VALLEY FORGE, PA (9/17/15)—The Board of Directors of American Baptist International Ministries (IM) unanimously adopted a resolution calling upon American Baptists to respond to the human disaster created by the ongoing civil war in Syria.
The International Ministries Resolution on Syrian Refugees comes in response to this growing crisis. As the Syrian civil war enters its fifth year, the millions of internally displaced persons (IDPs) within Syria are streaming into neighboring nations and far beyond. Over the last four years, Turkey, Lebanon, Jordan and even Iraq have together received over 3 million refugees. In recent weeks, the stream of refugees seeking shelter further to the north and west—and, according to the United Nations, in some 90 countries around the world—has become a torrent.
Christians can look to a biblical precedent for how to respond to IDPs and refugees. As the resolution points out:
Scripture asserts that all ethnic groups share commonality and community. We are “made of one blood” and “made to dwell on the face of the earth together.” (Acts 17:26) Jesus taught his followers to “do to others as you would have them do to you.” (Luke 6:31) He identified with the needy, saying that as we treat the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick or the imprisoned, so we are treating him. (Matthew 25:31-46)
The resolution goes on to note that Responding to the Call, the plan that has emerged from the eighteen month spiritual discernment process, includes a special focus on ministries to immigrants and refugees.
In the face of this dramatically escalating need, the resolution urges American Baptists to build upon and extend what their giving has accomplished so far. Their gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing have enabled IM to support partners working with those who have been thrown into suffering by this crisis, both within Syria and across the border in Lebanon. The resolution calls upon American Baptists to go further in response to the crisis through actions that include prayer, giving to relief efforts, citizen advocacy and preparing to receive and resettle Syrians in their own communities.
The full text of the resolution is available online here.
American Baptist International Ministries celebrated 200 years of ministry in 2014. American Baptist International Ministries (IM) was organized in 1814 as the first Baptist international mission agency in America. It began its pioneer mission work in Burma, (now called Myanmar) and today serves God through more than 1,800 short- and long-term global servants in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. Its central mission is to help people come to faith in Jesus, grow in their relationships with God and change their worlds through the power of the Spirit. It works with respected partners in over 70 countries in ministries that meet human need.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.