity.
Syria is one of the most complex conflicts and humanitarian situations in our world that has devastated the country, which faces a future of trauma and rebuilding.
Baptists, fellow Christians and all people of goodwill should work to reverse conditions that lead to displacement in these and other countries and for peace, harmony and justice to prevail.
The BWA commends Baptists in countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Lebanon, Germany, Sweden, Croatia, Serbia and elsewhere, who have embodied the biblical mandate to stand with the vulnerable and to extend Christian hospitality. We support Baptists in the United States who offer welcome and provide assistance.”
Quote of the Week: The European Baptist Federation represents about 825,000 people. Turkish Baptist churches are applying to be received into the BWA family and 1 of them is in a small town (for various reasons nameless for now) for which there is no other Christian church of any description within 2-3 hours drive, not 1 church.
News from the Family: Some of our camps are preparing for weeks that are already fully booked. Pray to the Lord not just to bring campers but that the Holy Spirit might prepare them to meet Christ anew.