By Lonnie Wilkey
Editor, Baptist and Reflector
“Now that BGR (Baptist Global Response) has been rolled into what is now Send Relief International, they have asked state conventions to adopt different sections of the world to participate in humanitarian need projects and be the first to respond to that area when a disaster strikes,” said Wes Jones, disaster relief specialist for the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board.
“Tennessee Baptists have chosen the Caribbean region,” he said. “While other states will still respond in this area due to current and long-term relationships that some of them have, Tennessee will also be taking a lead role when disaster hits this area of the world,” Jones added.
The Caribbean area includes Haiti which was rocked by a 7.2 magnitude earthquake in the early morning hours of Aug. 14. The earthquake struck near the center of the country and has experienced aftershocks, Jones said.
News reports estimated the death count has climbed above 1,900 with thousands of others injured.
As of Wednesday, Aug. 18, Tennessee Baptists have not been called out due to unstable conditions in Haiti, Jones said. Teams may be needed for rebuild efforts later as conditions improve, he added.
“Tennessee Baptists have provided funds to provide financial assistance to personnel already in Haiti to help with emergency needs,” Jones said.
Jones said Send Relief International personnel are in touch with missionaries in Haiti. Jones encouraged Tennessee Baptists “to keep the people of Haiti in your prayers as this will bring up many memories of the large earthquake in 2010 and for the issues that would be created should the tropical storm strike the island.
“Pray also that through this disaster God will be glorified and many will come to know Him as Savior,” he added.
The Baptist and Reflector will provide updates on response to the Haiti earthquake as decisions are made by Send Relief International.
In a response unrelated to Haiti, Tennessee Baptists have been asked to send teams to Kingstown, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines in the Caribbean to assist the Saint Vincent Baptist Convention in ministering to people who were displaced by a volcano eruption in April, Jones said. “Teams are needed from now until the end of October,” Jones said.
Currently, all persons will have had to have their COVID vaccinations at least two weeks before going and have proof of vaccination.
Even with that, you will have to quarantine for two days when you get to the island before you can start work, he added.
Volunteers must provide for their own expenses, Jones said. “Taking the high side numbers that are given on the request, my estimation for a nine-day trip is that the cost will be (from Nashville) about $2,000.00 per person. Currently with advance purchase you can make it down in one day through Miami on American Airlines and the same on the way back,” he added.
Because this is an IMB/SR related project and it is part of a long-term response, Tennessee volunteers will need to go through their process when going, Jones said.
The process includes: completing an online application, having a background check ($20 per person), providing three personal references, interviewing with the team leader and completing a child safety training and video.
For more information, contact Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To donate, go to www.tndisasterrelief.org/contributions. Contributions for “Caribbean Disaster Relief” can also be sent to the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board, P.O. Box 682789, Franklin,TN 37068. B&R