News Articles

Tsunami relief: frequently asked questions

ADVISORY: On Friday, the International Mission Board anticipates posting “100 Percent Relief” a new one-minute video about the Asian tsunami disaster. It can be downloaded from www.imb.org or from www.bpnews.net for use in Sunday worship services.

RICHMOND, Va. (BP)–Here are some answers to questions many Southern Baptists are asking about the Asian tsunami disaster and how they can respond:

— What are Southern Baptists doing?

Initial efforts have focused on delivering food, water, medical supplies and other essentials to survivors in heavily damaged coastal villages in southern Thailand and Malaysia. Assessment teams and trained disaster volunteers have arrived in — or are heading toward — Sri Lanka, Southeast Asia/Pacific Rim and other areas where more than 100,000 people have died from the Dec. 26 earthquake and subsequent tsunamis.

— How much money has been allocated for relief efforts?

As of Jan. 5, projects totaling $300,000 had been funded, with additional relief projects to be funded as teams evaluate needs and design projects to meet those needs.

— What will Southern Baptists do long-term?

Meeting human needs as an extension of the hands of Christ means that the assistance needs to produce eternal repercussions, emphasized “Pat Julian” (name changed for security reasons), coordinator for Southern Baptist disaster relief in Asia. After the first wave of aid agencies has come and gone, it will be easier to see exactly what the true, lasting needs will be for the people and communities affected by tragedy, he said.

— What makes Southern Baptist work unusual?

“The timing of the relief work is going to be as important as the supplies we distribute,” Julian said. “We want to help people immediately; that’s always our first instinct. But we don’t want to be just another relief agency. We want our work to have a face. We want to establish relationships so they see us as individuals who love and care.”

— How do I volunteer to help at disaster sites?

In the early stages of relief, only volunteers already trained in disaster relief will be effective. If you qualify, contact your state Baptist disaster relief office. For contact information, visit www.namb.net/site/pp.asp?c=9qKILUOzEpH&b=238540.

After initial urgent needs are met, more volunteers, including individuals who haven’t been trained in disaster relief, may be needed. Monitor those opportunities at imb.org/vim.

— How do I give to help those hurt by the earthquake and tsunamis?

Online — Visit www.imb.org and click on “Give Now” to give using your MasterCard or Visa credit card.

By phone — Call 1-800-999-3113 between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Eastern time Monday through Friday to give using your MasterCard or Visa credit card. Have your card handy when you call.

Mail — Send checks to this address:

Asia Earthquake Disaster Relief

International Mission Board

P.O. Box 6767

Richmond VA 23230

— Is my gift tax-deductible?

Yes. Whichever method you use to give, you will receive a receipt by mail for tax purposes.

— Can I trust the International Mission Board to use my gift responsibly?

100 percent of what you give will be used to meet disaster needs. The International Mission Board is one of the few organizations who can make this claim — but only because Southern Baptists provide ongoing support through the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. That often means personnel are already in place who know the ropes — language, culture and local infrastructure — to evaluate needs and design the best systems for meeting them. It also means the structure is already in place to publicize the needs, receive gifts and channel them to where they’re needed most.

— How does the International Mission Board decide where to send relief funds?

Assessment teams with expertise in disaster relief visit areas to determine needs. They often work with local Baptist churches and other evangelical Christians in determining where help will do the greatest good — not just at the moment, but in the long run. Field personnel then request funding for specific projects. The IMB World Hunger and Relief Ministries office and Office of Overseas Operations evaluate each project by criteria designed to ensure effective and strategic response.

— My church is still collecting gifts for the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Should we send our money for relief instead?

No, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering is needed to keep overseas personnel on the field and send new ones, including those responding to this disaster and others that may come in the future. Missionaries are uniquely qualified not only to respond to physical needs in disasters, but to provide a caring touch, a listening ear — and to help answer spiritual questions survivors struggle with.

— Why isn’t the International Mission Board listed among relief agencies we see in the news?

Many news media use a list released by Associated Press. AP gets its list from an organization that requires members to sign a covenant that does not match the International Mission Board’s mission. IMB staff members are contacting specific news organizations to ask to be added to their lists.

— How were Southern Baptist missionaries affected?

Southern Baptist missionaries are safe and in place to minister to survivors.

— How can I pray?

A worker in southern Asia asks you to pray for:

* God’s consolation, peace and mercy for those who have lost loved ones or cannot find their loved ones

* protection and provision for those who have lost their belongings and are on the street

* Christ to be seen through those sharing His love

* Christians to make a great spiritual impact as they serve alongside people of other faiths

* tensions among cultures to dissolve in the light of the greater need for understanding and mercy

* relief workers to hold onto hope

* people around the world to provide resources for short-term relief and long-term reconstruction

* government officials to accept offered help and resist temptation in the presence of money and resources

* clean drinking water and Living Water

* those in distress to call to the Lord

How do I get updates?

Monitor Baptist Press (www.bpnews.net) and the International Mission Board (www.imb.org). Updates will be posted as they become available. Additional information also can be accessed at www.imb.org/pacrim and www.go2southasia.org.

    About the Author

  • Staff