Baptist disaster experts face Ebola, opposition ministering to immigrants

During meetings Aug. 26-27, the North American Baptist Fellowship’s Disaster Response Network members discussed how to best address current and past disasters.

By Jeff Brumley

Members of the North American Baptist Fellowship’s Disaster Response Network covered just about every national and global hotspot in two days of meetings that concluded Wednesday in Lake Charles, La.

Representatives from 15 Baptist organizations — ranging from the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship and Baptist General Convention of Texas to the Baptist World Alliance and North Carolina Baptist Men — discussed current or planned responses to crises such as the Ebola outbreak in Africa and the influx of immigrants on the U.S. Southern border, NABF General Secretary George Bullard reported in an email to ABPnews/Herald.

To combat Ebola, members agreed their organizations would likely be most effective through fundraising efforts.

On the border crisis, the NABF disaster responders learned that the influx of immigrants, especially children, is expected to increase with the cooler weather.

BullardMug“So, groups were advised to be ready for this fall,” Bullard wrote.

They also shared about a unique challenge that comes with that ministry.

“Unfortunately the Baptist response is getting criticism from Baptists who do not see helping the ‘refugees’ as a good thing,’” he said.

The group also discussed ongoing recovery efforts in largely forgotten or overlooked disasters.

For example, the West, Texas, fertilizer plant explosion and Moore, Okla., tornadoes were heavily covered by media while fires and flooding in Colorado have gone relatively unnoticed, he said.

Meanwhile, “work is still going on in New Jersey in response to [Hurricane] Sandy, and probably will be for another year,” Bullard said.

The group also discussed ways to improve communication between network members and received presentations from VOAD. The mayor of Lake Charles thanked the group for help provided in the aftermath of hurricanes Katrina and Rita.