Marietta Baptist Church helping Syrian refugees resettle in Georgia

Bryant Wright, a former president of the Southern Baptist Convention and now the pastor of Johnson Ferry Baptist Church, confirmed Monday that his large Marietta church is helping resettle a Syrian refugee family that arrived in Georgia last week.

A family that attends Johnson Ferry let Mohammad, Ebtesam and their four-year-old son stay in their home until the church found them an apartment in the Atlanta region, said Wright, who is known for his "Right from the Heart" ministry broadcast on television and radio. Working with the World Relief Atlanta refugee resettlement agency, Wright's 8,400-member church is now helping the Syrians — Sunni Muslims — cover their expenses and learn English.

Wright said he disagrees with Gov. Nathan Deal's attempts to halt the resettlement of Syrians in Georgia, saying the Bible teaches people to care for refugees. Wright added that Jesus, Joseph and Mary were refugees. At the same time, Wright said he understands Deal's concerns about protecting public safety following the terrorist attacks that killed 130 people in Paris last month. Wright added his church had been planning to help the Syrian family long before the massacre in France.

“I disagree with Gov. Deal on that decision and at the same time I understand his responsibility as governor is different from mine,” Wright told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “I really do understand the responsibility he has of seeking to protect the citizens of the state.”

Wright, whose church has a busy international ministry, said he and his wife visited camps for displaced Syrians on the borders of Jordan and Lebanon last year.

“It was just so heartbreaking to see the humanitarian disaster that is occurring because of the war in Syria,” he said. “Knowing the United States was going to be taking on more Syrian refugees, we just wanted to be stepping up to minister with the love of Christ to these folks who have often lost everything.”