By Jeff Brumley
Governments, the United Nations and an army of international aid agencies are pouring relief supplies and workers into Nepal. And faith-based groups, including many Baptist organizations, are going in right along with them.
Baptist groups across the country are mobilizing for some kind of action, whether it’s offering prayers, fundraising, sending personnel to the disaster zone or all of the above.
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship on Monday said it was sending Eddy Ruble, one of its field personnel serving in Southeast Asia, to Nepal immediately. Ruble, who the CBF described as a seasoned disaster-response expert, is headed to the city of Kathmandu, where at least 1,150 of the more than 4,000 who died in the 7.9-magnitude quake on Saturday lived.
Ruble’s job will be to conduct assessments of need and collaborate with the global Baptist network to facilitate the supply of needs in the mountainous nation.
Some needs of the mostly Hindu nation are already known.
“Initial needs will be for food, water and shelter, but this will transition quickly to the longer-term needs of the victims in the poorest communities that are served by local churches within our partnership,” David Harding, the CBF’s international disaster response coordinator, said in a Monday news release.
Entire nation reeling
Others are on the way, as well.
“Assessment teams will be in the area shortly to determine the course of action to be taken to assist the local population at this time of need,” Pat Melancon, managing director of Baptist Global Response, said in a story posted on the Southern Baptist International Mission Board website.
North Carolina Baptist Men said it’s partnering with Hungarian Baptist Aid to send an assessment and medical team to Nepal. The team left Sunday night and is expected to rendezvous with local Baptist partners in Kathmandu on Tuesday, April 28.
“Please pray for the earthquake survivors that their needs will be met in a timely manner,” NCBM said in an announcement emailed to Baptist News Global and others. “Pray for the volunteer team members that they can assist in the best way possible.”
Baptist groups with long-standing presences in Nepal include the Baptist Missionary Society of the United Kingdom, and Baptist World Aid Australia.
They in turn are working with the Nepal Baptist Church Council, which lists 153 churches and 250 mission congregations on its website. The organization is a member of the Baptist World Alliance. The BWA said the group has about 20,000 members.
Its general secretary, Jirman Rai, told the BWA that virtually no part of the country was unaffected by the quake.
“Gorkha, Lunjung, Tanahun, Kapre, Sindhupalchowak, Kathmandu, Lalitpure and Bhaktapur districts are badly hit,” he said in a BWA news release issued on Monday.
Roads and communication have been disrupted everywhere and Kathmandu, the capital, was especially hard hit, he said.
“Many houses, temples and one old tower of Kathmandu were broken totally by the earthquake,” Rai said.
Networking efforts underway
Other Baptist groups, meanwhile, are encouraging prayer and donations from members in the United States, and preparing to funnel aid to Nepal.
The American Baptist Churches USA posted an appeal for prayer online.
“In tragedies such as this, our faith calls us to compassion and solidarity with those who have suffered loss,” said A. Roy Medley, the denomination’s general secretary.
The organization will partner with the BWA and Church World Service to channel funds and supplies to Nepal, he said.
Texas Baptist Disaster Recovery offered options for online giving and said it’s still gauging the best way to respond.
So are Baptists in Virginia.
“We are networking with other global partners who have assets on the ground or have the capability to put assets on the ground,” said Dean Miller, who coordinates disaster response for the Baptist General Association of Virginia.
Those likely partners are the BMS and the Nepal Baptist Church Council. United Mission to Nepal, a non-denominational umbrella group, is another likely partnership for BGAV funds and material, he said.
Giving and active response are likely to remain strong in Nepal despite its remote, land-locked and mountainous location, Miller said.
“Local is irrelevant if the media picks it up,” he said. “Media drives everything.”
“I think the images and news coverage takes care of that,” he said of the challenge of generating interest in such a remote, far-off country.
“And there’s also the Mount Everest legend,” he told BNG on Monday.
But something that isn’t being reported as much as the death toll and quake’s physical destruction, Harding added, is the extreme poverty endured by most Nepalese before the earthquake.
And while there was some economic improvement in recent years, it was mostly based on tourism — which will be impeded for years.
“This is going to devastate the many millions who are in chronic and acute poverty” in Nepal, he said.
Baptist disaster experts from several agencies participated in a conference call Monday morning to coordinate efforts, Harding said.
Their goal was to collaborate and to avoid duplication of efforts, he said. CBF made an initial contribution of $10,000 toward the effort.
Among the Baptist groups raising funds for donations are:
• North Carolina Baptist Men, makes checks payable to NCBM, PO Box 1107, Cary, NC 27512 and designate your check for “Nepal Earthquake Relief.” You can also give by credit card by calling Kecia Morgan at1-800-395-5102 extension 5613.