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Baptists of the Year 2019: Amanda Tyler and Jorge Zapata

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When the EthicsDaily.com’s board of directors met this year to discuss potential Baptist of the Year candidates, one reality became evident.

Baptists in our ecosystem conducted remarkable work throughout the year, making a vital impact around the word.

Because of such dedicated and passionate disciples, the board struggled with narrowing the list to one individual.

Therefore, the EthicsDaily.com board of directors is proud to announce the Baptist of the Year 2019 will be awarded to two amazing individuals: Amanda Tyler and Jorge Zapata.

Tyler is the executive director of BJC (Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty), who led a coalition of organizations in a campaign called “Christians Against Christian Nationalism.”

Zapata, director of Fellowship Southwest’s Immigrant Relief Ministry, engaged in life-changing ministry with immigrants at the southern border.

Christians Against Christian Nationalism” began as an idea from Tyler and BJC. With Christian nationalism gaining momentum around the world, Tyler and her team felt compelled to mount a response.

“Christian nationalism harmfully suggests that to be a good American, one must be Christian or that to be a good Christian, one must be American,” said Tyler in a previous column. “BJC recognized an urgent need for a strong response from the Christian community to denounce Christian nationalism as a gross distortion of our faith and a dangerously divisive movement for our body politic.”

Following Tyler’s leadership, nothing short of “a strong response” emerged. Over 15,000 Christians from a variety of denominations signed the statement.

The Most Rev. Michael Curry, presiding bishop and primate for the Episcopal Church, commented, “Christian nationalism does not reflect the person and teachings of Jesus Christ, and so I stand with fellow leaders in the Christian community and call for a better way.”

As a partnering organization and recognizing the importance of Tyler’s vision for “Christians Against Christian Nationalism,” the EthicsDaily board wanted to support and honor her work.

Thoughtful and decent Christians should strongly consider supporting standing against Christian nationalism and standing up for a loving and passionate faith.

Jorge Zapata leads essential Christian work at the border of Mexico and the United States.

However, Zapata is not only a leader; he works alongside pastors and churches at the border.

Working through numerous ministries, including Fellowship Southwest, Zapata and his colleagues meet both the physical and spiritual needs of immigrants and refugees.

For years, Zapata and local pastors have understood the needs of immigrants and refugees fleeing violence, poverty and hunger.

While politicians and pundits verbally argued over immigration policies, Zapata and his team stopped talking and started doing.

With millions of immigrants approaching the border each year, Zapata and his team asked an important question, “How would Jesus react to the needs of these people?”

Working collaboratively with local churches and national organizations, Zapata developed a dynamic network of compassionate and determined disciples.

Operating together, Zapata and these organizations welcome the stranger, feed the hungry, provide shelter for the homeless and offer rest for the weary.

“Jorge combines a deep love for all people with an enormous matrix of friendships among borderland pastors,” Marv Knox, field coordinator at Fellowship Southwest, commented.

“The result is a continual network of ministry to refugees, from Brownsville/Matamoros to San Diego/Tijuana,” Knox said. “Jorge’s compassion and connections have strengthened and expanded border churches’ ability to minister to ‘the least of these’ who have landed on their doorsteps.”

Because of Zapata’s significant ministry over the last decade, EthicsDaily wanted to honor his work and continue shining light on the vital ministry at the Mexico-United States border.

Zapata and local border pastors are truly being the hands and feet of Jesus.

Both Tyler and Zapata represent the very best of the Baptist movement as they boldly and compassionately live out their faith.

EthicsDaily.com is honored to name both Tyler and Zapata as our 2019 Baptists of the Year.

Editor’s note: Read about previous Baptists of the Year here.

Mitch Randall

Mitch Randall is executive director of EthicsDaily.com.