EDITORS’ NOTE: The following statement about the start of war with Iraq was issued by Southern Baptist Convention President Jack Graham on March 20. Graham is pastor of the Dallas-area Prestonwood Baptist Church in Plano.
DALLAS (BP)–The primary responsibility of our government is to protect its citizens and there are times when war becomes a necessary last resort. Removing Saddam Hussein from power is a just and necessary action after 12 years of lies and deception. I believe it is the responsibility of America to lead in the desire for freedom and peace around the world. For this reason, I, along with millions of Southern Baptists, support our President’s decision. This war is “just” because its cause is liberation not occupation, protection not aggression, peace not appeasement.
In these difficult days ahead, it is comforting to know we have courageous and credible leadership in the White House. Our President has often been challenged by these words of the Wesleyan hymn “A Charge to Keep I Have”:
A charge to keep I have
A God to glorify
A never dying soul to save
And fit it for the sky
In these days surrounded by fear, let us remember Psalm 27:1 and 3, “The Lord is my light and my salvation-whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life-of whom shall I be afraid?” We enter and endure these days not in “a spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (2 Timothy 1:7).
We will never forget September 11th when our nation was attacked by murderous thugs. America will continue to respond to threats of evil with courageous resolve. Southern Baptists will embrace and engage this global challenge with faith and renewed commitment to evangelism and missions. We will unite in prayer and faith. We will enlist prayer warriors as special forces to pray for our troops and their families. We pray for peace and the possibility of a better world where tyranny and terrorism are eliminated.
We remember our chaplains who are ministering God’s grace and strength. We pray for the Iraqi people and the people of the Middle East that there will be a minimum of bloodshed. We pray for revival and spiritual awakening in our beloved nation. We ask God for protection from terrorism at home and abroad. In these urgent of days we will seize the opportunity to advance the Kingdom of God by sharing the message of Jesus and His love.
Now is the time for all Americans to band together as brothers and sisters in support of our nation, our Commander and Chief, George W. Bush, and our military forces. I encourage our pastors and churches to designate days of prayer and fasting. May our families join together in personal and private intercession. Let us ask God for a mighty outpouring of His Spirit across America and around the world. As our Marines say, Semper Fidelis — “Ever Faithful,” Southern Baptists.
(BP) photo posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo title: JACK GRAHAM.