WASHINGTON (BP)–Religious leaders “must condemn all violence and all terrorist activities,” said Baptist World Alliance General Secretary Denton Lotz in a Sept. 12 statement issued during a visit to Jakarta, Indonesia.
Baptist groups in numerous countries, meanwhile, were forwarding expressions of sympathy and support to Baptists in North America to the BWA’s new headquarters in Falls Church, Va., in suburban Washington, where dedication ceremonies are slated Sept. 22. The BWA represents more than 43 million Baptists around the world.
“As Baptists we are called upon to be peacemakers,” Lotz said, and “all forms of religious, political and social fanaticism must be condemned in the name of God.”
Lotz said that the tragic events of Sept. 11 in New York City and Washington have shown that “it is necessary on a world level to have conversations with men and women of all religious traditions to discuss those great values we hold in common and prevent further bloodshed.”
BWA President Billy Kim, a pastor in South Korea, in a Sept. 13 statement, declared, “What a tragic event has occurred to humanity!”
Kim noted, “As Baptists around the world, our hearts go out to the victims of this malicious attack. We will certainly pray that God may grant the needed wisdom for the difficult decisions which need to be made. … We will continue to uphold the victims and their families in prayer. We ask God’s special blessing, peace and comfort for each one.”
Citing an offer by Hungarian Baptist Aid to send special search and rescue teams to assist in the aftermath of the attacks on New York City and Washington, Kim said, “May we always be ready and willing to assist wherever and whenever needed to alleviate a suffering world.”
Lotz urged in his statement, “Let us become a praying people and a working people for the peace of Christ, which the world does not understand, but for which and to which we are called.”
Lotz said he was in Jakarta for meetings encompassing Indonesian government and religious leaders, including Baptists, “to discuss the need to defend and maintain religious freedom for all, and to end sectarian strife and violence that has resulted in the tragic loss of life and destruction of churches and mosques” in various Indonesian regions.
“Just yesterday we met with the moderate Muslim political party leaders,” Lotz continued. “All of us agreed, Muslims and Christians, that we must work for peace and harmony within our nations and never turn to violence or the sword.
“As Baptists, who have long suffered as a religious minority from religious persecution, we call upon our people to pray and work for peace,” Lotz said. “We must never raise the sword. Our Lord commanded Peter and all of us to put back our swords and to take up our cross. Indeed, we must never preach our own national culture, but we must preach Christ and his cross: ‘For if I am lifted up I will draw all humanity to myself.'”
Among Baptist groups sending statements of concern in care of the Baptist World Alliance in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11:
— Canadian Baptist Ministries, signed by General Secretary Gary Nelson: “As Canadian Baptists and your neighbors to the north, we want to express our solidarity with you today. We are aware that while this attack was on America it is an assault at much different levels that are global in their ramifications. It is in times like this that our global citizenship and more importantly our citizenship in Jesus Christ touches us most deeply.”
— Nagaland Baptist Church Council, signed by Zhabu Terhuja: “We are appalled at the destruction and we stand by our fellow human beings in America. … The Nagas ought to acknowledge their indebtedness to the people of the United States for the message of hope and salvation in Jesus Christ. In no way can we help them in return. But at this moment of grief and in this confounded situation, the Nagaland Baptist Church Council calls the churches in Nagaland to pray on Sunday, Sept. 16, for this great nation.”
— Baptist Union of Slovakia: “In this moment of national tragedy, we want to assure you that our prayers are with you and your families. We cannot believe all the shattering news coming from your beautiful home country. It is impossible to grasp that [the] human mind can conceive such a plan to kill thousands of innocent people, and evoke a global fear in all of us around the planet. We are deeply grateful for all the help coming from our American brothers and sisters deeply rooted in your unconditional Christian love. All throughout this week in all our congregations we will be gathering in special prayer meetings to call unto the Lord to hold his protecting hand over your nation.”
— Baptist Union of Croatia, signed by Branko Lovrec, who also is a BWA vice president: “We all here in Croatia have been shocked seeing the terrible news of the attack on America. We pray … for all the victims who have suffered from the attack, and also for your government leaders to find proper solution of finding the real enemy.”
— The Union of Evangelical Christian-Baptist in former Yugoslavia: “When we heard the breaking news about the attack on America today, we stayed without a word. We are shocked by severe and evil terrorist action against America and American people. In this very dramatic day for America we want to tell you that we sympathize with you and your people and we will continue to pray for you in these hard days you are passing through. We sympathize especially with families of killed people and we pray for them to have God’s power to overcome loss of their beloved ones. What we can do in this moment from this side is to pray for you and for your government to overcome this situation by decisive and wise steps. We are with you in your suffering!”
— Baptist Union of Norway, signed by Peder A. Eidberg: “We have followed the situation in USA with the terrorist attacks … and are choked what is happening. How can people do such damage and kill thousands of innocent people? We have been praying for the relatives of the dead people, and for all the injured persons. We pray for the people who try to help and find the wounded people in the ruins — that they might find people alive. We send you all our condolences and sympathy and hope that the people responsible for this terrorist attack may be caught and imprisoned.”
— Baptist Evangelical Churches Union of Italy: “[We] wish to express all our concern, Christian solidarity and fraternal love to all of you in these terrible days of pain and sorrow caused by the criminal terroristic attack to the people and churches in your country. This is a horrible blasphemy. We want to assure you that our churches will be praying in these difficult times for the families of the victims and for the healing of the injured. We will also be praying that God may give wisdom to the people in power so that violence and revenge will not escalate to other violent acts and massacres. Finally we pray that God call other people to the service of peace and reconciliation in this world of enmity and hatred.”
— European Baptist Mission, Germany: “We are all very, very shocked and we stand at the side of our American friends and partners. The ‘attack on America’ is a brutal and criminal act of totally mislead people. As Christians we see behind this attack the power of evil, but we very clearly know that the power of our almighty God, his power of love in Jesus Christ, is much stronger and will have the victory at the end.”
— Euro-Asiatic Federation Churches Baptist Union, Russia: “We shocked by this situation that happened in America! Thousands of guiltless people became victims of this terrible terrorist’s raid. In this terrible time we will be praying together that God will console relatives of dead people and gave you a power to carry this terrible tragedy and work on his field for your people.”
— Bengal Baptist Union, signed by Ajoy Saha: “We the Baptists here in West Bengal are shocked by the news of the terrorist attack in New York and Washington which claimed so many innocent lives of people without any rhyme or reasons. We firmly believe that the blessing of God has been with you and saved you all Baptists in USA and we assure our prayers for all living in USA.”
— Baptist Association of South Africa: “We were shocked to see on television the events in the USA. Be assured of our prayers for you and your country.”
Additional messages from Baptist groups around the world can be read at the BWA website, www.bwanet.org.