PRINCEVILLE, N.C. (RNS) — When it comes to disaster relief, few outfits across the South have been as organized, efficient or cheerful as the Baptist and Methodist recovery networks.
Imagine Delores J. Porter’s surprise, then, when she gingerly stepped onto the exposed floor joists of her torn-out home to find a troop of young Muslim volunteers in blue “Islamic Relief USA” T-shirts installing support beams in the 90-degree heat.
“Everyone went to their own town to register” (Luke 2:3).
The familiar Christmas story starts with a governmental registry. Tracking — and taxing — populations helped Rome enact its oppression. So we read of a journey to Bethlehem by an engaged couple with a faith and ethnicity considered suspicious by the authorities.
Surely the widely circulated story caught the eyes of a lot of Baptists. It seems a coalition of U.S. Muslim groups launched a fundraiser to rebuild predominantly black churches targeted with arson following the Charleston, S.C., shooting in which nine members were killed by a lone gunman.