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‘Fight Together Not Against Each Other’ — SBC Abuse Reform Task Force Member Urges Unity 

Mike Keahbone
Photo credit: Jesse T. Jackson

On Thursday (Mar. 2), Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) Abuse Reform Implementation Task Force (ARITF) vice chair Mike Keahbone told his Twitter followers why he joined the task force, arguing that there “some good” in the SBC that’s worth fighting for.

Keahbone started off his Twitter thread with an image of “The Lord of the Rings’” Samwise Gamgee telling Frodo, “There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo, and it’s worth fighting for.”

The ARITF member recalled the day that he was asked to serve on the task force. He answered with an “easy yes,” due to his conviction to stop sexual abuse in SBC churches.

RELATED: SBC Messengers Vote Overwhelmingly in Favor of Sexual Abuse Reforms

“That conviction is deeply rooted in being a believer, a pastor, a husband, and a daddy,” Keahbone stated. “Abuse has deeply affected my family and my ministry.”

Keahbone shared that he wasn’t aware of what that “easy yes” would cost. The Lawton, Oklahoma, pastor said that the “first step was diving into the deep and horrific world of those who had been victimized by abuse. Then it was swimming in the shameful depths of how victims were treated—not just by their abusers, but by those who should have been protecting them.”

Although the process has been grueling, Keahbone admitted it is “necessary.” The ARITF vice chair affirmed that each task force member loves Jesus, loves people, and hates abuse.

“Each of us has a story and a journey that made each of us willing to put our ‘yes’ on the table. Each of us has paid a heavy price,” Keahbone said. “The hours, the sleepless nights, the brokenness, time away from family, and even attacks from people who wear the same SBC jersey that we do. We are volunteers who answered what seems to be an impossible call.”

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“I don’t share this for sympathy or for a pat on the back,” Keahbone clarified. “I say it because you need to know that we are on your side and that we want to get this right.”

The members of the ARITF are in a “constant state of praying, seeking the Lord, vetting, researching, meeting, problem solving, fire fighting, and picking each other up,” Keahbone informed. “When we offer suggestions and ideas, they are not aimless shots in the dark, they are the product of all those things. We don’t mind questions, we welcome them. We don’t mind suggestions, we’ve begged for them! The only way abuse is stopped is for all of us to work together and pull on the same rope. We need you.”

“There is some good in this convention…and it is worth fighting for,” Keahbone concluded, urging SBC messengers: “Let’s fight together and not against each other.”

Last week, the task force received criticism after announcing its decision to use Guidepost Solutions for the construction of the SBC’s “Ministry Check” website. The site will list any SBC leader (pastor, deacon, etc.) who has been found guilty of sexual abuse or has been credibly accused.