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Baptist volunteers rush to help 1 million homeless Mozambicans

MAPUTO, Mozambique (BP)–One million people are homeless in flood-ravaged southern Mozambique, and Southern Baptists are mobilizing to help.

Southern Baptists in North Carolina and Texas dispatched a volunteer team Feb. 28 to set up water purification units and an emergency feeding kitchen for people forced from their homes by three weeks of heavy rains.

Those volunteers partnered with International Mission Board missionaries and Baptists from Mozambique and South Africa to organize an immediate response to some of the most desperate needs.

An IMB assessment team planned to enter the area to identify ways Southern Baptists might help with long-term ministry evangelism projects, said Jim Brown, the board’s human needs specialist.

The United States and the European Union mobilized military forces March 1 to help evacuate and feed 1 million people displaced by the disaster. Concern for the crisis was heightened by a violent new storm that was about to dump even more wind and water on the region.

The current disaster was created by a cyclone that hit hard on the heels of two weeks of torrential rainfall. The second cyclone, brewing in the Indian Ocean, would destroy crumbling homes and throw people stranded on rooftops into the raging water, observers predicted.

The volunteer team planned to take three water purification units and an emergency feeding kitchen into Maputo, Mozambique, along with two teams of South African Baptist volunteers, said Clyde Berkley, an associate director of IMB work in southern Africa. Their work was to be facilitated by First Baptist Church in Maputo.

Missionaries Nancy Carley and Kris Tolar helped pack bread rolls and canned sardines into small food packets that were being sacked up in large trash bags and airdropped to people stranded by the floods. One group was planning to make up family food packs that would take care of a small family for a week at a cost of about $10.

Missionary Scott Flowers was working with a team from Baptist Youth of Southern Africa that was taking $5,000 in Southern Baptist relief funds to purchase blankets and tarpaulins for people stranded in open country.

North Carolina volunteers Bob and Martha Mizelle and Roy and Shirley Smith were planning to deliver food supplies to a church in northern South Africa that was serving as a disaster shelter for flood victims there. That congregation’s pastor and several church members would then take the food on foot across a river and over a mountain to reach people otherwise cut off from assistance.

The massive disaster has rocked a country only just beginning to recover from a ruinous civil war that ended in 1992, and the people need prayer, said missionary Dianne Randolph.

“The people of Mozambique have lost their homes, crops and members of their families,” she said. “Pray that Baptists will respond to their cry for help through prayers, offerings and willingness to serve them.

“Pray that people will see Jesus in us as we minister in His name.”

Current prayer needs for Mozambique may be found on the IMB Prayer Line, 1-800-395-PRAY (-7729). Contributions toward the relief effort in Mozambique can be sent to International Mission Board, Hunger and Relief Fund – Mozambique Flood Relief, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230.

    About the Author

  • Mark Kelly