ALPHARETTA, Ga. (BP) – Between the brutal war in Ukraine, an alarming global hunger crisis and another year of battling the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic, 2022 was a year stained by global crises. Through it all, Send Relief was able to deliver the physical help and the hope of the Gospel that vulnerable communities desperately needed.
Southern Baptists did not falter in showing record-breaking support for the work of Send Relief, allowing the Southern Baptist arm for compassion ministry meet more needs and change more lives than ever before.
Responding to the war in Ukraine
With the abrupt and violent declaration of war in Ukraine earlier this year, millions of women and children were forced to flee the emerging warzones. Because of Southern Baptists’ record-breaking generosity, Send Relief was able to show up for these families in their time of grief.
More than 500,000 Ukrainian refugees received food boxes and hot meals to keep them healthy and strong on their journeys away from home. Nearly 50,000 heard the Good News of Jesus and witnessed His love in action through the 445 churches overseas who mobilized in response to this ongoing war. With many projects still underway, an estimated 1.3 million Ukrainians will be helped by Send Relief projects in the coming months.
One of the evacuees, Iaroslav, was moved to tears at the sight of Southern Baptist Disaster Relief and Send Relief teams waiting to serve weary families along the border. The coffee, snacks and Bibles Southern Baptists provided at the border prompted Iaroslav to share the story of his harrowing flight from invaders. Stories like these have been repeated several times over as Southern Baptists continue serving.
Hurricane Ian relief
With wind speeds topping 155 mph, Hurricane Ian made landfall on the Florida coast in September as a devastating Category 4 storm. Sudden storm surges and 15 feet of raging floodwaters killed more than 100 people. As rescue and mud-out efforts unfolded, damages were estimated to top $67 billion, making Ian one of the five most-destructive storms in United States’ history – and Florida’s deadliest natural disaster in nearly a century.
In response, Southern Baptist Disaster Relief (SBDR) teams from 29 state conventions utilized Send Relief’s emergency resources – including flood recovery supplies, protective suits, gloves, masks and other construction materials – to care for the region’s most affected families. One SBDR leader described the response as the best of Southern Baptist cooperative work. Two grateful homeowners, Stan and Amy Wiggins, were particularly blessed by Southern Baptist volunteer teams’ service.
Serve Tour, serving refugees and ministry in North America
Send Relief, the compassion ministry arm for Southern Baptists, also hosted more than 4,800 volunteers in several cities across North America during the Serve Tour. Through hundreds of projects coordinated through Send Relief by Southern Baptist state conventions, associations and churches, more than 17,000 people were served and 363 people made professions of faith in Christ.
During Send Relief’s Backpack Day on August 7, more than 900 churches participated as Send Relief provided more than 60,000 backpacks for churches to use in reaching out to their neighbors and sharing the Gospel.
Southern Baptist support in 2022 allowed Send Relief’s national ministry center operations to expand greatly, empowering even more marginalized communities to find help and hope in their difficult circumstances.
Send Relief held the grand opening for its ministry center in Puerto Rico that hosts mission teams as they serve the island. Then, in cooperation with Texas Baptists, Send Relief also launched a ministry center in Laredo, Texas, that helps to connect churches to ministry opportunities at the U.S.-Mexico border. That brings the total Send Relief ministry center count to 20 with additional 2022 launches in Baltimore, Md., St. Louis, Mo., and Toronto.
Send Relief also met urgent needs in the aftermath of Hurricane Fiona’s landfall in Puerto Rico and supported SBDR volunteers as they ministered to survivors of intense flooding in Kentucky.
Fighting a historic global hunger crisis
Between multiple international refugee crises, the war in Ukraine and ongoing pandemic recovery efforts, global hunger exploded at an incredible rate in 2022. Across the world, more than 800 million people still go to bed hungry every night, with more than 30 million of those living right here in the United States. Sadly, 9 million of those are children.
Gifts to Send Relief made it possible for nearly 1 million people living with constant food insecurity to gain access to nourishing, filling meals this year. One of the recipients of these emergency rations was Anmar, a 14-year-old boy who fled war-ravaged Syria at the height of the conflict. Joined later by his brother Mohammad, Anwar got a last-minute spot on a Greek “death boat” – makeshift rafts well-known for sinking mid-journey and often the only remaining choice for refugees with little money.