There are many Christian leaders who have expressed their belief that Americans are responsible for welcoming and absorbing many of the refugees and immigrants from the Muslim nations of the Middle East, even though our national security experts strongly oppose such a move based upon our inability to screen them. In addition, many of the Christian leaders who strongly advocate opening our borders seem to be ignoring the impact of Islamic immigration in Europe over the past few years, and especially what has been happening since the refugee crisis began. We have been told that if we do not bring in refugees then we are failing in our Christian responsibilities.
Our church has directly expressed our support to President Trump for his recent travel ban. We decided that we could not stand by silently while Dr. Russell Moore, as president of the ERLC, published an open letter to the President in disagreement of his policies on the refugee situation. He supported his position by referring to the 2016 resolution on refugees adopted by the SBC at its annual meeting.
When we study the Bible and examine what it says about immigration, sojourners, and foreigners living within host nations, we find that the issue is not as simple as many suggest. God clearly warned about the dangers of allowing foreigners to adversely impact Israel. Israel’s downfall came as the result of embracing the pagan gods of foreigners living within the land.
We believe, while the Bible tells us to show compassion to the sojourner and stranger, that God does not want us to be foolish and gullible, ignoring genuine dangers and consequences to our own nation in the process. The world is in crisis because we are in the last days. Our church and denomination are committed to evangelism to the Muslim world but it must be done with wisdom.
We have sent a letter to Dr. Moore, signed by the members of our congregation, expressing our disagreement with his stance and his use of the secular media to express his disagreement with the President.
Perhaps we are a minority in the Southern Baptist Convention, but we feel that since Dr. Moore and the ERLC has loudly voiced what is presented to be the official SBC position, it is our responsibility to express our direct disagreement. Neither Dr. Moore nor the ERLC speaks for us.
Perhaps many would consider us to be narrow-minded and nationalistic, but we consider ourselves evangelistic, caring, compassionate Christians who have determined that compassion is not best expressed by ignoring reality, nor at the cost of our responsibilities as Christian citizens. Sometimes we need to speak out even when our view may not be acceptable to others.
RICHMOND, Va. (BP) — Twenty-nine Southern Baptists were appointed as missionaries to the nations during the International Mission Board’s trustee meeting Feb. 28-March 1 near Richmond, Va. Trustees also heard numerous reports and recognized 63 missionaries who retired or died within the past year.
During IMB’s Sending Celebration service, new missionaries represented churches that cooperate with 11 state Baptist conventions. The missionaries will take the Gospel to peoples in Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East, Sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia, South Asia, Southeast Asia and the Americas.
Newly appointed missionary Carter Finley* of North Carolina said God is providing unprecedented opportunities for her to serve Him among the nations, and “with a degree in fibers, fabrics and handcrafted textiles, along with a desire to take the good news of Jesus to the ends of the earth, the Lord is allowing her to literally and figuratively weave the Gospel of Jesus Christ into the hearts of Central Asians.”
Aaron and Melissa Stormer of Hilldale Baptist Church in Clarksville, Tenn., are being sent to the American peoples. Aaron said they are going “because we know that God’s heart is for all people to know His name.”
Melissa noted she realized God’s heart for the nations while sharing the Gospel in a small mountain village in Haiti.
“I felt Jesus whispering, ‘I died for them as well as you,'” she said during the March 1 celebration. Her husband felt God calling him to the mission field while walking the stone-lined streets and surrounded by blue tiles and the lost people of Porto, Portugal.
“God has called us to go and carry out His mission in order that the lost may be found and His truth proclaimed,” she said.
Jim* and Pam Smith* expressed thanks that Southern Baptist churches work together through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering to send and support missionaries. Jim said it was as a young Royal Ambassador (a Southern Baptist missions discipleship program) at a church in Virginia that he became aware of God’s heart for the nations. From Panama to China, short-term mission trips were formative in turning his heart toward the nations.
Growing up as a pastor’s kid in Colorado and Virginia, Pam felt God used short-term mission trips from the bush of Kenya to the busy streets of Turkey to awaken her desire to go from short-term to full-time missions. The Virginia couple will share the Gospel in South Asia.
‘A day of wide open doors’
During the trustees’ plenary session, IMB President David Platt implored trustees to lead Southern Baptists away from the deception, diversion, distraction and division that have dominated news not just in American culture, but also in the church, and specifically the Southern Baptist Convention. Rather, Southern Baptists should be looking at what the apostle Paul refers to as a “wide door for effective work” (1 Corinthians 16:8-9).
“We are living in a day of wide open doors here and around the world, and it is high time for Southern Baptists not to divide, but to join together — not to be distracted, but to be resolutely focused on the purpose for which we came together in the first place: the spread of the Gospel in a world of urgent need … a world of urgent need and unprecedented opportunity,” Platt said.
Sharing a video story about Abuk, a young refugee from Africa who obediently answered God’s call to return to Africa to make disciples, Platt praised God for a Southern Baptist church in Amarillo, Texas, that reached out to the immigrant family.
“We hear those words “refugee, immigrant” today, and they’re so politically charged, and if we’re not careful, we can start to picture immigrants as problems to be solved, not people to be loved,” Platt said. “Brothers and sisters, there are wide open doors to love people right around us in a way that leads to love for people all around the world.
“This is a story of a refugee turned IMB missionary! And that’s possible — why? Did you see the news headline in that video? ‘Baptists come together despite barriers.’ Oh, may that be the commentary on our cooperation in this day of wide open doors.”
This story was compiled by Baptist Press staff with reporting from the International Mission Board and is reprinted from Baptist Press (www.baptistpress.com), the news service of the Southern Baptist Convention.
* Names changed.
Dr. Russell Moore, President
The Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission
505 Second St., N.E.
Washington, D.C. 20002
February 26, 2017
Dear Dr. Moore,
Your recent open letter to President Trump and Vice President Pence, in which you presented your views about the travel ban, implies by its letterhead and your official position as the president of the ERLC, that your views are representative of the Southern Baptist Convention. Your letter therefore forces me, a pastor, along with the members of our Southern Baptist church, to enter the discussion and make it clear that you do not speak for us. Your public declarations through your letter as well as at other times make it necessary for us to make our views known in response. Our first response is to you directly.
We have neither the position, nor the desire, to present our views in the pages of a major newspaper as you have done. Instead, we will next begin to communicate on a smaller scale with the appropriate individuals and agencies that we feel should be contacted in order to make our views clear.
We are absolutely in favor of President Trump’s travel ban for both immediate security concerns for the United States, as well as in view of the obvious circumstances surrounding what is happening in Europe, particularly in connection with the refugee crisis. In spite of the very loud voices that condemn anyone who expresses grave concerns about the direction and impact of Islam on the modern world, for anyone to deny that we need to be extremely cautious about the cultural, political, and spiritual influences of Islamic immigration is being willfully blind.
We are a mission-minded church, and by being in favor of both the temporary ban as well as strong vetting measures, does not mean that we are unkind, non-evangelistic, or unfaithful to the teachings and compassion of our Christian faith. On the contrary, we are genuinely concerned with national security, the ability to freely practice our faith, and the safety of Christians around the world including our missionaries. We also support effective evangelism to individual Muslims and to the Islamic world in general.
We are keenly aware of what is happening, and what has been happening, in the European and Middle Eastern world with respect to Muslim immigration and the refugee crisis. A basic premise of Islam is to expand and dominate. This is the driving force of ISIS and Jihad, as you know. In addition however to militant Jihad is the soft Jihad, as it has been called, wherein Islam is spread peacefully by population growth and territorial occupation and expansion. Europe is losing its western identity as the result of Islamic expansion. If we are concerned with evangelism, then we should be concerned as well with how Muslim expansion inhibits and destroys evangelism by its very nature. Christians are being persecuted and slaughtered in the Islamic world.
Those who have tried to promote increased immigration of Muslims into America have pointed out how unlikely it is that any of us will be killed by Islamic terrorists traveling in stealth as refugees. I would like to point out that the effectiveness of terrorism does not require a huge number of victims. What we are seeing is that a single terrorist, or small group, is effective according to the strategic location and circumstances of the target. We have learned from the events of 9-11 that a terror attack can include both number count and strategic location and impact, and that it can be accomplished by a small number of individuals with careful planning.
As Baptists, we are acutely aware of our history and of the sacrifices made for religious liberty. However, freedom of religion is not a tenet of Islam. The more Islam grows in America, the louder is the call for adoption of local Sharia law, and the greater is the actual threat to religious liberty in America itself. You have commented in the recent past about how Christians were betraying their beliefs by supporting Donald Trump. Would you not say that Americans are actually betraying themselves in the way they are ignoring and even embracing an Islamic threat to our beliefs and security in the name of political correctness and under the guise of compassion and religious liberty?
Our own government security experts have warned that it is impossible to properly vet the refugees from Syria and the mass of immigrants seeking Asylum. It is not an absence of compassion to use common sense. It is also not an act of Christian compassion to expose our nation to obvious danger when an adequate screening system is not possible or in place. Compassion must be guided by wisdom. Compassion that is not guarded by wisdom becomes gullibility.
This letter does not exhaust several concerns that we have about some of your comments and the direction of the ERLC. However, we believe that your public position is unrealistic and ignores many critical factors.
Thank you for giving your attention to this letter. It was not pleasant to write, and I am sure it is not pleasant to read. Please understand it is not written in animosity, but from great concern.
Yours in Christ,
Pastor Carter Corbrey, Th.M, Th.D.
Signed as well by the congregation of the First Southern Baptist Church: