"I went to Jerusalem to become acquainted (Gk. istoria) with Cephas" - Paul's words from Galatians 1:18.

When Good People Get Brought Down in the Vortex of an Evil World

10 Southern Baptists from Idaho, including a Southern Baptist pastor, have been arrested in Haiti for "child trafficking." The United States government is attempting to negotiate their release back to the United States. It became known on Monday that 21 of the 33 children attempted to be moved from Haiti to the Dominican Republic by the ten Southern Baptists came from a small mountain village and had been willingly given up by parents and relatives. The families had been told, though it was not reported by whom, that the children would be given good care, a proper education and even their own swimming pool.

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,


Wade Burleson

62 comments:

Elisabeth said...

I was thinking these people were incredibly naive to think that they could take the kids out without proper documentation. Sure, there has been an extreme tragedy and chaos reigns in Port au Prince, but that's all the more reason to make sure that laws are followed.

And did they think they could claim "good intentions" and be believed just because they don't look evil, and are part of a church group?!

Thy Peace said...

But Laura Sillsby from the Idaho group told Reuters from a jail cell at Haiti’s Judicial Police headquarters, “We had permission from the Dominican Republic government to bring the children to an orphanage that we have there.”

“We have a Baptist minister here (in Port-au-Prince) whose orphanage totally collapsed and he asked us to take the children to the orphanage in the Dominican Republic,” Sillsby added.

“I was going to come back here to do the paperwork,” Sillsby said. “They accuse us of children trafficking. This is something I would never do. We were not trying to do something wrong"
.
-----------------------------------

In chaotic situations, it is hard to follow the laws of a country, where the government institutions have collapsed or in shambles.

In Haiti, I do not think the above is true though. But if we look back in history and look at natural disasters that destabilizes any government from functioning at all, it is hard to follow laws in those situations.

Ron said...

They are now quoting people saying that many of the children had parents who gave them to this team or to someone in order to get them out of the country to a better life. This is still not what church groups should be doing.

It is best when going to other countries whose laws and customs are different than ours to work through recognized organizations such as our IMB who are familar with what can be the most help. I have watched goups come into disaster situations like this on their own and do great harm because they do not seek help.

I also still believe these people were motivated by the desire to do good but the media seems to be working hard to make them look like child thieves. This story will not be over for some time.

Dr. Michael Kear said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Dr. Michael Kear said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shadowspring said...

Voice of the Martyrs works with local Christians who are being martyred by their own countrymen. They work predominately in areas politically closed to open faith in Christ, but also in places where local terrorist groups attack Christians without government backing. They offer help to the families of jailed/murdered/disabled martyrs, to those martyred themselves and also provide Bibles and other Christian materials to underground Christians in closed nations.

Haiti is not a closed nation, the people in jail are not Haitians and they are not in jail because of their professed faith in Christ. I don't think the reference to VOM fits in this situation.

shadowspring said...

Oops, should have edited that to read:

They offer help to the families of jailed/murdered/disabled martyrs, to those PERSECUTED themselves and also provide Bibles and other Christian materials to underground Christians in closed nations.

Kevin M. Crowder said...

Mr. Kear,

Are you a member or attendee of EBC? If so I find you comments in poor taste.

Allow me to share my Facebook comment from earlier:

" 'The Baptists' That's what they are being called. Idiots? yes. Well intended? yes. Criminals? technically. Made an example of? looks like it. Pray for them. But pray harder for all the children who remain."

Child trafficking is HUGE problem in the world. I think "The Baptists" will endure this, and maybe, just maybe, this will deter REAL criminals from REALLY stealing children for less than honorable reasons.


Finally one last point. We as believers are not called to "GO, break up the nuclear family, bringing the lost children back to make them ours."

I find many things wrong with this. Adoption is a good thing. But many impoverished parents around the world would gladly give up their child (wrongfully) so that they could have the perceived riches of the US. We are to help the orphan, not take poor children from their parents.

Dr. Russell Moore filled in for Al Mohler Today discussing this very issue. It is worth a listen.

Wade Burleson said...

Dr. Kear,

We operate an orphanage of 300 children in Bangalore, India, and a school of over 1200 in India as well. Our church members actually operate it (Josna and Cyril Kumar). About twenty from our church will be going in August. We abide by all international and Indian laws, even in the day to day operations of the school and orphanage. We have had requests from some Americans to adopt orphans, but we do nothing without following the laws of the Indian government.

I applaud this groups desire to help Haitian children. Also, I am defending their motives. I am simply encouraging all Christians to abide by international and national laws when working with children.

In the end, it is for the protection of us all!

Blessings,

Wade

Bob Cleveland said...

My pastor is fond of saying "It's never right, to do wrong, to do right". I agree with that.

I've been to Haiti a couple of times. That's one of the last places I'd ever want to try to circumvent the law, and Christians ought to be the first to want to follow the law, shouldn't they?

Or be ready to stand good for the penalty. I don't see that first case of verbal hand-wringing in the Bible, when folks were being persecuted for their beliefs.

Think about some of my friends from the churches in Russia or Latvia coming over here and trying to illegally take some "underprivileged" American kids home with them, under the radar. We'd expect our government to enforce the law, including its just penalties. And if we would, and we don't think the same should apply to the well-meaning Baptists in Haiti, then we're a bunch of hypocrites.

Dr. Michael Kear said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Wade Burleson said...

Kevin,

Dr. Kear is a member of Emmanuel. I don't find his comment in poor taste one bit.

My post caused him to feel ashamed.

He has every right to feel ashamed by what his pastor writes or says, and he should be affirmed in his feelings, not told they are inappropriate or distasteful. Feelings are morally neutral. What you do because of your feelings is different. Mike has always and only been an exemplary Christian.

I believe anyone who knows me, including Mike, realize that the feelings of those who read Grace and Truth, though affirmed by me, do not change my views on the subjects of which I write. In other words, I always write because of a principle on which I stand, not to please people. How people receive what I write varies.


Wade

Kevin M. Crowder said...

"Frankly, I don't care. We need a lesson in biblical Christianity and biblical ethics."

Dr. Kear,

I hope you would pray and listen to what has been said. Your pastor is being very gracious to "The Baptists." Whether or not they should be in jail is not an issue to divide over. Your passions for them are laudable. But brother they, doing what they felt was right, will endure, for our Lord will be with them. How we as believers react to this will show our true character in Christ.

Anyway my purpose for saying that your comment was not in good taste was to say that that kind of spirit toward your pastor and church in public on such a matter as this would be better handled in private. And you can also choose the church you desire to attend in private as well.

Btw, when I need a lesson on biblical ethics I like to listen to Dr. Russell Moore who DOES teach biblical ethics. I would recommend you learn from him.


Peace and blessings and grace from the Lord,


~K. Crowder

Wade Burleson said...

Kevin,

I humbly disagree.

Dr. Kear has every right to make public his disagreement with me over this issue. My post is public. His response is public.

There's nothing wrong with people disagreeing, nor people expressing their differences of opinion with me. Emmanuel is a place for people of DIVERSE opinion. Mike's fairly new to EBC and may not know our church is a better place BECAUSE people disagree with the pastor.

By the way, my blog is not a church blog, nor is it the official position of our church. It's my personal blog. There's a huge difference. :) Some folks may be unable to separate a personal blog from the church which I pastor.

Dr. Michael Kear said...

Pastor Wade,

I want to apologize for my comments here. Not for my stand, which I still think is correct, but for saying publicly what should have been stated privately between you and me.

I am removing the comments and I appreciate the grace with which you responded.

Peace,
Mike

Wade Burleson said...

No problem Mike! A good discussion of this issue all around from my perspective.

Kevin M. Crowder said...

"I was thinking these people were incredibly naive"

"And did they think they could claim "good intentions" and be believed just because they don't look evil, and are part of a church group?!"

I could not agree more Elisabeth. Some people in Christiandom just gotta ruin it for everyone.

Kevin in Manila said...

Wade,
I inclined to agree with your assessment here. Their intentions were good, but they way they went about this was completely wrong. Once again, we believers are giving ourselves a black eye.

Let's not forget Jesus' commandment:

I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves. -Matthew 10:16

Robert said...

Wade,
Like I tried to say on Dr Mohlers program today.
1). Nobody knows the actual facts of the case. Inaccurate facts lead to inaccurate conclusions.
2.Many people have taken orphans out of the country without the necc paperwork or laws being followed at the time. It was a civil crisis of Biblical preportions.
Too or three examples......Mike Wilson of Two Rivers Baptist Church here in Nashville. He had the media help him and went on his own but did not the necc paperwork.
The governor of PA and the 60 children that flew out on the C-130 to his state. No laws or paperwork was filed before hand. Trust me when dude calls up the POTUS aint no cultural minister going to stop the gov.

3. Laura Silsby runs this website www.personalshopper.com and was the 2006 business women of the year.

4.It appears that she attempted to follow all the laws that she was aware of and made aware of by the authorities she contacted.

5. Why the attempt by Dr Moore to distance himself from the group of mainly Southern Baptist people....not once did he say that the Church was SBC.

6.Everyone needs to read Brothers we ARE NOT professionals by John Piper.

7. People might want to read about the rift between the European leftist anti-Christian Bigots like the SOS villages and American Christian organizations. Read Heather Paul and SAVe the Children philosophy.
Also read what the head of the Haitian Vodoo priest sid.....really this is a Spiritual fight between those who made a pact with Devil and God.
I wouldnt want to side with the Devil....guess what he loses...bigtime!!!!

Robert I Masters
From the Southern Baptist Geneva

Kevin M. Crowder said...

Wade,

Just because someone CAN do something doesn't mean its couth. I applaud your transparency. But please do not forget that it is YOUR detractors who have called you "velvet steel."

You have outlasted those who disagreed with you on grander scales. Brunson, Gains, Patterson, Mohler, Moore, et al will too. Don't forget that here while you have the apparent upper hand.

Humbly submitted from the archives of "The People's Evidence."


~Kevin

PS: As a history buff here is a line you might enjoy from a book by Merrill D. Peterson:

"The art of compromise became a conserving force, cushioning the shocks of change, vindicating institutions at the expense of interests or doctrines; and when this art failed, finally, the union was dissolved."

You my friend know well how to carry the olive branch in one hand and the sword in the other.

:)

Robert said...

This was good from MSNBC.

Elizabeth Bartholet, a Harvard law professor who supports expanded international adoption, expressed concern about a possible overreaction to the arrests

"If not all their paperwork was together, that doesn't seem to me the worst crime in the world," she said. "The Haitian authorities should be trying to help a lot of kids get out — both the kids in the process of adoption and others who appear not to have parents or relatives able to take care of them.""It is astoundingly hypocritical," she said, "that people, in the name of helping children, would close down adoption."

Robert I Masters
From the Southern Baptist Geneva

Wade Burleson said...

Robert,

You make some excellent points. I don't necessarily disagree.

However, as one who has seen first hand the exploitation of children through slave markets, forced prostitution, and other sickening evils, I am promoting the laws that have been established to protect children--and those laws call for precise documentation and government approval before removing children from one country to another.

No Southern Baptist I've heard, including me, is arguing that these Southern Baptists had bad motives. These are good people who made a mistake, that's all.

I am DEFENDING them as people in terms of their character and motives. I am, however, saying that if they broke the law which is designed to prevent child exploitation, then we shouldn't just excuse them because they are Southern Baptists with good intentions.

If criminals should be excused from penalty for their lawbreaking because of their ignorance of the laws, then we turn legal authority on its head.

Thy Peace said...

NYT> Case Stokes Haiti’s Fear for Children, and Itself.

Robert said...

Wade,
http://www.cnn.com/2010/US/01/14/haiti.tennessee.family/index.html

In response to you.
1.
I dont believe laws were broken its just that laws are being made wily nily( I think the term is epso defacto)trying to appease this group and that group based on those peoples adoption ideals.
Basically the UN vs the US. So somehow the UN beat the US on this one.
2.
I dont believe we are called to follow laws that unjustly are applied by anybody. I agree with Laura Silsby are loyalty is too Christ and his law first.
Ie Christ love supercedes Haitian Soverienity.

BTW I am not arguing situational ethics here just that are loyalty lies in Christ law before mans law.

BTW 2 . I wish that Southern Baptist Attorneys would call up SOS Villages and politely ask MR Georg Whilhit to stop slandering Southern Baptist from CVBC with his statements about them "kidnapping" children. He has repeateadly stated those things all across the networks. I would think that is unlawful also!!!!!!

Kevin M. Crowder said...

Robert,

This case is ALL about situational ethics. You simply DO NOT remove children from a sovereign nation without permission. This Baptist Church could have found a field to set up a tent in Haiti and brought supplies over each day to care for the child and taken a week or two to find an appropriate place for the children. As Moore suggested today, mission is a long term process. When short tern missionaries and youth mission trip come on the scene, "cooler heads must prevail."

This is not WWII Germany. This is a nation who has a chosen and national religion which is admittedly defiant of Christianity. Even though Roman Catholicism is one of two state religions, noticed who died in PAP. The ArchBishop Miot, leader of that religion who sits in his office while the Catholic Canon is fused with VooDoo villainry. the RCC has a huge following in Latin and Central America for that very reason--that is to say that is fuses well with paganism.

Point is Christians need to be careful. These were not. Pray our Government can secure there release without a spectacle.

K

Robert said...

Kevin,
Your wrong and ignorant. Its not about situational ethics.
Gods law rules over mans law period!

I grew up in Indonesia and trust me I can give you many many cases where you have to choose between the two. Our choice must always be with Gods law.

Period.

Robert I Masters
From the Southern Baptist Geneva


Read here what Mike Wison did and said to those in Authority in Haiti.

http://www.tennessean.com/article/20100120/NEWS01/1200372/Nashville-ministry-speeds-adoptions-from-Haitian-orphanage

Kevin M. Crowder said...

"Kevin,
Your wrong and ignorant."

Robert,

Umm...ya well yur ugly and your feets too big.


Don't ever speak to me like that again!


K

RRR said...

“…though our brothers and sisters in Christ were benevolent in their intentions, they were completely wrong in how they went about accomplishing their mission.”

I agree. The news of this “well-intended” group may serve to educate us as to how we should temper our intentions and compassion with some logic and rationale. Were there no permanent Christian missionaries or professional humanitarian groups to work through?

I believe it just demonstrates how naïve “we” (I include myself) Americans can be as to the realities of things outside our American culture.

It can also serve to illustrate how similar blunders can be made by well-intentioned, though ill-equipped, church mission groups.

Often, church groups having only short-term project experience assume they know how to effectively reach a people for Christ in another culture. They reject involvement of long-term missionaries and prefer doing things “their” way. This can result in actually damaging relationships with nationals and projecting the perception of “Christians” being something other than we would prefer.

Two members of a volunteer team came close to destroying progress made by national Christians in establishing a Bible study in a very sensitive college situation recently. After being repeatedly asked to take a soft approach when relating to students and faculty at this facility, the two volunteers applied hard-core methods to get three students to raise their hands that they were “interested”. Then they singled these three out and used what would be considered by the nationals as very intimidating pressure to become Christians.

Close to tears, the three students sought only to escape! The two volunteers responded by saying, “That’s what we came here to do!” The national Christian leading the Bible study responded by saying, “We’ll just have to pray that the doors aren’t closed to us.”

The distinction between domestic and international methods should also be remembered as we move toward having one mission board. Hopefully, there won’t be attempts to apply one strategy globally.

John Notestein said...

Why is it so hard to care for the children in their own country? I support Compassion, and that is exactly what they are doing in this crisis. Many other Christian organizations are doing the same. I agree with you that, while I believe they had good intentions, it was an ill-advised way of doing it. Did they think it wouldn't look 'fishy'?

Rex Ray said...

Robert,
Obey God or obey man?

http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=5876053.PN.&OS=PN/5876053&RS=PN/5876053

In 2004, I went with a group to a Muslim country where missionaries were ‘under cover’. We were to build an ‘Internet Café’ where college students could use 30 donate computers that would be shipped later. The agreement was the ‘Café’ would be free to show any kind of movies the missionaries wanted.

I had taken 50 copies of Truth of Acts which tells how Catholics and Baptist parted ways and information of the above link.

I thought Muslims might be interested in the ‘fight’ between the two denominations because they disliked Catholics and hated Baptists.

I thought the link showing a patient that increased the efficiency of peddling a bicycle from 63% to 90% would also interest them. (It was awarded $100 for being the grand prize at an invention contest by LeTourneau University.)

The country was one hundred years behind the times. The wagon delivering lumber was pulled by horses. I gave the missionaries probably the only battery powered drill in the country.

Before landing, we received a questionnaire asking if we had any religious material. I was going to say yes, but the pastor said to put 'no' that mine wasn’t the kind of religious they referred to.

The group went through ‘inspection’ and waited to see if I made it. Was I breaking their laws? What would happen if they thought I was lying?

My article’s front page had: “The devil[s greatest victory was confusing his greatest defeat…Calvary”, but maybe my picture in a race with a marathon shirt influenced them to let me pass.

Before we got there, Muslims had surrounded a small church where Muslims called themselves “Believers”, and they whipped ever person there including children.

We had brought material to cover the inside of the church windows so no one could see inside.

We were not allowed to attend the church and needless to say the missionaries ‘buried’ my articles.

The week we were there, the Muslim that interpreted for us accepted Jesus. He was amazed I’d never drank alcohol.

Louis said...

It was stated in an earlier comment that the individuals now being detained in Haiti were obeying the laws to the best of their knowledge. It is incomprehensible to me that Mrs. Silsby, who judging from the extent of her previous work in Haiti & the D.R.--and doubtless an experienced international traveler--was unaware of the need for proper documentation when traveling from one country to another. Try as I might, I cannot ascribe that level of naivete to her.

I am among those who believe that she and her group were acting out of the best motivations, and that they truly had the best interests of the children at heart. I also think they were dead wrong in what they did.

To those who protest that we must obey God's laws rather than men's, and that for that reason these individuals were justified in violating international law and the sovereignty of the nations involved, I ask this question: If a person living in Mexico feels a moral compulsion to illegally cross the Rio Grande River with his family, and take up residence in the United States in order to flee the horrendous poverty and drug-related violence of Mexico, do we Christians welcome him with open arms on the basis of conforming to God's higher law? Sadly, most of the time the answer to that question is "No."

So as long as we are talking about the "higher law of Christ," we really ought to include His clear words in Matthew 7:12. We Americans desire for our laws and national sovereignty to be respected by citizens of other nations; Christ's command demands that we extend the same treatment to others.

B Nettles said...

Wade,
Excellent post. I appreciate the balance that you strike between wanting to encourage good motivation yet being aware of others seeing a bad motivation. Even the IMB is requiring all overseas volunteers to go through training in spotting child abuse. These people were definitely not thinking clearly, but I, too, hope they receive a fair and compassionate hearing.

Maybe we should meditate on 1 Peter 2:13-25. I certainly don't see how there could have been a choice between God's law and man's law in this situation. And if there were orphans who left with others without paperwork, that doesn't abrogate the government's authority in the least.

Unfortunately, throughout villages Eastern Europe (among other places) Baptists are labelled as cultic people who seek to steal children. This story will undoubtedly fuel that lie.

Dr. Michael Kear said...

Here's my take on the situation.

Ron and Deanna said...

I spent six months in Port-au-Prince Haiti working at an orphanage in 1988. It was amazing how many Christians wanted to circumspect the law and "take a kid home". We did not allow it. Sure the paper work was a hassle, but it was the right thing to do. There is such a haughty attitude, we are Americans and know best, and we are Christians and know best. I just cannot see Jesus with that attitude. I think it stinks. I also think it does more harm than we see when we come in with all the answers with a superior attitude!

Alan Paul said...

I don't know them Wade and assuming you don't either - I don't know how you can make a judgement on what their intentions were one way or the other. Just because they are Christians or SBCers, doesn't give them a free pass to innocence. I hope the situation is properly investigated by reliable authorities and their found to be genuine in their intentions.

Wade Burleson said...

Alan Paul,

I am assuming the best. Having read some statements from people involved, I have made a judgment their motives were benevolent.

It's nice to hear from someone who thinks I've been too easy on them.

:)

Thy Peace said...

Off Topic:

VTMBottomline [Paul Burleson] > CHRISTIANS DISCUSSING THINGS---IS IT POSSIBLE?.

Reality Check [Mary Burleson] > Do I Love in Deed or Just Words?.

Excellent posts.

Lydia said...

"Btw, when I need a lesson on biblical ethics I like to listen to Dr. Russell Moore who DOES teach biblical ethics. I would recommend you learn from him."

Ethics from Moore? The same guy who makes 120,000 or more a year as Dean at SBTS, makes money on books, speaking gigs and as pastor at a Highview campus who gladly took 10,000 grand from a donor to adopt one of his kids. Why? Because he could not afford it?

Those ethics?

Kevin, you needs some new idols.

Lydia said...

http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,584523,00.html

Interview with the groups lawyer who has only been allowed to see one of the 9 being held.

There really is something fishy about the way Haiti is handling this considering the chaos there.

Pastor Bob Farmer said...

Isn't it amazing that with 200,000 people dead and absolute devastation of whole villages and the capital, Haiti officials can arrest a group of Baptists for trying to help save children. Perhaps the government doesn't want to lose out on the fees it charges to adopt? I think the Florida Disaster Relief should tell the Haitian government that they will pull out if these Baptists aren't let go. I would encourage every Baptist to say they will withhold giving to the relief effort unless Baptist missionaries are treated fairly.

Christiane said...

Perhaps the missionaries were naive, and did 'break the rules' for what they perceived would be the greater good.

But, in doing that, they aligned with all the groups that are 'breaking the rules' for their own purposes, and some of those purposes are unspeakable.

The Baptists are innocent of intent to bring harm to the children. We know this.
But here's the problem:
they are a 'high-profile' group who broke rules designed to keep predators away from children.
Can the government of Haiti 'overlook' the fact that the eyes of the world are on this group and their methods, while naive and well-intentioned ?

The problem wasn't that the missionaries wanted to help the children. God bless them forever and ever for their loving-kindness.

The problem is that their example involved breaking rules expressly designed to protect little ones from predators and that this is what has created a problem for all concerned.

The missionaries are being held accountable for breaking the rules, not being punished for wanting to help. I think we all know this. For all we know, this incident may be used by God to bring good out of evil: it may high-light the need to protect the children from predators, AND may high-light the need for cutting unnecessary red-tape for those who really do want to help the little ones, who so much need that help.

It will all work out for the good in the end.

Jonquil said...

These people lied to the parents of the children about what they were going to do. (Yes, parents. At least ten of the children weren't orphans at all.)

There is nothing of God in telling parents you will let them visit their children in the Dominican Republic, then advertising that you will allow them to be adopted in the U.S.

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/feb/01/americans-trial-haiti-adoption-attempt

Clutching a cuddly toy, nine-year-old Beladine wiped away tears and sobbed as she recalled her experience. After she arrived at the camp she told charity workers: "I am not an orphan, I want to go home and see my mother."

Thirteen-year-old Chesner said his parents were approached by a pastor, believed to be a Haitian American, and some "white missionaries" who he later recognised on the bus which took the children to the border. Chesner said: "They told my parents that the environment and hygiene was not safe with dead bodies after the earthquake. They wanted to take me to a camp in Dominican Republic. I did not know how long I was going for, and I am happy to be back in Haiti because I want to see my mother."

Many of the children appeared not to be orphans, and, according to accounts, were randomly rounded up with help of the a Haitian American pastor. It is believed the pastor met the Americans as they travelled into the country for the second time, ostensibly to find vulnerable orphans who needed help. They have told interviewers he was sent by God to help them.

You don't have to lie to do the work of God. If you have to lie, both to the parents and to the government officials, then you're on the wrong path.

Louis said...

Pastor Bob--

Your suggestion that the Haitian government arrested the Americans out of a fear that they would be deprived of their usual fees for international adoptions implies that they in fact were taking the children to the D.R. for that very purpose. Such an act would be despicable considering the fact that they told the children's parents (those who could be located, anyway) that they were being taken out of the country as a temporary measure against the dangers present following the earthquake.

One more point: Do you really believe that Christians ought to follow Christ's command to assist the hurting and helpless only after receiving assurance that we shall be treated fairly while so doing?

Dr. Michael Kear said...

My take, part two: A Call for Integrity and Consistency

Robert said...

Rex Ray,
I think you and I agree and appreciated your posts to illustrate my point.

Rob

Robert said...

Dr Kear.
Thank you for your post....they express exactly how I believe too.
Saddens my heart my heart to see my fellow SBC responses!!!!!!

God Bless
Rob Masters

kbrown said...

These people had to be so naive that they thought they could get away with this. I am curious to find out the history of other groups trying this in other places as well. I know a group that goes to Taiwan and brings back children with no documentation on a regular basis only to clear things up later.

What is the Bible?

Ministry Happens in Ukraine said...

I offer this speculation: Real Trafficking has been going on in Haiti for a long time. A big problem (aside from being really stupid in trying to take kids across a border without documentation) is that this group probably wasn't willing to pay the necessary bribes in one of the most corrupt governments in existence. I would further speculate that the Voodoo Priest, as an establishment, has long been in favor with the government there. They have everything to lose by the emergence of an honest government and authentic Christianity. Finally, Trafficking as defined by the U.N. I think requires a form of "Exploitation" which as far as I can see is absent in this case, therefore I think the US should be using it's considerable leverage at this time to secure their immediate release.

Dr. Michael Kear said...

Very insightful comment, MHU. So many others have simply pre-judged (contrary to Scripture) and have called for their Christian brothers and sisters to be thrust into prison without even considering any evidence. It's a breath of fresh air to read a sober comment like yours.

Gene S said...

I, for one, know personally how your "good can be evil spoken of."

I went down to Mobile, Ala., to do clean-up work after Katrina. I worked for a man whose daughter needed extensive clean-up. We had an agreed price and he kept me working for 4 days removing a virtual mountain to the road for FEMA pick up.

When I presented the bill, he refused to pay me $2,000 of what is was owed. He paid me less than half the full bill--yet I ended up being arrested under a fake charge of Tresspassing!

In the jailhous in Mobile I discovered the harsh underbelly of a town full of large churches, pretense of righteousness, and corruption in politics and law enforcement.

They even had a "Theft of Services" statute on the state law books, making what was done to me by the citizen a Felony! BUT they would not enforce it for an outsider carrying a NC Drivers Liscense.

My complaints to the local newspaper and the FBI for violations of my Civil Rights had no effect. I spent 10 days in their jailhouse when I could have been making $2,000 a day helping people at a price less than what was being charged by local contractors doing tree work.

I don't know what the final outcome for the Baptists from Indiana might be. I just know everything is not as it seems when corruption rules and honest people enter the city limits!

I now know what my early Christian ancestors felt like being in jail over false accusations to keep them under control. It's not easy or sweet to be falsely accused when you are just doing your best to "do it right."

Jonquil said...

Do let's look at the evidence. Some of the evidence doesn't come from "voodoo priests"; it comes from a longstanding aid organization in the Dominican republic, as well as from reporters who directly interviewed, by name, the parents involved.

The leader of this group *lied* to both parents and children about her intentions. She told parents and children that she was taking the children away to an orphanage/camp, where the parents could visit them. However, she advertised on the Web that the children would be available for adoption. In any case, no such orphanage existed; all she had was a rented hotel, with no arrangements for food, medical care, education, or recreation.

She described the children as "orphans" when in fact she knew, having talked to their parents, that they were not.

She had been told, in Haiti, by multiple people, that she needed permission to take the children outside the country.

The leader had a goal, and she didn't let the needs of other people -- including the children, who were crying for their parents by the time they reached the border -- get in the way.

It is in no way the work of God to lie to parents in order to carry their children away.

Gene S said...

Assuming your description is accurate, I would have to agree that things were not as they should be.

While I told a sad story of an honest man (me) mistreated, there are also stories of contractors who rushed to take advantage, particularly with old people. One thing is sure: tragedy brings out both and best and worst of human nature!

Dr. Michael Kear said...

Now that the Baptists own Haitian lawyer has been exposed as part of the scheme to bilk the missionaries out of tens of thousands of dollars, I wonder if any of those who pre-judged and pre-condemned these believers will re-think their position. I doubt it.

Jonquil said...

Dr. Kear, scroll down in that selfsame article.

"But at least 20 of the children had living parents. Some told the AP they gave the kids to the group because the missionaries promised to educate them at an orphanage in the Dominican Republic and said they would allow parents to visit."

"The Dominican consul in Haiti, Carlos Castillo, has said he warned Silsby on Jan. 29, the day the group was detained at the border, that she lacked the required papers and risked being arrested for child trafficking."

The Guardian:

Thirteen-year-old Chesner said his parents were approached by a pastor, believed to be a Haitian American, and some "white missionaries" who he later recognised on the bus which took the children to the border. Chesner said: "They told my parents that the environment and hygiene was not safe with dead bodies after the earthquake. They wanted to take me to a camp in Dominican Republic.

From the Idaho Statesman:

A member of the group from Meridian's Central Valley Baptist Church handed an NBC producer a note during a Saturday interview while group leader Laura Silsby was speaking. All members of the group signed the note, except for Silsby and her live-in Nanny, 24-year-old Charisa Coulter, NBC reported.

"We fear for our lives in Haiti. There is corruption and extortion," the note read. "Laura wants to control. We believe lying. We're afraid."

That's evidence. It's not evidence from voodoo priests. It's evidence from three different sets of reporters.

Dr. Michael Kear said...

Agreed. And yet SBC pastors and leaders pre-judged and pre-condemned before any evidence was available, siding with a Voodoo priest against their own brothers and sisters in Christ. It's not only shameful, but sinful as well. I believe that these pastors and leaders should repent of their unbiblical statements and seek restoration. But I also know that hero worship is more important in American Cultural Religion than Truth and adherence to biblical standards.

It is horrible that these missionaries were misled by their leader, by promises from leaders in Haiti, etc. It was naive. And now we are just beginning to see what was actually behind it. Like the Nigerian internet schemes, the Voodoo priests in collusion with corrupt government officials were hoping to score big $ from the naive American missionaries. The saddest element was the knee-jerk response by the SBC leaders and pastors to pre-judge and pre-condemn their own brothers and sisters in Christ based on nothing more at the time than the accusations of a Voodoo priest.

I wish that the American Church had enough integrity to hold their leaders accountable and demand that they adhere to biblical standards, but I won't hold my breath. We live in the midst of a Cultural Religion based on good PR and political correctness. In this case that means kowtowing to Voodoo priests and calling for persecution of those accused by them whether that accusation has any merit or not.

Gene S said...

The first news report I heard on Network News identified the church as American Baptist.

Before it is over there will be errors in reporting. We can just hope for ultimate truth to come out in the end and innocent people to be exonerated.

WDalAustin said...

"The people who wrote the above comments are wrong. These Southern Baptists had benevolent, generous intentions."

You know these people personally? You have spoken with them about their intentions? I wonder if these people weren't southern baptists if you would have the same compassion for their "good intentions..."

What if the group of people trying to "save" these kids were completely devoid of any delusion or "faith"...? I wonder if you would be able to look at the situation objectively, and NOT through the eyes of your lord...

Dr. Michael Kear said...

Washington Times: Free the Baptist 10 in Haiti

Dr. Michael Kear said...

Haitian Judge to Release Baptist Missionaries

I am so happy to see this. After being pre-judged and pre-condemned by many of their own brothers and sisters in Christ, these Baptist missionaries are now going to be released. "Many are the plans in a man's heart, but it is the LORD's purpose that prevails." (Proverbs 19:21 NIV)

WDalAustin said...

"But any assessment of the heart is God's only. This is where comments can go astray it seems to me." -Paul Burleson-

Sounds like wise words to me, and since we can/should not judge a person's heart, all we have to judge one's actions is by the law. These people broke the law... end of story.

Robert said...

WDALAustin,
What law was broken?
Your an attorney from Haiti?

Dr. Michael Kear said...

"But any assessment of the heart is God's only. This is where comments can go astray it seems to me." -Paul Burleson-

Sage advice, indeed. Which is why it is so anti-scriptural to pre-judge and pre-condemn our brothers and sisters in Christ before there was any evidence at all. So many simply disobeyed the Bible, made false assessments of the heart, and declared people they knew nothing about, "guilty!" Those people now need to repent and be restored. Either the Bible is our standard or it is not. Political correctness, public relations, popular opinion, all these must be set aside for the authority of God's Word. When leaders persist in sin, openly disobeying God's Word, they should have the integrity to step down from their positions of authority until they are willing to re-align themselves with God's Word. These people broke the law of God... that is the end of the story.