The instances of forced conversion or assimilation often took place in the form of mandatory boarding schools. Although Southern Baptists are not specifically named in the report, it does say many of these boarding school were run with the help of churches from various denominations.
The report was the inspiration for the resolution Keahbone wrote with fellow pastors J.T. English (Storyline Fellowship in Arvada, Colo.) and Jon Nelson (Soma Community Church in Jefferson City, Mo.)
“I read all 95 pages of the report and my initial response was filled with anger and sadness because it was starting to fill in the information gaps that I had lived with my entire life,” Keahbone said.
“I learned that some of my family members were just treated like wild animals and they were simply stuck in survival mode. It was gross, ugly and it started to become personal.”
The resolution he helped craft rejects any type of forced conversion or assimilation of Native peoples as antithetical to Southern Baptist beliefs about the Great Commission, religious liberty and soul freedom.
“I had never drafted a resolution in my life, and I had never even been to an SBC annual meeting in person before this year, but I really felt like this was an important thing for us to recognize,” Keahbone said.
“Bart Barber (chair of the 2022 Resolutions Committee) read every page of the report and got back with me and said we need to do something with this. Everybody on the committee was so supportive of the resolution and agreed it needed to be addressed. They allowed me to be the one to present it, and the response from the convention was overwhelming, awesome and did a lot of good for my heart.”
When thinking about his own service to Southern Baptists, both as a pastor and as a member of the SBC Executive Committee, Keahbone remembers his uncle’s philosophy as well as the impact Southern Baptist ministry has had on his own life.
He recalls the way Southern Baptists ministered to him as a young boy growing up in the Comanche tribe, and explained his first exposure to Christianity and the Church was through Vacation Bible School at First Baptist Church Elgin, Okla.
At VBS, he experienced “safety, kindness and love,” he said. This Gospel impact still drives him as he serves Southern Baptists, both for who they are and who they could be.
“I understand the impact of the Gospel in my life, and I was introduced to that Gospel through some godly and amazing wonderful Christian people at First Baptist Church Elgin,” Keahbone said.
“They became a family to me, and I became a part of something and I didn’t really realize it. All I knew was through these people I learned that God was real. I’ve just seen the Lord work too much and too often in my life to just give up on our Convention. I just believe it’s worth fighting for. Amidst all the ugliness that we see, we are still people who proclaim the Gospel and we take the Gospel all over the world. The Lord’s hand is on us, and He’s not done with us yet.”
This article originally appeared at Baptist Press.