RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Southern Baptist relief workers expect hunger to be one of the major needs they find in Iraq when humanitarian aid finally is able to cross the border, and churches across the United States are being challenged to help minister to that need.
Iraq’s people have suffered under the regime of Saddam Hussein and 12 years of United Nations sanctions have made their lives even more difficult, says Jim Brown, director of world hunger and relief ministries for the International Mission Board.
For less than $60, congregations can assemble a box of dry food that will feed a family of five for about a month. Brown is challenging all 42,000 Southern Baptist congregations to mobilize food relief for hungry Iraqis.
“This is a great way for Southern Baptists who can’t actually go themselves to minister in a personal way to Iraqi people,” Brown said. “This isn’t relief that is going to be mass-distributed in a refugee camp either. It will be specifically delivered to hungry families in the towns and villages of Iraq once peace has been restored to the country.”
The food aid will be delivered without regard to ethnic or religious identity, Brown said.
The boxes will contain almost 70 pounds of staple food items: beans, lentils, rice, flour, salt, sugar, loose tea and powdered milk. Packing instructions and a detailed list of portion sizes are listed in the accompanying information sheet.
The boxes must not contain other items or literature of any sort, Brown said. Inclusion of evangelistic tracts could cause the aid shipment to be rejected by authorities.
A label on the outside of each box will quote John 1:17 in Arabic: “For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.” It also will identify it as “A gift with love from the Southern Baptist churches in America.”
Disaster relief offices of Baptist state convention will receive boxes and, in partnership with the IMB, will coordinate delivery to the shipping point, Brown said. Specific questions about the collection process should be directed to those offices (visit http://www.namb.net/dr/pages/state_phones.asp for contact information). People with other questions may contact the International Mission Board.
Churches or individuals who would prefer to make a donation toward the cost of the project can designate checks to “Iraq Response — General Relief” and mail them to: Iraq Response, P.O. Box 6767, Richmond, VA 23230-0767. Make checks payable to International Mission Board and designate “Iraq Response — General Relief.”
Contributions may be made online at http://resources.imb.org/index.cfm/fa/prod/ProdID/961.htm. Every dollar given will go 100 percent to relief ministries.
— For more information Iraq relief efforts: http://www.imb.org/worldhunger.
— Ready to serve?
— More Iraq news reports: http://www.imb.org/urgent
— Interactive map of the Middle East: http://www.imb.org/urgent/map.asp.