By Will Hall, Message Editor
ALEXANDRIA – Louisiana Baptists are strongly pro-life!
Moreover, we care about the individual in the womb but also throughout all stages and circumstances of life—and this second point is important.
Too often during January, Sanctity of Life Month, the pro-abortion crowd tries to mischaracterize Christians as only caring about the life in the womb but not after it is born—and nothing could be further from the truth.
Louisiana Baptists’ Mobile Pregnancy Care Center (Children’s Home and Family Ministries) provided services to more than 1,100 women last year and even helped place several of the expectant mothers in foster maternity homes. But our care about human life did not stop there.
Louisiana Baptists also provided:
— residential ministry to 219 children and family members (Children’s Home and Family Ministries);
— foster care services for 85 children and adoption assistance to 21 couples (Children’s Home and Family Ministries);
— professional Christian counseling to nearly 1,800 individuals (Granberry Counseling Centers); and,
— life and job skills to 52 women (Christian Women’s Job Corps).
Additionally, our international orphan care ministry Orphan Embrace touched the lives of 1,900 children in Nicaragua, Guatemala and Haiti, last year.
In fact, we are embarking on the construction of a ministry center in Haiti (a joint project among the individual congregations, Children’s Home and Family Ministries and the Louisiana Baptist Convention) that will include orphan care and medical services, and, serve as a church planting hub.
A sign of things to come in Haiti was revealed this summer when a 43-member team representing 18 LBC churches ministered in the city of Croix-des-Bouquets and the rural area of Canaan. During the seven-day trip, more than 800 men, women and children received medical care, 16 families received safe drinking water systems–and 181 people professed Christ and were connected with local churches.
In all, Louisiana Baptists touched the lives of 4,900 children, families and individuals through these compassion ministries.
Louisiana Baptists support one of the largest prison ministries in the country.
At the Louisiana State Penitentiary in Angola, we have a four-year college program through the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary that has graduated about 250 inmates since 1995. Once known as the bloodiest prison in Louisiana, officials say in the two decades since implementation of the program violent incidents have dropped by 80 percent. This ministry also is credited with reducing the rate of recidivism – criminal behavior that lands someone back in prison – among those who are released.
Louisiana Baptists also partner with Southern Baptists from other states for a number of compassion ministries that allow us to have a presence not just in Louisiana but across the nation and around the world.
Our churches contribute to hunger relief funds which are distributed to projects here in Louisiana (20 percent), the United States (20 percent) and abroad (60 percent).
Our funds for the nation and overseas are combined with contributions from other Southern Baptist congregations. In 2014, that meant 250,000 persons overseas received food either as part of community development projects or disaster relief efforts. Meanwhile, in North America, $1 million was distributed to more than 1,000 hunger ministries—providing 4.5 million meals.
In fact, since 1974, Southern Baptists together have contributed more than a quarter of a billion dollars to fight world hunger.
Louisiana Baptist disaster relief teams are active in our state but are also part of a larger Southern Baptist organization that counts 90,000 trained volunteers and 2,000 mobile units (chainsaw, mud-out, command, communication, child care, shower, laundry, water purification, repair/rebuild, generators, and others) among the resources contributed by state conventions, local associations and individual congregations. Together, we compose the third largest disaster relief organization in the United States, and we provide much of the volunteer labor to the Red Cross and Salvation Army (the largest and second largest U.S.-based disaster relief entities).
Notably, during Hurricane Katrina relief operations, the Red Cross credited Southern Baptists with serving 90 percent of meals provided at Red Cross sites.
For that matter, our Christian Women’s Job Corps program is part of a larger effort coordinated by the Woman’s Missionary Union which was cited by both Al Gore and George W. Bush as the best of its type in lifting women out of government dependency and helping them become self-supporting wage-earners.
Finally, Louisiana Baptists also participate in World Changers, a Southern Baptist ministry that since 1990 has rehabilitated more than 15,000 homes, mostly in inner cities, and unlike Habitat for Humanity, at no cost to the home owner.
Importantly, we minister in these many different ways with no strings attached.
Still, when we offer to a person a loaf of bread or a cool drink of water, we also take the time to present Christ as the Living Bread and the Living Water, sometimes by simply saying, “Jesus loves you.”
So, the next time a pro-abortion activist tries to condemn you for your pro-life beliefs, be sure to let him or her know Louisiana Baptists are passionate about protecting the unborn.
However, also make sure he or she understands we are pro-life about the individual from the womb through eternity.