RALEIGH, N.C. (BP)–“Annie” was a troubled 10-year-old who had suffered abuse and abandonment. The state of North Carolina became her mom and dad and she lived in several foster homes. Her last foster mother led the love-starved girl to the Lord and asked me several months ago while pastoring in eastern North Carolina if I would disciple her in preparation for baptism and church membership. I joyfully baptized Annie, and the entire church family fell in love with little Annie and Annie fell in love with us.
Several weeks later, I received a frantic call from Annie’s foster mom when Social Services was about to place Annie in a permanent adoption into a Mormon family. Her soon-to-be-dad was the president of the local ward.
Immediately, I contacted the director of Social Services to find out if anything could be done to stop the placement. He said the state usually tried to place children in homes with the same religious background, but many times they had to settle for families with a similar background. Annie’s case worker was an active Methodist and the director of Social Services an active Baptist, and both of them erroneously believed the difference between a Baptist and a Mormon was analogous to the differences between a Baptist and a Methodist.
I quickly corrected their thinking by pointing out just a few of the key differences and pleaded with them to stop the placement. I even offered to literally guarantee another suitable family for adoption if he would stop this one.
The director was mortified by their error but was unwilling to rescind the placement for legal reasons. The process had just gone too far. He said there were only two things that could stop the placement: The adopting parents could withdraw their offer or Annie could decline perhaps her last chance to have a real mom and dad. Neither event seemed likely.
After consulting with Annie’s foster parents and with the knowledge of the director of Social Services, I asked Annie to come to my office with her foster mother. I spent about an hour with her explaining the main differences between Baptist beliefs and Mormon beliefs. I showed her that Baptists and Mormons have a different view of God, a different view of Jesus, a different view of Scripture and a different way of salvation. I told her that I would love her and help her even if she joined a Mormon family.
I am relieved to report that Annie chose the genuine God, the genuine Jesus, the genuine Scriptures and the genuine plan of salvation over a permanent mom and dad.
I am frightened, however, that this near tragedy almost happened because of a gross misunderstanding of Mormon beliefs and practices.
However, the Lord blessed little Annie a few months later when he gave her permanent parents who were followers of the genuine Jesus. Praise the Lord!
Are interfaith issues really that important? Should interfaith education be a deliberate part of every child, youth and adult training program in every church in North America? Ask Annie or the state adoption agency workers. Reflect for a moment on what might have been. Worse, reflect for a moment on what has already been: massive devastation wrought by deception. Annie chose the truth over a real mother’s touch. The least we can do is pledge to give others the chance to choose truth.
Carrigan is an interfaith witness evangelism national missionary based in Raleigh, N.C., with the North American Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention.