God calls local churches to show love and provide tangible support to their communities, and Send Relief is enabling them to do so. A collaboration of the International Mission Board and the North American Mission Board, Send Relief aims to partner with local churches to equip them with the finances and supplies necessary to help those affected by a disaster or crisis.
Right now, that means an intense focus on Louisiana in the wake of Hurricane Ida and preparation to help resettle thousands of Afghan refugees who have recently arrived in the United States.
Relief from Hurricane Ida requires immediate attention, and there are 26 Southern Baptist Disaster Relief sites coordinating currently across southern Louisiana. Basic necessities like food, water and generators, along with resources for temporary roofing and mold remediation make up much of the current need.
Already, Send Relief has tallied thousands of work hours and provided more than 735,000 meals for those affected by Hurricane Ida. Workers have put in overtime to ensure they are also prepared for the many Afghan families who will require assistance as they arrive United States.
“Southern Baptists are clearly being moved by the crisis in Afghanistan,” said Josh Benton, vice president of Send Relief’s national operations. “They want to be prepared to serve Afghan families and share the Gospel with them.”
Thus far in 2021, hundreds of churches and individuals have given money, signed up as resettlement host homes and registered for training to help in a variety of ways. People appear to be eager to “carry each other’s burdens” – as Christians are directed in Galatians 6:2.
One of the most interesting opportunities is a chance to receive personalized coaching in evangelism, discipleship and cross-cultural awareness from an Afghan refugee expert. Send Relief is also offering workshops on refugee care, as well as PDF downloads, video guidance and resources on ways to specifically pray for refugee ministry.
The influx of refugees offers Christians an incredible opportunity to show love to the stranger. Armed with the support of organizations like Send Relief, churches are paving the way for Christian hospitality.
For Southern Baptists seeking to engage the work of Send Relief, there are a number of ways to get involved. For hurricane relief efforts, monetary donations are most needed. Meeting physical needs provides an avenue for Send Relief volunteers and workers to meet spiritual needs.
“[We] seek to meet the real and felt needs of people and communities,” Benton said, “so that the Gospel can be proclaimed and a connection [made] to a local church.”
Send Relief also provides help to those escaping from sex trafficking and to families involved in foster care and adoption as well as ministries that provide clean water, education and medical care where it is needed most.
Ericka Andersen is a freelance writer. This story was first published at ERLC.com.