Baptists Around the World Join Hands in Support of Crisis Response

n a rural village in southern Haiti, a woman arrives at a clinic with an unexpected gift: a chicken. In this part of the world, it is a highly valuable token of appreciation. Medical staff inside are treating people affected by Hurricane Matthew – the country’s worst disaster since the 2010 earthquake – and she wanted to thank them. Her community in Dalmatte is located in a hard to reach area, and help had been long in coming. Until now.

With the support of Canadian Baptists, the small mobile clinic arrived in Dalmatte in the weeks following the October 2016 disaster. In one day, 300 people came to the clinic for treatment. Some travelled by donkey, motorbike and others on foot.

Emilia lives just south of Dalmatte and captured the feeling and need well. “We are rejoicing for your presence that shows us our prayers have been answered. I want to thank you for dispatching your team to come care for and remember the people.”

The transformation that Emilia has seen is because of the generosity of Canadian Baptists in times of crisis. The generosity flows through to the partnerships within the global Baptist family. One part of which is the Baptist World Alliance Forum for Aid and Development (BFAD). CBM has been a member since the beginning of this initiative, which connects Baptists around the world during emergencies.

BFAD is like an open meeting room – it is a space to collaborate, learn and work in preparation for, throughout and after times of crisis. We want the local Baptist convention of the affected region to be at the centre of every response – their knowledge and relationships are invaluable. This helps us to avoid duplication of resources, increasing good stewardship.

Although our aim is to empower local conventions to take leadership during a crisis, we don’t want them to be overburdened or stressed by the impact of the response. But that doesn’t mean the Canadian Baptists take over. BFAD is well described by the words Paul writes in his first letter to the Corinthians:

“Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ.” (1 Corinthians 12:12)

Describing the body of Christ, Paul highlights two aspects. First, we should have equal concern for all parts of the body – wherever they are. Second, every part has a specific place and role.

“But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be … If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:18, 26)

Mosaic is a community forum of local and global voices united by a shared mission. Mosaic will serve as a catalyst to stimulate and encourage passionate discipleship among Canadian Baptists and their partners.

Share this article

Fall 2020

Table of Contents

It would be somewhat easier, some may say, to forge our own paths, our own partnerships and go our own way. However, as many who have their own ministries can attest to, working on one’s own can be lonely. In addition, you miss out on the opportunity to develop, share and strengthen relationships, accountability, learning and ideas. When we choose to work in partnership, we can better support each other during the hard times and celebrate the successes together.

Much of this ethos of working together has emerged from previous experience, learning from less than ideal situations. Following the 2010 Haiti earthquake, the members of the humanitarian sector – both faith-based and secular – were in agreement that reform needed to occur. Duplication of efforts, top-down decisions and difficult politics were all common challenges.

BFAD was built on the theology of community developed by the Apostle Paul. With practical learnings and ministry experience, Baptists continue to review their work and collaborate through this forum.

In Nepal, collaboration helps give Hanuk hope. He is an 11-year-old boy in Grade 3. He lives about a two-day trip (in good weather) from Kathmandu. The 2015 earthquake completely destroyed his classrooms. Up until last year, he didn’t know what the future of his schooling would look like.

The teachers and community created some temporary structures to make do and mend, with tarpaulin and planks of wood. But it was substandard – no one can study in monsoon season under a tarpaulin. Along with other global Baptists, CBM stepped in to help. Hanuk now has a new school, and he is able to study safely and well.

“We were not able to continue our studies in a normal, peaceful manner in the past,” says Hanuk. “Now, I like my new classroom because it is so warm, and I am happy in my classroom. We do not need to worry in case of another earthquake because of the earthquake-resistant building.”

Through people like Emilia in Haiti and Hanuk in Nepal, we see how our collaboration as global Baptists benefits those on the ground – the parts of the body that are strained and broken during times of crisis. But what does being a part of the body mean for you, as you faithfully worship at your church in Canada or elsewhere?

Looking back at Paul’s words, we see that his theology of community and the image of the Church being a body is a development of Jesus’ words and actions. In Jesus’ ministry, we see him draw and develop a community and family around him – his disciples and followers. We see the emphasis on community and family through shared meals, his stories and his listening. We also see this through one of Jesus’ most important commandments: Love your neighbour as yourself (Mark 12:31).

We know our neighbour is nearby, next door. But what about those neighbours, who are also part of the body, but are more distant? It is difficult to maintain a genuine concern for people who are suffering in different parts of the world. Despite graphic images displayed in the media, that concern usually lasts for a day or two. A personal connection is rarely established and we quickly return to the busyness of our own lives. But Paul reminds us that we are already part of a family. We are a whole body, so we cannot disregard any part.

I recently completed a first aid course. The trainer reminded us that when one part of the body is broken, often another part steps in to support it. You undoubtedly have remarkable stories of your own about receiving support from another part of the body of Christ. And you can likely recall how the “oxygen supply” from Jesus flowed through others to sustain you in that situation.

As you participate in your local church, we see you as part of this oxygen supply at critical times. Your prayers and giving have far-reaching effects throughout the world, both through CBM and BFAD.

The generosity of Canadian Baptists helped purchase and ship recovery materials from Florida to the Bahamas. Following Hurricane Dorian in 2019, this much-needed assistance helped the affected communities to rebuild. These may seem like a small stepping stone, but for those on the ground – like the family that took refuge in their car during the storm, protected only by plywood that had blown against it – it is a life line, an oxygen supply.

“In this body of Christ, you are a vital part of the oxygen, the lifeblood that keeps children, families and communities alive during times of crisis. And that is no small thing.”

You may only be starting to realize it now, but you are supporting lives and bringing hope. You are not solely responsible – you are intertwined together with those around the world. In this body of Christ, you are a vital part of the oxygen, the lifeblood that keeps children, families and communities alive during times of crisis. And that is no small thing.

Rachel Conway-Doel is the Baptist Forum for Aid and Development Facilitator and Overseas Team Leader for BMS World Mission.

Following the 2019 earthquakes in Albania, Canadian Baptists helped provide food to displaced families and children.

 In 2015, a devastating earthquake in Nepal destroyed Hanuk’s school. Through the support of CBM and other global Baptists, the 11-year-old now has a new school and can study in safety.

2020-10-14T16:47:15-04:00Tags: , , |