Southern Baptists Contribute $2.7 Million to IMB Relief Efforts

As of Jan. 12, members of the Southern Baptist Convention—the largest Protestant denomination in America—have given $2.7 million through the International Mission Board Asia Earthquake Disaster Relief fund to ease the suffering of those affected by the Dec. 26 quake tsunami in South Asia.

“In Sri Lanka relief gifts have provided school uniforms for children whose homes and clothes were destroyed. And they’ve given safe drinking water, food and shelter to Muslims, Hindus, Buddhists and others,” the IMB reported Thursday.

In tsunami-ravaged Banda Aceh—the capital of Indonesia’s Aceh province—Southern Baptists are using relief funds to set up a public kitchen. “One of the big needs in this tsunami-ravaged area is the lack of facilities to prepare food,” said a Southern Baptist working there. According to the IMB, the public kitchen will provide food, drinking water, gas stoves, gas tanks, cooking utensils and eating supplies—allowing people to cook food and boil water for themselves.

Relief funds have also provided personal hygiene kits and large amounts of food, water purification tablets and medical supplies that may reach as many as 500,000 families in Indonesia.

“It’s an unprecedented opportunity in this part of the world to reach out in Jesus’ name and share His gift of life and love,” said David Garrison, regional leader for board work in South Asia.

IMB reports that Southern Baptists in Indonesia anticipate continued efforts to host teams of doctors to care for the injured and prevent disease outbreaks. In addition people still need food, clean water, shelter and supplies for cooking, personal hygiene and medical needs. IMB reports that Southern Baptist missionaries and volunteers will remain in the affected areas for a long time, using relief gifts to help people rebuild their lives.

“Pray for all the aid workers there in north Sumatra,” says a Southern Baptist. “Many have worked long hours and with minimal food, and still there is so much work to do. So much has to be cleared before rebuilding can start.”

Garrison thanked Southern Baptists for their prayers and their gifts through the Southern Baptist Convention’s Cooperative Program and Lottie Moon Christmas Offering that allow missionaries to live overseas and share the love of Jesus. “When you give through the [International Mission Board], you give in Jesus’ name,” he said.

And because Southern Baptists are already in place to minister, every cent of relief gifts goes to minister to the needs of those directly affected by the disaster, IMB reported. “It’s an efficient and effective way to meet needs,” said Garrison.

In addition to Indonesia, the mission agency also reports continued efforts in Thailand, Malaysia, and Sri Lanka—where workers expect to continue providing safe drinking water, food and shelter. Eventually work may focus on helping people build new homes.