American Baptist International Ministries has provided an initial $5,000 disaster relief grant to help with relief and recovery in Myanmar, where Cyclone Nargis struck on Saturday, May 3.
The grant was provided by the American Baptist World Relief Office through One Great Hour of Sharing funds. The initial funds will be used by partners to provide immediate relief of clean drinking water, non-perishable food, blankets and medical kits to those who are victims of the devastating storm.
International Ministries is partnering with the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship on this grant, and their personnel are delivering resources and assessing the situation now. This follows an assessment by International Ministries personnel days after the cyclone struck.
"Some are concerned we may not be getting our gifts to our partners on the ground," said World Relief Officer Lisa Rothenberger. "I want to assure the many people and churches that want to help that we have trusted relationships and partners that allow us to get the needed aid into the country." Rothenberger noted that International Ministries is working directly with:
1) Our own personnel, who have been in the country since the cyclone struck and have provided us on-the-ground assessments.
2) Personnel from partners like the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, which has personnel on the ground now delivering funds from both denominations and getting the latest information.
3) The Myanmar Baptist Convention. Rothenberger noted that our mission efforts gave birth to this strong witness over 100 years ago. Today the MBC has a relief and development agency that has sent out a request that supporters help them raise more than $2 million to help with relief and recovery.
4) Other Baptist and Christian partners, such as Baptist World Aid and Church World Service are strong partners we can depend on to get money, supplies and clean water and food to those who need it most.
According to media reports, Nargis struck on May 3, in a low-lying delta region of this Southeast Asian country, with winds of up to 120 miles per hour. The latest news accounts give estimates of at least 22,000 deaths, with another 41,000 people missing and as many as 1 million people displaced. In a country with a population of nearly 55.4 million, the cyclone struck a region in the southwestern tip of the country, home to 24 million people.
"Myanmar has tremendous historical and current importance to American Baptists," said Murray. "Formerly known as Burma, our mission agency began with the work of the Judsons in that country. Today, we are still partners with the Myanmar Baptist Convention, and work with many ethnic groups from Burma who are refugees seeking to make a new life in the United States," Murray said. He added that International Ministries has not been able to make contact with its partners in Myanmar, but hopes to do so very soon and get better assessments of the immediate and long-term needs in the country for relief and recovery.
American Baptists wishing to support ongoing Myanmar efforts can do so through their church’s monthly report of mission support, designating contributions “OGHS-Myanmar Cyclone.” For online contributions, use the following form.
Since 1950, several American Protestant denominations have annually received the One Great Hour of Sharing offering to support their ministries in disaster relief, refugee assistance, and development aid. American Baptists joined this effort in 1973. Today, nine Christian denominations currently raise about $20 million annually through this offering. Each denomination retains what it raises to support vital ministries in more than 70 countries around the world.
American Baptist International Ministries, organized in 1814, is the oldest Baptist mission agency formed in North America. We serve more than 2,500 short-term and long-term missionaries annually, bringing U.S. and Puerto Rico churches together with partners in 76 countries in cutting-edge ministries that tell the good news of Jesus Christ while meeting human needs.
***Photos by Eva Pineda Hansen/DCA-ACT International