Baptists concerned about unrest in Burundi

Baptists in Burundi have expressed grave concern as to the state of unrest in the East African country.

“We ask you to continue to pray for us because some have left their jobs, homes, and churches,” said Juvenal Nzosaba, general secretary of the Union of Baptist Churches in Burundi. “Many people do not have food. It is a major problem.”

The unrests began in late April after Burundi President Pierre Nkurunziza announced he would run for a third term in elections originally scheduled for June 26. The announcement sparked protests by those opposed to Nkurunziza seeking a third term in office, leading to widespread demonstrations in the capital, Bujumbura.

 


Nzosaba told the Baptist World Alliance (BWA) that more than 20 people have died, more than 100 were injured and about 600 have been arrested, among whom were children and youth participating in the protests. More than 100,000 have fled the country, while thousands more are internally displaced.

Nzosaba stated that the country’s Supreme Court declared Nkurunziza's legitimacy to run for a third term, but opposition groups say the president’s actions jeopardize a peace deal that has kept ethnic tensions in check since the Burundian Civil War ended in 2005. Opponents assert that Nkurunziza is not constitutionally permitted to seek a third term in office.

A failed coup attempt occurred on May 13 while the president was in Kenya, at meetings to resolve the issues in his country.

“The government, NGOs, and others are telling Burundians to be calm and to look for peace so that they may enter the Election Day without obstacles,” Nzosaba said.

Burundi has some 50,000 Baptist members in approximately 300 churches affiliated with two BWA member organizations.

Baptist World Alliance®
© May21, 2015

 

Liberia Ebola free, Baptists say thanks

Baptists in Liberia have expressed thanks to God and to the global Baptist family after finally being declared Ebola free.

“Since Saturday, May 9, 2015, Liberia has gone through an incubation period of 42 days without any new case of the deadly Ebola virus. I thank my God,” wrote Olu Menjay, president of the Liberia Baptist Missionary and Educational Convention.

“So many churches, partners, friends and individuals aided us collectively and independently to sustain this great achievement,” Menjay said. “Indeed, we were overwhelmed by countless challenges and you provided us with help. You stood with us in tangible ways. We are grateful!”

A World Health Organization ceremony was held in Liberia’s capital, Monrovia, on May 11, to mark the achievement and to make the official declaration. “We join the leadership and people of Liberia to express our deepest gratitude to you. We join the leadership of Liberia Baptists to say thank you,” said Menjay, who is also a vice president of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA).

“We are utterly delighted at the news that Liberia has been declared Ebola free,” BWA General Secretary Neville Callam told Liberian Baptists. “You have endured much, but you persevered in faith and you were never forgotten. Prayers on your behalf were constant and hopeful.”

The BWA, through its Baptist World Aid division, supported Liberian Baptists in their response to the crisis through sensitization and education campaigns, the provision of sanitation equipment and materials to churches and communities, food relief, medicines and trauma counseling for families and communities.

Liberia confirmed its first two cases of the Ebola virus disease on March 30, 2014. As of March 17 this year, the date of the last known occurrence, 4,283 Liberians died as a result of the outbreak, which also affected Sierra Leone and Guinea. A total of 9,555 Liberians were known to have contracted the disease.

“May God bless Liberia. May the situation that has emerged signal a new day of opportunity and may it herald the renewal of hope,” Callam declared.

BWA helped to send containers of food to Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea to assist in Ebola relief

Baptist World Alliance®
© May12, 2015

Baptists among those who died in Nepal, rescue team arrived

An undetermined number of Baptist Christians have died in Nepal after the devastating earthquake that affected the South Asian country on April 25. They died after the church in which they were collapsed.

Some 144 Christians are known to have died in the earthquake in the predominantly Hindu country. As of April 30, the quake has claimed more than 6,000 lives and injured more than 12,000.

At least seven Christian church buildings were destroyed or severely damaged. Two of these were Baptist church buildings.

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) sent an initial sum of US$10,000 for emergency relief. Baptist World Aid, the relief and development arm of the BWA, is coordinating the global Baptist response for Nepal. Assistance is being given to all affected persons, regardless of religious affiliation.

A Baptist search and rescue team from Hungary, and North Carolina in the United States, arrived in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, on April 27. “Our team has safely arrived … they are at work together with the Nepali Baptist brothers,” a member of the Hungarian rescue team, Rescue 24, told the BWA. “Today a doctor and an SAR (search and rescue) specialist joined them from North Carolina Baptist Men.”

The Rescue 24 team has set up a camp to provide medical services in collaboration with the Nepal Baptist Church Council (NBCC), which formed a disaster response committee to deal with the crisis.

NBCC informed the BWA that the urgent needs are for shelter, water, food and medical services.

The Christian affiliated group, Micah Nepal, told the BWA that the urgent needs are for food and 5,000 tents, blankets and mattresses. There is urgency for more medical camps. Trauma counseling is also a need. “After missing family members, relatives and property disaster, affected people are suffering from internal and mental trauma,” a needs assessment by Micah Nepal indicated.

Rescue 24 made purchases for food, blankets, bedding materials and tent canvas for distribution, but these and other items are in short supply.

There are also difficulties in reaching many of those in desperate need. “The main problem is that rescue workers cannot get to the outer areas of the city and other parts of the country as the roads are practically destroyed,” Rescue 24 reported.

BWA was told that authorities were confining international teams such as Rescue 24 to the capital.

Donations may be made online at www.bwanet.org/give or sent to:
Baptist World Aid
Co/Baptist World Alliance
405 North Washington Street
Falls Church, VA 22046
USA

Baptist World Alliance®
© April 30, 2015

Nepal Baptists assist earthquake victims

Baptists of Nepal continue to provide assistance to communities affected by the April 25 earthquake that devastated parts of the South Asian country, including the capital, Kathmandu.

The Nepal Baptist Church Council (NBCC), a member organization of the Baptist World Alliance (BWA), is leading the response on behalf of Nepalese Baptists.

In addition to providing immediate food, shelter and medical assistance, NBCC is also offering trauma healing and spiritual support.

John Narayan, coordinator of the NBCC Disaster Response team, told the BWA that he, his family and other Baptist Christians are “also experiencing life under the tent here in Nepal.” Narayan was referring to the tent that they established in Kathmandu, in collaboration with Hungarian Baptist Aid Rescue 24, to offer immediate relief to earthquake victims.

Up to the time of reporting, some 540 tents were distributed to earthquake victims while 245 persons had received medical attention.

Other areas receiving assistance from the NBBC included Sankhu, Manikhel, Bukhel, Chaughare, Chhampi, and Sanogaun, all of Lalitpur district.

The Baptist Church of Mizoram (BCM), a BWA member organization from India, sent assistance and personnel to Nepal. The team arrived in Kathmandu on May 4. “Food is the immediate need,” said a report from BCM. “Also safe drinking water is of urgent need which seems to have been neglected by most relief workers.”

BCM stressed the dangers posed by the monsoon rainy season. “The wet monsoon season is approaching, contaminating the water supply system of the affected areas, which can increase water-borne infections to the common population,” BCM noted. “To prepare for this a borewell/ringwell construction is of urgent necessity.”

Baptist World Aid, the relief and development arm of the BWA, is coordinating the global Baptist response to the earthquake relief in Nepal.

Donations may be made online at www.bwanet.org/give or sent to:
Baptist World Aid
C/o Baptist World Alliance
405 North Washington Street
Falls Church, VA 22046
USA

Nepal Baptists providing emergency relief

Baptist World Alliance®
© May7, 2015

Baptist World Alliance appeals for aid for Nepal

Buildings damaged by the Nepal earthquake on April 25

The Baptist World Alliance (BWA) is making an urgent appeal to Baptists around the world to make meaningful contributions to emergency disaster relief in Nepal.

As of April 27, at least 3,617 people are now known to have died in a massive earthquake that hit Nepal on April 25. More than 6,500 people have been injured. These numbers are expected to rise.

Jirman Rai, general secretary of the Nepal Baptist Church Council (NBCC), said many areas in the country have been severely affected. “Gorkha, Lunjung, Tanahun, Kapre, Sindhupalchowak, Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur districts are badly hit,” Rai told the BWA.

The disaster in Kathmandu, Nepal’s capital, was especially severe. “Many houses, temples and one old tower of Kathmandu were broken totally by the earthquake.”

Rai reported that there were a number of aftershocks. “While writing this email another earthquake has struck,” he said. “I think this earthquake (aftershock) may bring more disaster to Nepal.”

He said that travel and communication in the country is difficult as roads and communication systems were badly damaged.

BWA General Secretary Neville Callam (4th right) in Kathmandu in August 2011. This area where the group stood was severely damaged by the earthquake on April 25

NBCC, a BWA member organization and main partner in the disaster response, is one of the fastest growing Christian groups in the predominantly Hindu country, with approximately 20,000 members in more than 150 churches.

Baptist World Aid, the relief and development arm of the BWA, is coordinating the global Baptist response for Nepal.

Donations may be made online at www.bwanet.org/give or sent to:
Baptist World Aid
Co/Baptist World Alliance
405 North Washington Street
Falls Church, VA 22046
USA

Baptist World Alliance®
© April 27, 2015