About three weeks after the Bahamas experienced one of the most devastating hurricanes in its history, a team of Southern Baptist leaders is on the ground in the island nation looking for additional ways Baptists can support relief efforts.
Representatives from Baptist Global Response (BGR), the International Mission Board (IMB), and Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) will participate in the effort and will finalize partnerships with Baptist churches in the Bahamas for additional support.
BGR is leading the Southern Baptist response to Hurricane Dorian damage in the Bahamas and began responding soon after the storm hit. BGR has partnered with local Baptist churches and the disaster response arm of the Bahamas National Baptist Missionary & Education Convention.
Since the storm hit in early September, BGR has been working through these national partners to provide food, hygiene items, blankets and tarpaulins for evacuees. They’ve also supported efforts to train counselors and chaplains in impacted areas.
Jeff Palmer, chief executive officer of BGR, asked Southern Baptists to “pray for the partnerships that are going on because that’s the key in figuring out what we can do, what needs to be done and how we can leverage the resources of Southern Baptists to help Bahama Baptists and their communities recover and do it in a way that gives glory to God.”
Southern Baptists will be working alongside the Bahamas Baptist disaster relief teams that BGR has trained and served beside in other disaster situations, Palmer noted.
“We already have those great relationships,” he said. “We’ve already empowered them. This is just helping them. At the end of the day, when all the disaster relief groups from the U.S. go back, the Bahama Baptists are still there. We want God to be the champion in this, and we want our local Baptist partners to be, as well.”
As SBDR network leaders arrive in the Bahamas this week, they will look specifically for ways SBDR chaplains can support the Bahamas’ Baptists, particularly pastors.
Sam Porter, executive director of SBDR, noted that with U.S. disasters he has seen 75 to 80 percent of pastors either move on or leave the ministry within two years of disasters. Southern Baptists, he said, have hundreds of trained chaplains with experience helping people through trauma who can be mobilized to help pastors and others.
“We have asked each state director to come up with the very best,” Porter said.
“That was what I call the A-team, the starting lineup so to speak of chaplains,” he noted. “When we send a team, we need to have a trained chaplain that they would be willing to put in the toughest situation of all. The Bahamas is one of those tough situations. There are several hundred people who they will discover, before this is over, have died or they will never find again.”
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SOURCE: Baptist Press