News Articles

SBC missionaries brace for El Nino effect

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Severe disruptions to normal weather patterns of countries around the Pacific Ocean threaten to add to the millions who are facing famine conditions this year.
The Southern Baptist International Mission is preparing contingency plans for the expected effects of El Nino, the Pacific warming of water off the western coast of South American which causes dramatic shifts in weather patterns.
“If this thing is anything like the predictions, in many areas there will be additional needs for hunger relief,” reported Bill Cashion, human needs consultant with the IMB.
In Honduras, a drought has virtually eliminated any hope of a harvest for many farmers. Requests for hunger funds are being processed to assist 27 churches in helping 436 families with beans and corn for food as well as seeds for planting.
IMB missionaries Tim and Dorcas Patterson have traveled this road before. During a drought in 1994, hunger funds were used by 12 churches to build silos and loaned seed to their members. The members were to pay back the seed plus 10 percent more. This harvest was kept in storage silos for future needs. The success of this previous effort rests in the fact that none of those 12 churches are seeking help during this drought.
On the island of New Guinea, 250 persons are reported to have died due to starvation and cholera since mid-August, according to wire services.
Also, thick clouds of smoke from brush fires make breathing difficult in New Guinea and other Pacific nations including Malaysia, Singapore, and the Southern Philippines.
Massive brush fires have also been reported in Australia. In Indonesia, aid officials say up to one million people are in danger of famine due to El Nino.
While forecasts as to El Nino’s consequences vary, most forecasters concur that the moderate El Nino conditions will persist through the Summer of 1998. Some predictors expect this El Nino to be considerably worse than those in years past. From famine to flooding, this upheaval in global weather patterns promises to thrust many of the world’s poor into increasingly desperate need.
Said Cashion, “The effects already being felt from El Nino coupled with the terrible famine in North Korea could easily result in a need for at least two to three million dollars in additional hunger funds for Southern Baptists respond to these catastrophes.”
Hunger ministries sponsored by Southern Baptists are funded through special gifts to the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund. While supervised by SBC missionaries and mission volunteers, hunger ministries do not receive Cooperative Program, Lottie Moon, or Annie Armstrong funding.
Gifts to the Southern Baptist World Hunger Fund are used 100 percent for hunger ministry with nothing taken out for administration or promotion.
While Southern Baptists are urged to give to the SBC World Hunger Fund throughout the year, October 12 is World Hunger Day on the SBC denominational calendar. The SBC Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission has informational material available for the pormotion of world hunger needs.

    About the Author

  • Steven S. Nelson