RICHMOND, Va. (BP)-Responding to an earthquake that killed thousands in the historic city of Bam, Iran, an initial team of Southern Baptist men is headed there to help meet physical needs.
The relief volunteers are no strangers to working in crisis situations. Most of them have served together in locations as distant as Venezuela and as close to home as Ground Zero in New York City.
“We’re going to offer that cool cup of water in times of need,” one of the workers said. “Jesus said, ‘Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for me.'”
When the call came for relief in Iran, they were scheduling flights and packing bags within a few hours. They know the challenges they’ll face there. When they go out to minister, they’ll carry three days of personal food and water rations with them and sleep in sleeping bags.
They ask Southern Baptists to pray that God will keep them safe, enable them to meet people’s needs and give peace to their families left in the United States.
LONG-TERM WORK PLANNED
Bam and the surrounding region were devastated by the pre-dawn earthquake Dec. 26 measuring 6.7 on the Richter scale.
With the death toll expected to top 30,000 and with at least 60 percent of the city in rubble, further assistance will be needed in the region. Relief workers and their local partners hope to work with residents of Bam and the surrounding areas to reconstruct and develop their communities.
“We are in the process of working with local contacts in Iran in determining ways we can meet needs,” an International Mission Board worker in world hunger and relief ministries said. “We have already authorized $50,000 and will be able to help more if needed.”
The earthquake ravaged Bam’s economy and left the city’s employed destitute. Most of Bam’s survivors have lost their livelihoods through personal injuries, loss of business or the death of a spouse. Relief workers and their local partners will explore opportunities to provide job training for these individuals and help develop industry in Bam and the surrounding region.
Relief aid will be implemented in several stages. The first stage will involve immediate emergency and relief distribution and last from two to four weeks. Projects for the reconstruction of local communities and Bam’s economy may follow.
One of the relief workers with earthquake relief experience said of going into Iran, “Even though the needs are overwhelming, I am ready to get my hands dirty and my heart broken.”
Contributions to relief efforts in Iran through the International Mission Board World Hunger and Relief Ministries may be made at http://resources.imb.org/index.cfm/fa/prod/ProdID/1118.htm or by calling 1-800-999-3113. Every penny donated will go toward food, shelter and other immediate needs in the aftermath of the earthquake.