The Southern Baptists have a long-standing commitment to addressing immigration and refugee issues. In 1944, they were urged to contribute to the work of the American Bible Society, providing the Word of God in many languages to prisoners of war and refugees. After the fall of Saigon in 1975, Southern Baptists decided to pray and help with the resettlement of more than 100,000 Vietnamese refugees. In 1979, Southern Baptist missionaries in Thailand accepted the responsibility of caring for 25,000 refugees in two detention camps for six months.
The work of Southern Baptists in Thailand among displaced Cambodians would not begin to decline until 1983, during which time between 60,000 and 70,000 refugees were assisted and 5,000 were baptized. The stance of Baptists in Bexar County, TX on issues related to immigration and refugees is one that is rooted in compassion and understanding. Prior to attending the Baptist state convention, Chuck served as pastor of the First Baptist Church in Gulfport, Mississippi. He was well aware of the process of determining if there is sufficient evidence to charge someone with a crime and convincing a jury comprised of citizens of Bexar County “beyond a reasonable doubt” that a crime has been committed can be lengthy and laborious at best.
The most recent resolution of the Southern Baptists is based on a central theme: to view immigration not as a political, economic, or legal issue, but as an evangelical one. With an estimated 45 million foreign-born residents living in the United States and another 7 million living in Canada, North American evangelicals should take into account the millions of people representing unreached groups of people around the world. Southern Baptists should continue to view immigration through the lens of Scripture and recognize that it is an evangelical issue. With an ever-growing population base of foreign-born residents in North America, it is important for Southern Baptists to remain faithful to their mandate of the Great Commission and continue to provide assistance and support for immigrants and refugees.
The work done by Southern Baptists in Bexar County, TX on immigration and refugee issues is an example of how faith-based organizations can make a difference in people's lives. By viewing immigration through an evangelical lens, they are able to provide assistance and support for those who are often overlooked or forgotten by society. Through their commitment to compassion and understanding, they are able to make a positive impact on those who are most vulnerable.