Southern Baptists lead in welcoming and ministering to Syrian refugees in U.S.
In the mission of sharing the love of Christ, politics is out of the question.
This is the mindset of many evangelical Christians who are setting aside politics to be able to help and minister to the tens of thousands of Syrian refugees who have been resettled in the United States. The 10,000th Syrian refugee arrived in the U.S. last month, fulfilling a goal announced last year by President Barack Obama for the 2016 fiscal year.
The Southern Baptists are particularly active in this mission of showing Christian compassion to those who have fled conflict in the Middle East, saying their faith compels them to do so, the New York Times reports.
William Stocks, 23, is one of the Southern Baptist volunteers who are doing their share in making the refugees feel welcomed in the U.S.
Stock attends the Johnson Ferry Baptist Church in Marietta, Georgia—one of 1,055 churches that have worked with World Relief, an evangelical resettlement organisation, to help refugees and immigrants.
"My job is to serve these people," Stock said, "because they need to be served."
Although he has no teaching experience, he is working to helping the Syrian refugees learn English to enable them to adapt to life in the U.S.
"These are the most hospitable and loving people you'll ever meet, which is why it's frustrating to see the different things on the news that all these people are terrorists," Stocks said. "They don't know these people personally."
Southern Baptist leader Russell Moore is leading his church in providing aid to the refugees, dismissing calls from conservative politicians and even some Christian leaders for a temporary ban on Muslim refugees because of the threat of terrorism.
"The task of the church is a different one," said Moore, the president of the Southern Baptist Convention's Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission. "The church is called to see the image of God in all people and to minister Christ's presence to all people. That's what churches are doing," he said.
The Rev. Bryant Wright, the senior pastor of Johnson Ferry, conceded that there could be dangers in admitting thousands of Syrians to the United States. "I know there's risk," he said. "I'm not being naïve."
But he said their faith should compel Christians to help these people since Jesus Christ himself commanded his disciples, in the Book of Matthew, to "make disciples of all nations."
Aside from that, he said there are more practical reasons to help. "Would it be better for these people to see Americans reaching out with love, and showing them all of the blessings Americans can have? Or do we turn our backs on them, and make them more sympathetic to Islamic terrorism?" he asked.