“We are affected people, helping affected people” said the leader of a local Baptist organization in Nepal, following the devastating earthquakes that rocked the country in May 2015. They were coordinating relief responses whilst living in tents, having had people close to them killed. I was struck by his vulnerability, but also his commitment to his fellow Nepalis.
Humanitarian crises are all around us: South Sudan, Vanuatu, Nepal, Myanmar, Ethiopia, Fiji, Ecuador. It is easy to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of situations like these. What can I do? What should I pray for, give to, focus on? Too often it can feel like we have to step up to the mark – that the responsibility is solely ours.
From my experience with the BReaD Network, I believe that there is hope in these seemingly chaotic and despairing situations. A key element for me is remembering that we are all family together, brothers and sisters around the world, worshipping one God. We are part of a global prayer network. All things are possible with God, and he uses all of us in his mission.
Each of these situations provides the body of Christ an opportunity to join together to use our different resources, skills and callings. The BReaD Network’s role is to enable organizations to each play to their strengths in responding to humanitarian crises in a more coordinated and effective way, whether that be through their expertise, prayers, funding, or partnerships across the world.
Following the devastation of the earthquake, Nepalis are now using their experiences to advise people in Ecuador who have been affected by the earthquake there. Although Cyclone Winston received little international media coverage, an American convention has been able to support the Fijian Baptists through the secondment of personnel. An organization that does not have partnerships in Ethiopia has used the BReaD Network to enable a church to support a sustainable livelihoods project in response to severe drought. The BReaD Network brings these contacts alive and it has been exciting and a privilege to see the body of Christ at work in this way. The community, solidarity and unity that the body of Christ affords us should not be forgotten.
Our response to the Baptist leaders in Nepal, and all these other countries: We are standing with you. We are family. You are not alone.
Rachel Conway is the Facilitator of the Baptist Relief and Development (BReaD) Network.