The Southern Baptist's International Mission Board Should be held accountable as SBC personnel told to leave China

Towery letter to Baptist papers and publications Nov. 21, 1997

For over ten years SBC International Mission Board (IMB) presidents and many vice presidents have been urged to help meet China's Christian challenge legally. Instead the IMB chose to have two programs in China: one legal and open and one clandestine and "secret." The IMB began the Non Resident Missionary program as an avenue to skirt the law in China and put local Christians under suspicion of being like these covert foreign missionaries.

The approach to China by the IMB is more than just a philosophical difference with the China Christian Council. It is viewed by many as an arrogant disregard for the years of suffering and pain that went into the opening of tens of thousands of churches in China since 1979. The government has told the China churches if they want to have churches then they must do it themselves. They are not to depend upon foreigners. To disregard this causes problems for the local believers because the unbelieving Party leaders already suspect all foreigners of being up to no-good. Remember Christianity came to China by foreign force of arms and illegal treaties. IMB only adds to that shame with such an approach.

There are many philosophical differences in how to do missions. None of them are perfect, but they do have to be open, honest, ethical and with mutual trust for the citizens and believers of the land where missions is undertaken.

The IMB has created business fronts both inside and outside China staffed and funded by IMB as a channel for mission work. These are legal entities since they are registered with the government, but when a business engages in religious activity it becomes illegal. In 1994 I tired to help John Haggai and his associates cease their evangelism under cover of business to no avail.

It is tragic that many law-abiding SBCers in China will have to leave because of the IMB actions. Christian friends are welcome in China as long as they obey the law. The approach the IMB has in China does not deserve a penny of support from SBC churches. I urge SBC churches and people to demand of IMB leaders an accounting.

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