April 8, 2003
Missouri to be the first statewide Baptist organization to minister in the war-ravaged country
JEFFERSON CITY – Plans are being made for the Missouri Baptist Convention to go into Iraq when the war ends.
The International Mission Board (IMB) has said "yes" to a request by David Clippard, MBC executive director, for Missouri to be the first statewide Baptist organization to minister in the war-ravaged country when the fighting stops.
"We have received requests from one state convention and five churches," Terry Sharp of the IMB said. "These have indicated a desire for service, and they’re on board to do so."
Clippard said he got the idea during a prayer time at an associational meeting.
"I remembered hearing about or reading about Douglas Macarthur requesting missionaries and Bibles for Japan after World War II," Clippard said. "The Japanese felt their gods had been defeated by the American God, and they wanted to know who this Christian God was.
"America didn’t respond to Macarthur’s request, so the Japanese chased the dollar instead. I think the same thing will happen in Iraq if we don’t step through this window of opportunity."
Jeff Stack, a member of Parkway Baptist Church, St. Louis, is home on furlough from a missionary assignment in the Middle East. The IMB has asked Stack to coordinate the future efforts in Iraq.
"We are anticipating opportunities for people to get into Iraq after the war," Stack said. "Right now, we’re working with missionaries on the field and at the IMB. I would imagine we would do humanitarian projects first such as distribution of food and water purification. These things will be tied into long term strategies such as church planting."
Stack said all churches can get involved.
"We think churches will be able to provide boxes of food for less than $35 a box. We will be communicating information about this to churches through state conventions and associations," Stack explained. "
"Iraq is now a very restricted access country, but we’re expecting after the war for there to be opportunities for us as Baptists to go in and share. There will be a lot of people going in right after the war from all over the world, but people forget. We want o continue sending people in to work in education and hospitals. We will be looking for volunteers to develop a long-term presence."