RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Southern Baptist missionaries living in tense areas of Africa and Asia were responding to U.S. State Department warnings Aug. 20 to stay off the streets and out of sight.
The warnings came as anti-American sentiment rose in response to U.S. cruise missile strikes against suspected terrorist operations in Sudan and Afghanistan. Extremist Muslims were warning of retaliatory attacks against Americans.
The International Mission Board, which maintains some 4,400 Southern Baptist personnel in 126 countries worldwide, issued a worldwide alert to each of its 14 regional offices Aug. 21.
“This is a very dangerous and crucial time for all of our people around the world,” said Sam James, the board’s vice president for creative leadership. “What we want is for all our missionaries to know that for the foreseeable future no American anywhere in the world is safe.
“There’s no country we can say now is beyond the reach of terrorism. Still, nowhere are we going to say let’s shut down the work,” he added.
Personnel in some areas where the strikes had intensified anti-American sentiment gathered in emergency meetings Aug. 21 to consider future ministry options and discuss temporarily leaving their posts, said Kenn Shirley, the board’s Richmond, Va.,-based associate regional leader for Central and Southern Asia.
“They are evaluating the situation to see where the Lord is leading and to decide what to do as a group, as well as individuals,” he said.
IMB officials declined to comment on where these personnel were located specifically.
President Bill Clinton said he ordered the missile strikes to prevent terrorism promised as a follow-up to the Aug. 7 bombings of U.S. embassies in Nairobi, Kenya, and Dar es Salaam, Tanzania. U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright called the attacks acts of self-defense. “I don’t think we had a choice,” she said. “These people hit us.”
The missiles, launched from U.S. ships in the Arabian Sea and the Red Sea, demolished an alleged terrorist training camp in Afghanistan and a manufacturing plant in Sudan that U.S. officials said produced an ingredients for nerve gas.
“What I think is very important for the American people to understand is that there may, in fact, be retaliatory actions,” Albright said. “We are very concerned about that.”
The independent agency Crisis Consulting International issued an advisory Aug. 21 warning missionaries of possible “rage- and fervor-inspired retaliatory attacks on local targets of convenience,” such as U.S. citizens on streets. But it also cautioned mission agencies to take the embassy bombings as proof of a threat to “soft targets” far away from bases of terrorist activity.
” … Further retaliatory acts could occur literally anywhere in the world,” the CCI said. “The network of organizations and fanatics most likely to engage in further acts can be found quite literally in almost every part of the world.”
In an electronic advisory to regional offices, Bill Cashion, the IMB’s consultant for crisis management, asked personnel to take this danger “very seriously.” He encouraged them to review crisis-management plans, which include contingencies related to evacuation, hostage-taking and home security.
Cashion asked Southern Baptists to pray that missionaries would know how to be alert to possible dangerous situations and not put themselves into unnecessary risk. But at the same time, he asked for prayer that they would possess a calmness of spirit and boldness to seize ministry opportunities to live and speak a witness for Jesus Christ.
Angered Muslim leaders ready to cite
Clinton’s moral lapses, experts say
By Ken Walker
WAKE FOREST, N.C. (BP)–Muslims angered by the bombings of Afghanistan and Sudan are pointing to President Bill Clinton’s moral failings as an example of Christianity’s shortcomings, according to three Southern Baptist experts on Islamic affairs.
However, the experts pointed out, many in the Mideast also practice polygamy and indulge in homosexuality and pornography without openly acknowledging it.
George Braswell, professor of missions and world religions at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, Wake Forest, N.C., said Islamic peoples have seen similar moral failures among their leaders. While not condoning it, they are prevented from speaking out by pressure and political force, said Braswell, author of “Islam: Its Prophet, Peoples, Politics & Power,” released in 1996 by Broadman & Holman Publishers.
“Muslim leaders are saying it was a cover-up of (Clinton’s) own moral problems,” Braswell said of the Aug. 20 attacks, which occurred three days after Clinton acknowledged an “inappropriate” relationship with White House intern Monica Lewinsky.
Braswell said Iran, Pakistan and other militant countries stand ready to exploit any perceived American weakness. “They would say, ‘See how corrupt Christianity is?’ They see (on television) Clinton carrying a Bible out of church and say, ‘If this is Christianity, then the world needs to turn to Islam. There must be a flaw in Christianity if they would allow such a thing,'” Braswell said.
Although President Clinton was telling the world Aug. 20 that the U.S. attacks “were not aimed against Islam, the faith of hundreds of millions of good, peace-loving people all around the world,” anti-American demonstrations in, Khartoum, the Sudan’s capital included the mockery of prominently displayed posters of Clinton and Lewinsky, while one banner urged, “No War for Monica.”
“They’re attacking Christianity through the president because he said he’s a Christian,” noted Samuel Shahid, director of the Islamic Studies Center at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, Fort Worth, Texas, and a native of Palestine who formerly taught at the Arab Baptist Theological Seminary in Lebanon. “They’re attacking him as a person and, through him, our faith.”
Ironically, Muslims may put a positive slant on the president’s troubles because it shows the validity of their belief in multiple wives, observed Southern Baptist evangelist Anis Shorrosh. And at the same time, Islamics manipulate the president’s immorality in the same way they used the highly publicized falls of televangelists Jim Bakker and Jimmy Swaggart, said Shorrosh, also a native of Palestine and author of the book, “Islam Revealed,” now headed into its sixth printing with Thomas Nelson Publishers.
“The fact is, their hypocrisy is obvious,” Shorrosh said. “They have prostitution by license. Not only can you elect to have four wives, you can have as many concubines as you can afford.
“If you go on a trip and cannot take your wives with you, you can get written permission from your priest … to marry a woman for any period of time, then leave her and come back home.”
In addition, Shorrosh — who will debate Muslim advocates this October in California — said the Islamic world has widespread problems with homosexuality.
They are so strict about relations with women many men have sex with men but cover it up, he claimed. Similar hypocrisy prevails in their attitudes toward Hollywood, he said. While denouncing American films, the most popular Mideast TV station is a Turkish outlet showing late-night pornographic movies, he said.
“I was surprised to learn about it last year because they claim to be so religious and godly,” he said.
Braswell, a missionary in Iran when Jimmy Carter was president, said he observed “weekend flings” among Muslims there. But those who don’t follow the practice would argue it is not part of the Koranic code and represents a corruption of the Islamic faith, he said.
Besides the morality debate, Braswell said the bombing will have adverse effects on America.
Done indiscriminately, without warning and likely killing innocent people, the incident could haunt the United States for years to come, Braswell said. He believes it may damage attempts by missionaries to take the gospel to Muslims.
“They think America is a misguided superpower that lashes out at people, including Muslims,” he said.
“This raises all kinds of questions for Southern Baptist missionaries in Muslim nations, where they’re trying to live in peace and present Jesus as a peacemaker.”
Indeed, the peaceful stance of most Muslims was mentioned in a press release issued by the Muslim Public Affairs Council the day after the bombings.
“When the terrorists claim to carry their criminal action in the name of Islam, American Muslims are outraged by the betrayal of the Islamic values of peace, justice and the sanctity of human life,” said the Washington, D.C.,-based organization. “And, by the harm that these crimes cause to the true understanding of Islam and to Muslims everywhere.”
The fight against terrorism needs to be conducted in accordance with international law, the council said, arguing that the United States has legitimized terrorists’ disdain for civilized rules of behavior.
Shorrosh disagreed, saying the bombings will likely end terrorist attacks just as President Reagan’s bombing of Libya silenced ruler Moammar Gadhafy.
Moderate Muslim leaders support America’s actions because they feel equally threatened by fundamentalists, Shorrosh said. These fanatics divide the world into two camps, he said, the houses of war and peace.
Such Muslims see themselves as the peaceful faction, which gives them the right to attack anyone who opposes them, at any time, Shorrosh said.
“The greatest proof of the wickedness of Islam is Afghanistan and Somalia — no safety, peace or respect for women or children; devastation, division and destruction,” he said. “Can any Muslim provide evidence that Islam would have grown without the sword back in the seventh century?”
While taking a less-strident stance, Braswell said fundamentalist Muslims’ policy of “jihad,” or holy war, has serious, worldwide implications for the 21st century.
Trends in places like Europe and America, where Muslims now outnumber Jews, show Islamic believers want to establish themselves as the dominant religion and political class, Braswell said.
“There are moderate voices among Muslims but also many that believe it’s Islam against the world,” he said. “They want to establish the righteousness of Allah.”
Land calls for Clinton’s resignation,
for Gore to tap Jimmy Carter as VP
By Dwayne Hastings
AUSTIN, Texas (BP)–Bill Clinton should resign the presidency for the good of the nation, according to Richard Land.
And upon ascending to the presidency, Al Gore should nominate former President Jimmy Carter as his vice president.
“If the president will do what is best for the country, he will truly apologize to the American people and then resign,” Land said, saying the president has “hopelessly compromised” his moral authority with the American people. Land said Carter’s high ethical standards make him the perfect pick for vice president.
Land, president of the Southern Baptist Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said the scenario came to him Aug. 22 as he traveled between Dallas and Austin, Texas, while praying for the country.
“If the president had apologized and asked for forgiveness Monday night (during his Aug. 17 address to the nation), he might have been able to rebuild some semblance of moral authority, but now it is too late,” Land said.
The very idea that anybody would even consider that the president would order military action for political advantage, recalling the plot of the movie, “Wag the Dog,” convinced Land there is going to be a “moral asterisk” next to Clinton’s name for the rest of his presidency and perhaps for the rest of his life.
“For an American president to do his job, he has to have moral authority,” Land said, noting, “It is times like this crisis (the bombing of suspected terrorist sites in Afghanistan and the Sudan) that point that out more than anything else.”
Yet Land said Clinton’s resignation might not be the end of the troubles for the current administration, citing the looming possibility of another independent counsel being named by U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno to investigate alleged campaign finance irregularities which may reach to the office of Vice President Gore.
Given the possibility that Gore might be the focus of this new investigation and could himself be removed from office, the person nominated to be vice president has to be a Democrat, Land said.
“It is constitutionally important that there not even be the whiff of any idea of a coup d’etat or an attempt to thwart the will of the people by turning over the presidency to a Republican when the people elected a Democrat in 1996.”
Land said former President Jimmy Carter would be the ideal nominee for vice president.
“I can think of no Democrat who would more instantaneously restore moral character and trust in the American government than Jimmy Carter,” Land said. “Here is a man who has already been elected by the American people as president; here is a man who is a Democrat; here is a man who is more known for his moral rectitude and trustworthiness than anything else.”
The current political climate and national dialogue underscores the unique character of the American presidency as an institution, Land continued. “It is important that when he orders people to their deaths that the American people can trust him to tell the truth.”
Clinton’s “last semblance of moral authority vanished Monday night,” Land insisted, saying the president acknowledged his responsibility for “a tawdry, shameful, relationship with a government employee in the environs of the oval office.”
Land said, as late as Monday evening, the American people wanted to forgive the president. “They were willing to forgive him. He didn’t ask them to forgive him. That is an opportunity now lost.”
Since Clinton is “hopelessly, morally compromised,” Land said the scenario he is suggesting would restore moral authority to the office of the president, a factor he said is of critical importance in a dangerous world.
“Bill Clinton looked the American people in the eye and lied to them for seven months, then refused to apologize. And there is probably worse news to come,” he said. “We need to spare the American people any more of this tragedy.”
Otherwise, Land said, there will be continuing concerns about the basis of any decisions the president makes — both internationally and domestically.
“Yet we need to avoid any appearance of partisanship, any appearance of seeking to thwart the will of the people in suggesting a Republican might ascend to the presidency if Al Gore is found culpable in any forthcoming campaign finance investigation,” Land said, stressing his suggestions are not politically motivated. The 25th amendment to the U.S. Constitution provides for the process of filling the office of president or vice president in case of their removal from office or death or resignation. If Gore were removed as president and no vice president had been named, the speaker of the House, Newt Gingrich, would ascend to the presidency, Land explained.
Land, who shares a denominational affiliation as Southern Baptist with Carter but who differs with the former president on many issues, including the sanctity of human life, said Carter is nonetheless the right man for the job.”
“Although I am pro-life and former President Carter is not, I believe it is important that if the American people elected a Democrat in 1996 that a Democrat stay in the White House until the American people have a chance to decide that question for themselves in the year 2000,” Land said.
He said in the eventuality of Carter’s ascension to the presidency, the former U.S. president should pledge not to run for the office himself in the year 2000.
“Whether the president of the United States is pro-life or pro-choice is a decision for the American electorate to make,” Land said. “The American electorate elected a pro-choice Democrat in 1996. That must be overturned by the electoral process not by a judicial one for it to be legitimate.”
For the good of the nation, for the good of the American people and for the good of the office of the American presidency, Clinton needs to resign, Land reiterated. “It’s time to stop the grievous damage to the office of the president.”
Land also suggested that if President Clinton truly apologized before he resigned that then-President Gore should immediately issue a presidential pardon to former President Clinton in order for the country to put this tragic episode behind it.
Everley Hayes, colleague
of Bill Wallace, dead at 81
By Mark Kelly
SALISBURY, Md. (BP)–Ruth Everley Hayes, an emeritus Southern Baptist missionary nurse who worked alongside martyred missionary doctor Bill Wallace in China, died Aug. 15. She was 81.
Hayes, who retired in 1983, began 35 years of missionary service with the Southern Baptist International Mission Board as director of nursing and dean of the nursing school at Stout Memorial Hospital in Wuchow, China.
Two years into her service there, however, Wallace was accused of espionage and imprisoned, and Hayes was placed under house arrest. Two months later, when authorities claimed Wallace hanged himself in his cell, Hayes was required to identify the body. Five months later, she was released and allowed to return to the United States.
In 1953, Hayes transferred to Indonesia, where she worked with missionary doctor Kathleen Jones and another nurse, Ruth Ford, to open the first Baptist clinic in the country. The clinic later developed into the well-known Kediri Baptist Hospital. She was in Kediri in 1965 when communist activists mounted a campaign that culminated in an attempted coup.
In 1971, she moved to Bukittinggi to help open Emmanuel Baptist Hospital.There, she and other medical missionaries were denied permission to practice, and their clinic had to be closed for five years.
But the resourceful Hayes found other ways to witness in Bukittinggi. She used her free time to develop relationships with Indonesian people she would not have met otherwise. She taught English to women, most of whom were the wives of government officials — one of whom was instrumental in helping open the hospital there in 1975. She also started growing orchids, a hobby that opened doors for ministry and witness as well.
Hayes also had the privilege of seeing revival sweep through Indonesia after the bloody communist insurrection in Indonesia. More than 2 million people were baptized in churches of all denominations, and Baptists quadrupled in number. Many congregations began from relationships developed through medical ministry in the hospital and in surrounding villages.
Hayes was noted for her tireless work. At Kediri, she was the only missionary nurse in a 100-bed hospital and carried the responsibility of being hospital treasurer as well. She also was very active in Sunday school, discipleship training and choir ministries. She served as the photographer for Baptist work in Indonesia and was instrumental in preparing an Indonesian Baptist hymnal.
“Everley was known to those of us who served with her in Indonesia, not as a former colleague of Bill Wallace, but as a friend and encourager,” said IMB President Jerry Rankin. “She was there to support and encourage us as new missionaries when we arrived in the country. Nursing was simply her platform for sharing Christ and working with new and growing churches. She modeled a sacrificial life of servanthood in relationships and ministry throughout her years of missionary service.”
“Everley was a tribute to her calling as a missionary nurse,” added Avery Willis, the board’s senior vice president for overseas services. “She lived the life of a servant and I never heard her call attention to herself, her role in serving with Bill Wallace in China or her role during the many crises in Indonesia. We praise God for the wonderful example of Christ she lived out on the front lines of missions.”
Born in Jacksonville, Ill., Hayes grew up in Memphis, Mo. She graduated from the Missouri Baptist Hospital School of Nursing in St. Louis and from William Jewell College in Liberty, Mo. She also attended Southwest Baptist University in Bolivar, Mo., and Woman’s Missionary Union Training School (later merged with Southern Baptist Theological Seminary) in Louisville, Ky. She also studied operating room technique at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, Md.
Prior to missionary appointment, Hayes worked in medical programs in St. Louis and Louisville and served with the U.S. Army Nurse Corps during the occupation of Paris immediately after World War II.
She is survived by one sister, Eunice Ruark of Salisbury, Md.