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Questionable Enterprises?

It is now three weeks since past and present leaders of Baptist World Aid asked the chair of the Southern Baptist Convention’s committee on its relationship to the Baptist World Alliance to substantiate its accusation that the BWA has funded “questionable enterprises through Baptist World Aid.”

On Dec. 23, four days after the release of the SBC report, <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags” />BWAid leaders wrote to Morris Chapman asking for details of these “questionable enterprises.” Receiving no reply, a further message was sent Jan. 5 expressing the need for early clarification. Chapman replied: “There is no need to worry about an answer. Should the committee desire to expand on their original statement, I will send it to you ….”<?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = “urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office” />
 
In an immediate reply, the BWAid leaders said that they were “amazed that such a powerful committee of Southern Baptist leaders would make unsubstantiated accusations against a Christian ministry, without the immediate ability to provide evidence of such ‘questionable enterprises.’ Surely all committee members would have been made aware of the details of such a serious accusation before affirming or signing your report!”
 
Pointing out that “time is of the essence here,” the BWAid leaders asked that “if you cannot immediately provide the evidence to back this allegation, please have the graciousness to retract it publicly right away, before any more harm is done to those involved in Christian ministry to ‘the least of these’ around the world, and the people they are assisting in His name.”
 
Chapman in his reply of Jan. 6 said: “I didn’t say the statements were unsubstantiated. Had the committee planned to retract what we said, we would have had no reason to say it.”
 
One week later, the BWAid leaders are still waiting and wondering what these “questionable enterprises” are.
 
As BWAid director, and looking back over 13 ½ years of service with the BWA, I wonder, was it questionable to:
 
–Feed and provide shelter 10 years ago for the hundreds of thousand Rwandan refugees who fled the genocide?
 
–Provide pastors in Eastern Europe with Bibles, commentaries and other Christian literature?
 
–Ship Bibles and other materials to Cuba?
 
–Care for those who are HIV positive, AIDS orphan children and those caring for them?
 
–Ship food to Moscow in the frozen winters as the Cold War began to thaw?
 
–Erect numerous schools, clinics and other buildings for our Baptist conventions and unions around the world?
 
–Work with indigenous national leadership, entrusting, empowering and enabling them in their humanitarian ministries?
 
–Stand in the shoes of the most downtrodden at times of desperate need?
 
–Encourage collaborative responses, such as in Baptist Relief Europe, so that small and large groups of Baptists could be involved?
 
–Work with local Baptists to care for those suffering from nearly a decade of war in the Balkans?
 
–Support the Burmese refugees in the forest camps along the border with Thailand?
 
–Pioneer agricultural projects so that villagers could learn to feed themselves?   
 
–Assist in the rescue and caring for those impacted by natural disasters such as earthquake and floods?
 
If these are questionable enterprises, then I am glad that Baptist World Aid has been a part of them.
 
You can show your support for Baptist World Aid by sending donations to: Baptist World Aid, 405 North Washington Street, Falls Church, VA 22045. Further information on BWAid projects can be found at www.bwanet.org and BWAid@Bwanet.org.
 
Paul Montacute is director of Baptist World Aid.

See related news release on the BWA Web site.