Baptist World Alliance helps us stay together
March 13 2003 by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-Treasurer

Baptist World Alliance helps us stay together | Friday, March 14, 2003

Friday, March 14, 2003

Baptist World Alliance helps us stay together

By Jim Royston BSC Executive Director-Treasurer

Baptist organizations - from district associations to international alliances - can be fragile structures. At last count, there were more than 30 separate national Baptist conventions in America. The first national Baptist convention in America - The General Convention of the Baptist Denomination in the United States of America for Foreign Missions - split over the issue of slavery, almost 20 years before the outbreak of the Civil War. In 1844, James Reeves of Georgia, a slave owner, sought appointment as a Baptist home missionary to native Americans in his home state. The Convention's Home Mission Society, after meeting for 15 hours, voted seven to five to turn down the request. The result of that vote was the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC).

We are now about to witness another major change by Southern Baptists with the SBC Executive Committee's recommendation to reduce support to the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), a loosely connected group of more than 206 Baptist bodies from around the world. The SBC, as much as any Baptist group in the world, gave birth to the BWA.

One reason given for the SBC Executive Committee's action is that they want to begin their own version of an international organization composed exclusively of "like-minded Christians." The major reason for reduced funding, however, is the possibility of the BWA accepting the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) within its membership.

It has been sad, in my opinion, to see this SBC/CBF "family squabble" played out before a world so much in need of missions and evangelism. Both groups are reaching people with the gospel and providing ministry through a variety of mission endeavors. Why are we afraid of each other? Could it be that we don't love our brothers as Christ loved us? (1 John 4:20). Neither group is without its faults. Neither group is the "final answer" nor the "major enemy." Determining which one is better depends entirely on who you ask. Both groups - the SBC and CBF - would enhance the important work of the BWA.

More troubling than the SBC's reducing support of the BWA is a loss of our love for "the people of Jesus." Matthew 5:23-24 tells us that we ought to leave our gifts and search out our brothers and be reconciled with one another - or else our gifts may be unacceptable.

The Baptist State Convention of North Carolina has had a long and great relationship with the Baptist World Alliance. The BWA asked us to become involved in Poland, which led to our partnership with Polish Baptists. We worked with the BWA in the "Bibles for Russia" project. It was the BWA - not the SBC - that opened doors for our mission projects and ministries in Bosnia, Serbia, Croatia, Kosovo and Mozambique. Because of the BWA, we have been able to enter mission partnerships in countries where no SBC or CBF missionaries are currently stationed.

Several N.C. Baptists, including George W. Truett, have served as president of the BWA. Billy Graham has stated that he knows "... of few organizations across the world which minister as effectively as the Baptist World Alliance." Lewis Drummond, former president of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, stated that the wonderful spirit the Baptist World Alliance fosters ... "is the very rationale of our existence."

I hope the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina will never abandon the Baptist World Alliance. I also hope other mission-minded conventions, associations and churches everywhere will join me in this support.

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3/13/2003 11:00:00 PM by Jim Royston , BSC Executive Director-Treasurer | with 0 comments
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