One Child, One Church, One Inmate, One Church - Georgia Churches to Rebuild Society

Jan 30, 2003 08:38 PM EST

ATLANTA GA. - During the second annual Legislative Prayer Breakfast hosted by the Georgia Baptist Convention Jan. 29 in Atlanta, the newly elected Georgia Governor, Sonny Perdue called on churches and other faith-based agencies in working to rebuild the lives of foster children and inmates needing a stable influence in their lives.

"The New Testament teaches that we all have an obligation to help others," said Perdue, a member of the Second Baptist Church of Warner Robins said. "I want to call on pastors to redeem people, bring them to God, and then turn them loose in service to others.

"In the near future I'll be asking Georgia churches to help us in two new approaches called 'One Child, One Church' and 'One Inmate, One Church.' These are two areas of society that could greatly benefit from churches reaching out and wrapping their arms around others who need their support," continued Perdue.

"I want you to know that your governor is not afraid of churches or other faith-based institutions and he's not afraid to say that Jesus Christ is his Savior. I believe that the Bible is not a passive book -- that it calls us to action, and this is a wonderful opportunity for churches to play an important role in building society.

The Prayer Breakfast, held in the James H. "Sloppy" Floyd Building overlooking the city Skyline gathered nearly 180 Georgia Baptist pastors and their legislators in an initiative to help rebuild their community.

"The gospel is all about redeeming our society for the Kingdom of God. We are going to be knocking on your doors in the coming months to ask your help in being the salt and light in our world."

Perdue, in reference to the Biblical mandate for Christians to pray for their leaders, asked the congregants to pray for the state's elected officials.

"[We need] the wisdom from on high to sustain us as we implement this strategy. I'm going to call on you to pray for us because the Bible teaches that you will be disobedient if you don't."

The governor suggested a two-prong approach to involving faith-based institutions in playing pivotal roles in renovating the broken parts of Georgia's society. The institutions, such as the 3,500 Georgia Baptist congregations scattered across the state are to provide a loving sanctuary for foster care children under state custody and inmates who will be returning into society.

"No one is better qualified to help turn a life around than our churches," he added.

"There are people in prison who need to remain there for a long time, but there are also those who will be moving back into society and need to be restored to a productive role in society. They will need the help of a church to give them the love and understanding and spiritual foundation to help them in their new life.

The Georgia Baptist Convention Executive Director J. Robert White emphasized the spiritual, and not political nature of the prayer gathering while addressing the crowd of Georgia Baptist pastors and legislators. Aside from religious leaders, state officials including Secretary of State Cathy Cox, Commissioner of Agriculture Tommy Irvin, House Majority Leader Jimmy Skipper, and Richard Royal, chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee partook in the gathering.

Robert White supported the governor's statewide vision, encouraging churches to take part in the ministry opportunity that had been opened to them.

"I pray that every church in Georgia will be more than willing to accept the responsibility of fostering at least one child. What a blessing it would be for that child to be brought up in a Christian environment."

White also noted that Southern Baptist-endorsed chaplains in Georgia's prisons "are very much aware of the need to connect inmates with churches as the individuals move back into society."

"We will make every effort to encourage churches to be sensitive to this opportunity for ministry and to provide a Christian influence," White said.

By Pauline C.