Over the past year or so, the plight of refugees has filled our news cycles and made its way into our national consciousness. Just this week, we are hearing the stories of over 1000 refugees drowning in the Mediterranean trying to make their way to Europe. With conflicts in Syria, Africa, Asia, and Central and South America displacing people from their native lands, the world is facing the biggest refugee crisis since World War Two. How will the American church respond? The United States is set to take in 85,000 refugees this year – 100,000 next year. Refugees come here legally and are vetted by a 13 step process that happens overseas. But, aside from all of that, what will the church do when they get here? What will Southern Baptists do when they arrive? If they are coming anyway, how can we minister to them and help these victims of oppression, violence, religious persecution, and ethnic cleansing? As I asked in the post last week, instead of running and hiding in fear, the larger question that concerns Christians is, “What might God be doing in all of this?” The following resolution, submitted by former Southern Baptist pastor Jason Lee, director of World Relief in Spartanburg, SC (I assisted in the writing) calls for Southern Baptists to do the biblical work that we have done in the past and welcome and minister to refugees who are coming here already. This resolution does not call for refugees to come here and it does not tackle whether or not resettlement is the best approach. It takes into account the fact that they are already coming and it calls upon Southern Baptists to minister to them in every way when they arrive.
RESOLUTION ON REFUGEE MINISTRY AND RESETTLEMENT
WHEREAS, the world is facing the largest refugee crisis since World War II with over 60 million people displaced throughout the world and considered refugees and,
WHEREAS, war, violence, religious persecution, genocide, and other forms of oppression have contributed to massive people movements across the globe as millions flee for their lives and,
WHEREAS, Southern Baptists have a long record of welcoming, caring for, and ministering to refugees throughout our history and,
WHEREAS, this history of refugee ministry includes the sponsoring of almost 15,000 refugees from 1975-1985 resulting in the starting of 261 ethnic churches and a 1985 resolution commemorating this decade of ministry and,
WHEREAS, there are expected to be 85,000 refugees coming into the United States in 2016 and
WHEREAS, ministering to the sojourner is commanded in Scripture in places like Exodus 22:21-24; Exodus 23:9-12; Leviticus 19:33-34; Deuteronomy 10:17-22; Deuteronomy 24:17-22; and Deuteronomy 26:5-13 and Psalm 146:8-9 among dozens of other scriptures and,
WHEREAS, God works through the movements of people across the earth to reveal Himself to them and call them to Himself and care for them (Acts 17:24-28);
Be it therefore RESOLVED, that the messengers of the Southern Baptist Convention meeting in St. Louis, Missouri June 14-15, 2016, do call upon Southern Baptists to welcome the stranger and minister care, compassion, and the gospel to refugees who come to the United States,
And be it FURTHER RESOLVED, that we condemn rhetoric that would blame refugees for their own predicament or fail to recognize that they are victims fleeing violence and oppression around the world,
And be it FURTHER RESOLVED, that we encourage Southern Baptists to oppose demonization and fear mongering concerning refugees and their vulnerable condition,
And be it FURTHER RESOLVED, that we recognize that Diaspora Missions is a way that God calls us to engage in His mission to seek and save the lost and care for the weak and oppressed,
And be it FURTHER RESOLVED, that we would encourage the governing authorities to continue to exercise the utmost care in the selection and screening process of refugees for resettlement,
And be it FINALLY RESOLVED, that we affirm that refugees are people loved by God, made in His image, and that Christian love should be extended to them as special objects of God’s mercy in a world that has displaced them from their homelands.
Submitted by Jason A. Lee, member of Anderson Mill Road Baptist Church, Moore, SC. On May 27, 2016.
For an upcoming resource that might be of help to your church, check out Seeking Refuge: On the Shores of the Global Refugee Crisis by Stephen Bauman, Matthew Soerens, and Issam Smeir. This book is due out on July 5.
Russell Moore says, “This book is a powerful, persuasive case that the people of Christ should care about the vulnerable, including those fleeing from danger. Read this book and an open mind and a Christ-shaped conscience.”
Ed Stetzer says, “As the world confronts the greatest refugee crisis in recorded history, Stephan Bauman, Matthew Soerens, and Issam Smear argue persuasively that the church must be at the center of the solution. Biblically based, missional minded, and informed by lots and lots of facts, Seeking Refuge challenges the church to step up to respond to the refugees reaching our shores with compassion, wisdom, and courage. I’d encourage every Christ follower to read this book – and then to take up its challenge.
JD Payne, Church Multiplication Pastor at Church at Brook Hills says, “Seeking Refuge is the best work to date when it comes to understanding present realities, global challenges, and practical responses to refugees in light of our Kingdom citizenship. Filled with numbers stories and easy-to-understand explanations of technical matters, Bauman, Soerens, and Smear have provided the church with a call to action and excellent assistance along the way. If you are looking for a one-stop shop to be informed, challenged, and led, then you have found it here!