‘Baptist’ lesbians at orphanage alarm Romanians
MBC to screen certain missionary candidates more closely in future
By Allen Palmeri
January 25, 2005
JEFFERSON CITY – Romania Baptist Union (RBU) officials have expressed concern after two lesbians, associated with an unknown Baptist mission trip, created a disturbance at an eastern Romania orphanage.
The RBU’s concern has prompted Missouri Baptist Convention (MBC) Partnership Missions Specialist Norm Howell to exercise greater scrutiny in screening candidates, particularly those who are single, for short-term mission trips to Romania.
Howell learned about the potential problem in clearing Missouri Baptist singles for mission work when he tried to place a single Missouri Baptist woman at the orphanage where the problem with the lesbians occurred in 2003. The lesbians were ultimately removed from the orphanage and it is not known what Baptist denomination in the United States sent them. They were not Southern Baptists.
Because of how the lesbian women behaved on their mission trip to the orphanage, the missionary candidate that Howell was attempting to help was originally denied access. Ultimately Howell and the SBU worked it out to where she could minister at another Romanian orphanage. Howell attributed that effort to the MBC’s friendship with Onesimus Mladin, RBU general secretary and pastor of Love Baptist Church, Arad, Romania.
It is important for American Christians to be sensitive about this issue, Howell said. Plans call for the MBC to lead 10 trips to Romania in 2005.
“I know that the Romania Baptist Union has a very, very strong stance about homosexuality,” Howell said.
“When it comes to putting together mission teams, this is another area that we have to be conscious about. It’s another area that I need to put on an orientation. You have to take this seriously.”
Howell said it would be wise for the MBC to initiate background checks when churches invite someone from another church to join them on their mission trip. He said this would also apply to more than just Romania, but to the MBC’s other partnerships with Iraq, Puerto Rico and Colorado.
“If we’re going to be sending some teams out, we need to know the people who are going on our teams well, especially if we’re going to be involved in children’s ministries overseas,” he said.
Howell said the key to maintaining integrity in mission trips is for pastors by working with the MBC to ensure success. Screening singles from other churches who want to go along with Missouri Baptist missionaries has become a necessity in the current climate.
“Church ministries and mission works are places where molesters, in the past, have seen an open opportunity to go and without accountability be involved with children somewhere else, in another country,” he said.