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Peruvian Baptists, missionaries help El Nino flooding victims

LIMA, Peru (BP)–Southern Baptist missionaries and Peruvian Baptists are scrambling to help victims of El Nino-related disasters in Peru.
Relief efforts focus on areas of northern Peru hardest hit by flooding and mudslides, said missionary Larry Phillips, strategy coordinator for Southern Baptist International Mission Board missionaries in Peru. The missionaries are working hand in hand with the Peruvian Baptist Convention as well as Red Cross and government officials.
Texas Baptist Men have donated three water purification systems to help supply pure drinking water and stem cholera outbreaks resulting from contamination. The systems were airlifted to Peru, where government officials waved them through normally complicated customs procedures. Air Peru then flew the units at no charge to the hard-hit areas of Piura, Chiclayo and Trujillo.
Mel Goodwin of Texas Baptist Men is training IMB missionaries and Peruvian Baptists to operate the industrial-sized units. They each weigh about 300 pounds but can be moved about as needs arise.
“Basically, the people have lost everything. Flooding and mudslides have destroyed people’s homes and those who had farms have lost all of their crops,” Phillips said. “Mobility is greatly restricted. Roads are destroyed and bridges washed out.”
The International Mission Board has made an initial grant of $30,000 in relief funds. Offers of aid have also come from Baptists in Florida and the Washington, D.C., area.
The Baptist camp at Santa Eulalia, near Lima, and the southern Peruvian city of Arequipa were damaged in the disaster. Missionaries surveying the damage in Arequipa in connection with the Red Cross and government relief workers expect to coordinate relief efforts there.
Some areas affected by the flooding and mudslides had already been targeted for starting new groups of Christians, Phillips said. “With this disaster, some good will come. We can establish relationships with our disaster relief which we can later build upon,” he said.
Torrential rains and flooding are expected to continue six to eight weeks longer.

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  • Wally Poor