God calls the local church to tangibly love and support their communities and Send Relief is enabling them to do so in a radically important way. The ministry, a collaboration of the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board, aims to partner with local churches to equip them with the finances and supplies necessary to help those affected by a disaster or crisis.
Send Relief and natural disasters
Right now, that means an intense focus on New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Ida and preparation to help resettle thousands of Afghan refugees who have recently arrived in the United States.
Relief from Hurricane Ida requires immediate attention, and there were 18 Southern Baptist Disaster Relief sites that coordinated responses across southern Louisiana and the Northeast. Basic necessities like food, water, and generators, along with resources for temporary roofing and mold remediation comprise much of the current need.
In response to Hurricane Ida in Louisiana and the Northeast, Send Relief has supported the efforts of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief. Together, they have already tallied nearly 750,000 meals, 21,124 volunteer days, and volunteers have provided recovery work for approximately 1,700 homeowners. With two crises on their hands, they’ve been working overtime to ensure they are also prepared for the many Afghan families who will require assistance as we welcome them to the United States.
Send Relief and refugees
Send Relief is not only focusing on natural disasters, but humanitarian crises that are international in scope and domestic in their implication.
“Southern Baptists are clearly being moved by the crisis in Afghanistan,” said Josh Benton, vice president of Send Relief’s National Operations. “They want to be prepared to serve Afghan families and share the gospel with them.”
Thus far in 2021, hundreds of churches and individuals have given money, signed up as resettlement host homes and registered for training to help in a variety of ways. People appear to be eager to “carry each other’s burdens” -— as Christians are directed in Galatians 6:2. Send Relief is there to tangibly activate that desire.
One of the most interesting opportunities is a chance to receive personalized coaching in evangelism, discipleship and cross cultural awareness from an Afghan refugee expert. Send Relief is also offering workshops on refugee care, as well as PDF downloads, video guidance and resources on ways to specifically pray for refugee ministry.
The massive influx of refugees offers Christians across the nation an incredible opportunity to show love to the stranger and welcome them with open arms. Armed with the support of organizations like Send Relief, churches are paving the way for authentic Christian hospitality to envelop our Afghan friends. Such generosity and hospitality is key to the flourishing of the gospel in times of desperation.
Partnering with Send Relief
For Southern Baptists seeking to engage the work of Send Relief, there are a number of ways to get involved. As for the Hurricane relief efforts, the best way to partner immediately is through a monetary donation. Physical needs are a priority right now. These physical needs, and the donations of Southern Baptists to meet them, provide an avenue for Send Relief volunteers and workers to meet spiritual needs. Regardless of the disaster at hand, Send Relief keeps the gospel at the forefront of what they call “compassion-focused ministries,” -— prioritizing evangelism within the meeting of physical needs.
“[We] seek to meet the real and felt needs of people and communities,” said Benton, “So that the gospel can be proclaimed and a connection [made] to a local church.”
There are arms and focuses that go beyond just disaster relief or immediate crises. Send Relief also has ministry locations planted to help those escaping from sex trafficking and families involved in foster care and adoption. They also provide clean water, education and medical care where it is needed most.
With such a vast immersion into communities nationwide, it is clear that God is accomplishing much through the work of Send Relief.