- May 18, 2008
The team of Texas Baptist Men attempting to deliver aid to victims of the cyclone that hit Myanmar May 2 will stay in Bangkok, Thailand, to train Burmese Christians to meet the needs of their countrymen.
The seven-person rapid-response team left the United States May 11 hoping to enter Myanmar—also known as Burma—to assess needs and provide direct relief. The cyclone killed at least 8,000 and left another 50,000 missing.
However, once the volunteers arrived, they determined the most effective way to serve the restricted country was to use Bangkok as a base for training Burmese Christians.
“We try to go wherever doors open and see how we can minister to people in need,” said Mickey Lenamon, Texas Baptist Men associate executive director. “That’s what Texas Baptist Men has been doing for 40 years.”
TBM responded to a request for help from Saddleback Church in Lake Forest, Calif., and The Fellowship of the Woodlands near Houston.
BWA, Hungarians get in
Members of Baptist World Aid’s Rescue24 search, rescue and relief team—led by Hungarian Baptist Aid—have been granted visas to enter Myanmar to assess needs.
Other members of Baptist World Aid Rescue24 are waiting to respond to the needs that have been identified, if permission is granted.
Laszlo Pavelcze, rescue commander of the team, is coordinating relief efforts with disaster management authorities in China and will, along with another Hungarian Baptist Aid colleague, deliver and distribute a donation of tents, blankets, medicines and food on behalf of Baptit World Aid, the relief and development arm of the Baptist World Alliance.
The Baptists granted visas to enter Myanmar will make contact with Myanmar Baptists, as well as coordinate relief efforts.
Aid meeting scheduled
A special roundtable meeting of Baptist convention and relief and aid leaders is to be held in Bangkok on May 24 to determine the way forward with respect to Myanmar.
Initiated by BWAid director Paul Montacute, the roundtable includes Baptist leaders from Taiwan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Japan, Malaysia, Australia, Hungary, Sweden and the United States.
Organized by the Asia Pacific Baptist Federation, one of six continental unions of the BWA, “The main objective of the consultation will be to listen to the briefings on the situation inside Myanmar and plan follow-ups.”
Donations to the BWAid Emergency Response Fund can be made at www.bwanet.org/bwaid or sent to Emergency Response Fund, Baptist World Aid,
405 North Washington Street, Falls Church, VA 22046.
To support TBM disaster relief efforts or to give through the Baptist General Convention of Texas Disaster Response Fund, visit http://texasbaptistmen.org/dnn/donate_asp_1.html .
--Compiled from reports by BGCT Communications and the Baptist World Alliance