Relief workers see God’s providence

When South Carolina disaster relief volunteers were forced to delay a trip to India last fall, they assumed God would work in spite of the change to an early January date. In light of the recent tsunami devastation, there’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that God knew best.

“We were supposed to have gone in October, but things didn’t work out,” recalled Judy Fulmer of Prosperity, S.C. After hearing about the massive tsunami devastation in South Asia, it all made sense. “We knew that when this happened. That’s why God changed our plans.” She and her husband, Eddie, a layman who serves on the disaster relief task force for South Carolina Baptist Convention (SCBC), will join three International Mission Board representatives and two SCBC staffers to assess how Southern Baptists can provide ongoing relief to the South Asia region.

Several years ago South Carolina Southern Baptists began exploring a partnership with an entire region of the world, moving beyond a more typical relationship with a particular country. Included among the 1.3 billion people of South Asia are India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, some of the areas hardest-hit by the Dec. 26 tsunami.

“This trip was planned for months,” explained Cliff Satterwhite, SCBC disaster relief director. “It’s ironic that my responsibility was to go to Bangladesh and people were flying in to talk about strategic planning for disasters. I always tell folks we have to be flexible, so now we’re going into Calcutta.”

The South Carolina assessment team will touch base with contacts that have been developed through 11 years of ministry by Southern Baptists in the region. “We’re trying to work through a process and be there for the long-term. The news media will leave in the next couple of weeks, but we’ll try to work with a couple of strong churches doing ministry now in the area.”

“God opened the door for us to be in South Asia anyway,” Satterwhite told Baptist Press, telling of 17 South Carolina teams traveling to the areas as a part of the three-year partnership launched in 2005.

Disaster relief volunteers from the Southern Baptists of Texas Convention stand ready to be sent on medical and water purification assignments. “I’ve had unsolicited calls with five individuals who are packed and ready to go,” said Bill Davenport, SBTC consultant for disaster relief. “Their passports and shots are in order and they’re ready.” He’s contacting local Baptist associations to recruit additional volunteers who will join him and another SBTC staffer within the next few months. Efforts are underway by volunteers in Mississippi and Alabama as well.

State Baptist convention disaster relief directors work with the International Missio

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