July 23, 2014
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SAN ANTONIO (BP) -- Southern Baptist leaders recognized something when they toured federal government facilities for children who have fled to the United States without their parents -- hope.

Ronnie Floyd, president of the Southern Baptist Convention, and Russell D. Moore, the SBC's lead ethicist, joined others in tours Tuesday (July 22) of two centers established to address the crisis of unaccompanied minors crossing America's southern border.

"These children are not issues to be resolved but persons bearing dignity and needing care."
-- Russell D. Moore
The centers in McAllen and San Antonio, Texas, are part of the response to a wave that includes more than 57,000 underage children who have been apprehended at the border with Mexico in the last nine months. Most of the children -- and sometimes children accompanied by a young parent or parents -- have fled Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala, which are plagued not only by poverty but by violence among gangs involved in drug trafficking.

"I was struck as we were walking through the facility with two things: a sense of fear and a sense of hope," Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, said in a written statement. "A sense of fear when I asked the kids why they made the trek up to the United States. And a sense of hope: I saw many crosses and Bibles. Many people are desperately hoping for an end to the violence where they come from."

Floyd said, "These are real people who are looking for hope, and we have the greatest hope that anyone can give them. ... [W]e need to provide them that hope -- hope that we love them, hope that we care for them, hope most of all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ that will change their life and give them hope forever, whether they remain in the United States or they go back to their homeland.

"People will go a long way and tackle obstacles when they feel that hope is possible. They are hoping for a better life," Floyd said.

Floyd and Moore were among pastors and other religious leaders who walked through a U.S. Customs and Border Protection detention center in McAllen and a Department of Health and Human Services shelter in San Antonio. Among those participating in one or both of the tours hosted by the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention were Jim Richards, the SBTC's executive director; Daniel Flores, the Roman Catholic bishop of Brownsville, Texas; and SBTC pastors. Read More
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