September 29, 1999

Patterson addresses Y2K fears,
comments about praying for Jews

___By Mark Wingfield
___Managing Editor
___NASHVILLE, Tenn.--Y2K fears shouldn't keep Southern Baptist youth away from a New Year's celebration in Houston, and fears of offending Jewish leaders shouldn't keep Southern Baptists from witnessing to and praying for Jews, Paige Patterson told members of the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee Sept. 20.
___In his president's address to the committee, Patterson referenced the recent flap in the secular media over the SBC International Mission Board's emphasis on praying for Jews to believe in Jesus as the Messiah during their recent High Holy Days. Abraham Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League, had written Patterson a letter expressing his outrage over the prayer emphasis.
___Patterson said he wrote Foxman back to explain that Southern Baptists "are never happy when we offend anybody."
___However, he added, Baptists find themselves in a dilemma, Patterson added: "One Jew has said to us, 'You cannot witness and you cannot pray for the salvation of Jews.' Another Jew has said to us, 'You must share my message with everyone in the world, and you must pray for the conversion of my people, the Jewish nation.'"
___The problem, he quipped, is "we are torn between the advice of two Jews."
___However, Patterson said he told Foxman Southern Baptists must "follow the example and advice of the one who died for us" and noted, "I hope and trust he'll understand that."
___Further, Patterson said, Southern Baptists will remain standing by the Jewish people to protect their religious liberty and freedom from coercion when all others have fallen away.
___"We do not believe in coercion, and we do not believe in deception in evangelism, but we do believe in witnessing to everybody," he said.
___Also in his brief message, Patterson admonished Southern Baptist parents and youth to overcome their fears of a millennial disaster and participate in a national youth celebration called YouthLink 2000. The event is planned for multiple venues across the nation Dec. 29-31, including Houston.
___"I urge you and plead with you to have your youth involved with YouthLink 2000," Patterson said.
___Despite various predictions of Y2K problems, Patterson predicted Americans will wake up Jan. 1 to "the same old world, full of sin and full of opportunity to lead people to faith in Christ."
___On a related note, Patterson affirmed the plea of a young messenger at this summer's SBC annual meeting to encourage more involvement of youth in the annual meetings.
___"Join me in asking your church to send one of its 10 messengers to the convention as a young person," he suggested. "Let's ask our young people to help us."


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