CHICAGO (BP) — Three Southern Baptists are among an interdenominational, ad-hoc group of evangelicals who have drafted and signed a joint declaration on caring for refugees in the midst of a humanitarian crisis affecting nearly 60 million displaced persons worldwide.
A group of more than 100 denominational and ministry leaders and representatives discussed the statement Dec. 17 at the Great Commandment, Great Commission Summit (GC2) at the Billy Graham Center for Evangelism (BGCE) at Wheaton College in Chicago.
Southern Baptists Ed Stetzer, executive director of LifeWay Research and a BGCE senior fellow; Frank S. Page, president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s (SBC) Executive Committee; and Micah Fries, vice president of LifeWay Research, are among a 12-member guiding coalition who drafted the statement, though their participation is not intended to signal the support of the entire SBC.
“Moments like these are when Christians cannot remain silent and still,” the statement reads. “In light of this crisis, we commit ourselves and our churches to actively care for and minister to global refugees with mercy and compassion, both here and abroad, based on God’s compelling concern for all people in need and especially refugees.”
The “Christian Declaration on Caring for Refugees: An Evangelical Response” affirms six key beliefs:
- Refugees possess the image of God and, as such, are infinitely valuable to God and to us.
- We are commanded to love our neighbor, and it is our privilege to love refugees.
- As Christians, we must care sacrificially for the refugee, the foreigner, and the stranger.
- We will motivate and prepare our churches and movements to care for refugees.
- We will not be motivated by fear but by love for God and others.
- Christians are called to grace-filled and humble speech about this issue.
The statement is offered as a Christian humanitarian rather than political response to the refugee crisis, and leaves security and immigration issues to the government, statement drafters said.
“We’re not taking a political stand. Actually the statement specifically says that it’s the role of government to provide security and protect the nation. Other people will debate those issues,” Stetzer said during a Dec. 17 teleconference announcing the statement. “Some of the [public] rhetoric in general has often been demeaning and dehumanizing, and we think that refugees need to be spoken of in ways that are appropriate for people created in the image of God.”
The statement is intended to mobilize churches in meaningful ways to address the needs of refugees, organizers said.
Wheaton College will host a Jan. 20 follow-up, live-streamed summit, still being organized, to help equip and mobilize churches to be involved in the refugee crisis in the U.S. and globally.
The full statement is online at www.gc2summit.com.
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