The press is full of reports about Baptist missionaries who have been arrested in Haiti. They are accused of—and, as of yesterday, formally charged with—attempting to abduct children illegally into the neighboring Dominican Republic, ostensibly with the purpose of eventually selling the children into adoption. The missionaries have been moved from lodging in a public building and sent to jail. Jail in Haiti. Jail in a Haiti that has been decimated by earthquakes.
I admit that my first reaction when I heard the story was, “Oh, no! Another black mark against Fundamentalists.” As it turns out, however, these missionaries were not from any Fundamentalist group. They were from Southern Baptist churches (albeit mainly from northern Southern Baptist churches). Still, they wear the names Baptist and missionary, and as far as most people are concerned, that has implications enough for the rest of us who are Baptists concerned with missions.
Naturally, the American press is playing up the story, focusing mainly on the two words Baptist and missionaries. To read the reports in the daily papers one would imagine the worst. Baptist missionaries have been arrested. Baptist missionaries were abducting children. Baptist missionaries have been charged and jailed. The natural assumption is that Baptist missionaries must be guilty.