The 10 Southern Baptists - arrested on the Dominican Republic border on Friday in possession of the children - insisted that they were not involved in child trafficking, but they had simply been trying to bring the children to a hotel on the north Dominican Republic coast. The hotel had been established as a temporary orphanage by two congregation members, Laura Silsby and Charisa Coulter, who are among those being held. The group was working toward a permanent solution for the care of the Haitian children.
Laura Silsby admitted to Haitian authorities that her group from Idaho did not have the correct paperwork, including the passports or proper permission to leave the country from the Haitian government, but she said she did not believe lack of proper documentation would be an issue. She claimed she was "just trying to do the right thing".
I, for one, believe her. I believe every person in this group had good intentions. Unfortunately, we live in an evil and fallen world, and both law enforcement and the public cannot believe everyone who claims they had "good intentions." For example, a blog with the title Why Steal the Organs When You Can Steal the Whole Child alleges these Southern Baptists were after the children to sell them to nations who would use them for organ harvesting. Some of the comments made by people on this secular blog were quite unsympathetic to the 10 Southern Baptists. For example:
"I know for a fact that there is one or several groups of Americans who are deep into child abduction – real kidnappings of orphans and the abandoned – out of poor countries and they do like black kids. They have for instance bought babies from crack moms during the 90s and trafficked young girls out of Niger as well. They are then sold into slavery, and some of them are kept as sex- and house-slaves on farms in US rural areas. These people are organized and dangerous."
"This is an outrageous situation that should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."
"Either they are being taken for the sex industry, or organ harvesting. That’s my opinion. I read a story the other day, that told about trucks riding around Haiti picking up children."
The people who wrote the above comments are wrong. These Southern Baptists had benevolent, generous intentions.
Unfortunately, our Southern Baptist friends were also very unwise- yes, even stupid. In a world as evil as ours, you can't go about doing good while breaking international law. Laws in civilized societies are established to protect the innocent.
I am praying for our fellow Southern Baptists, but we Southern Baptists should be the first to point out that though our brothers and sisters in Christ were benevolent in their intentions, they were completely wrong in how they went about accomplishing their mission.
The difficult question is whether or not they should be given jail time for breaking the law. Though I do not want any of the Southern Baptists to be sentenced to jail time in Haiti for their actions, I believe they should be--for the sake of the law and the future enforcement of those laws when those who possess evil intentions toward children are caught taking them without government permission. I realize this position is not a popular one, and I believe the sentence should be a light one, but the verdict should be "guilty."
Of course, if it were my wife in the Haitian jail, I would fight tooth and toe nail to get her out. I would call in every marker, pressure every politician, and fly to Haiti myself to do all I could to help her get out--NOW.
But I would hope I that would have had the wisdom to never have sent her to Haiti to remove children without proper legal documentation and government paperwork in the first place.
In His Grace,