Baptists in Europe and North America responded with relief efforts to Saturday’s earthquake in Ecuador, which killed more than 500 people and was described as the worst disaster the country has faced in 60 years.
Rescue and relief professionals from Baptist Respond24, an international rescue team based in Washington, D.C., Hungarian Baptist Aid and North Carolina Baptist Men are reportedly on the way to join local rescue teams and give ground support to Baptists in Ecuador.
“We will work with Ecuador Baptists, we will provide emergency relief and medical assistance, and we will survey and assess the needs and possible ways for relief and recovery,” Bela Szilagyi, vice president and operations manager for Baptist Respond24 said in a bulletin April 19.
The Baptist World Alliance set aside an initial sum of 15,000 for emergency relief to Ecuador at the request of leadership of the Union of Baptists in Latin America.
“The ravages are heartbreaking in 15 to 20 cities and coastal towns,” Milton Bustos, president of the Baptist Convention of Ecuador,” said in a BWA press release. “We are coordinating the work through the Baptist Convention of Ecuador and its 15 regional associations and are gathering aid for the five regional Baptist associations that were affected.”
The Baptist Convention of Ecuador, a fellowship of 250 churches and 20,000 members organized in 1972, asked the Union of Baptists in Latin America, one of six BWA regional affiliates, to be a contact point for Baptists around the world wanting to respond, according to Rachel Conway, network facilitator for the BReaD Network, an acronym for Baptist Relief and Development formed in 2015.
Conway, based at BMS World Mission in the United Kingdom, said leadership of the Union of Baptists in Latin America, which sent a representative to a recent BReaD gathering, has contacted the network’s facilitation hub to ask how the new group can help.
“As BReaD we are presently viewing UBLA as the lead partner in this intervention and they are currently developing a response to assist those affected,” Conway said in an e-mail to network members. She said the response will likely be both immediate and long term, asking members with existing partnerships in Ecuador or thinking about even a modest response to coordinate the work through BReaD and the UBLA.
Baptist World Alliance General Secretary Neville Callam assured the Ecuadorians of the support of the global Baptist family. “You can be assured of our prayers for all those affected by this difficult situation,” Callam said in his response to Bustos. “We also want to assure you of our desire to express solidarity with you as you seek to respond to the needs that exist.”