From the cyclone-ravaged country of Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, Baptists have an unprecedented opportunity to reach the eight major ethnic groups and 135 subcultures found nearby with the gospel, a Myanmar citizen who is helping with relief efforts told the Southern Baptist TEXAN.
Consequently, the SBTC is working diligently to rally its churches to send monetary aid to the country where on May 2-3 Cyclone Nargis killed more than 130,000 people in the country’s coastal and delta regions, displaced hundreds of thousands, and devastated agriculture and infrastructure.
The relief worker, who requested anonymity, said about 300 Baptist churches need rebuilding from the cyclone, and most churches lack seed and equipment to begin again raising rice and other necessities on their land.
But the most pressing need is clean water because of storm-polluted water sources.
“We are troubled by the disaster, yet it brings an opportunity to reach Burma and the surrounding countries of China, India and Bangladesh,” the worker said.
The region hardest hit by the storm is where most of the Christian minority lives in the predominantly Buddhist country. Western relief groups, including Southern Baptists, have
relied on those with access to the country to carry out the relief effort.
Churches have only six months to rebuild or they will lose their government permits, the worker said.
“We have Christians in Burma, and they are soul winning,” he said. “We have an awesome, awesome opportunity, but we can’t do it alone. We need all God’s people.”
SBTC DR Director Jim Richardson said SBTC churches can send money to help in six ways: church rebuilding, clean water access, temporary shelter supplies, food and basic staples, agricultural recovery, and rebuilding of homes.
Most of these tasks can be completed relatively inexpensively, Richardson said.
For example, $20 can provide enough cooking oil and rice for a family of five to eat for 10 days. A thousand dollars will purchase materials to rebuild one church, and $100 will rebuild a home.
Also, $1,000 will buy a church a push tractor, fertilizer, diesel fuel where needed, and enough seed to begin raising crops for food.
Richardson said the goal is to rebuild 100 churches in six months before their government permits expire.
A group of Myanmar Baptists have conducted outreach amid the crisis and are winning some to faith in Christ as Christian charity has opened doors for talking about Jesus, the relief worker told the TEXAN.
“At one church there were five people who came to faith. They were ready to be baptized,” he said.
The worker asked Baptists in the United States to pray for God’s favor on the relief workers.
Baptist Global Response is also working with Southern Baptists to get aid to affected areas.
For more information on the SBTC effort, call Jim Richardson in the SBTC DR office toll free at 877-953-7282, or e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To aid inDisaster Relief efforts in Myanmar, please make donations payable to SBTC Disaster Relief and mail to SBTC, PO Box 1988, Grapevine, TX 76099