On April 9, 2021, John Wilburn had been studying at home in Barrouallie on St. Vincent. Suddenly, the atmosphere turned dark and cold as the La Soufriére volcano spewed a mountainous pillar of ash that blocked sunlight for 15 minutes. Just as suddenly, John’s ministry shifted from teaching at the Baptist Bible College of the Caribbean to offering emergency relief in the name of Christ.
The eruption laid a great crisis upon the people of St. Vincent and the neighboring Grenadine Islands (SVG). These islands, and particularly John’s community of Barrouallie, have always known poverty. The ash now covering the homes of thousands of people only intensified their lack. It left them homeless and without food.
Through BMM’s World Relief funds, John equipped Vincentian pastors to stock a food bank, and believers received resources to assemble relief packages. John’s home church also packed and shipped 15 barrels of provisions for those in need. The assistance met not only physical needs but it also satisfied spiritual hunger.
"I am so thankful for Baptist Mid Missions, which gave sacrificially so that we could meet the temporary need for physical food. But they met a deeper hunger through church services and discipleship studies provided for those individuals displaced from their community and living in local shelters.
World Relief helped establish a shelter at Baptist Bible College of the Caribbean for individuals displaced from the northern community of Owia, as well as helped us hold church services there—and evangelistic outreaches in the community, along with Bible studies in homes.
I am incredibly grateful the Lord helped us be a bright light during a dark time in SVG."
Baptist Mid-Missions created World Relief more than 50 years ago, but its origins trace back to Jesus’s ministry on earth. Because Jesus had compassion on the multitudes, biblical missions cannot exist without tangible compassion. World Relief supplies missionaries and national Christians with resources to help people who are weary and scattered within our fallen world. World Relief also gives supporting churches and individuals a trustworthy outlet to participate in compassion ministries worldwide.
As with the ministry in St. Vincent, tangible compassion strengthens the gospel’s validity in the eyes of nonbelievers. It also sustains national churches during hard times. In an Asian nation where BMM’s Bible translation society (BI—Bibles International) serves, national Christians are living through tremendous political turmoil. World Relief is helping a network of churches during food shortages and terrorism outbreaks.
At great risk to his safety, our national coordinator traveled two hours by foot and boat to reach the only bank still open in his region. God protected him during multiple trips as he transported cash that was distributed to churches to help their own members as well as internally displaced people and an orphanage. These World Relief gifts supplied food, hygiene supplies, medicines, and shelter.
It is difficult to fathom the intense suffering endured in this country. In the capital, terrorists shoot whomever they see, or they severely beat and jail anyone they choose. People die daily from bomb blasts or gunshots. They also suffer as COVID-19 ravages the country while hospitals cannot safely operate under these terroristic conditions.
When the terrorists moved into rural areas (where many Christians live), they took over villages and looted and burned churches and homes. They kill anything in their path, whether women, children, or animals. Villagers who flee to the forest for safety have no food, blankets, or water. One Christian leader wrote, “We have been crying, ‘How long, Lord?’ I strongly request you to pray for the suffering people continuously.”
Generous donors who support World Relief have become the answer to their prayers as they live out 2 Corinthians 8:14, “… that now at this time your abundance may supply their lack.” This supply is enabling valuable Bible translation ministries to continue in this country so that more people can be reached with the gospel and have the comfort of God’s Word.
The same Christian leader who expressed his lament turned his words into praise to God and thanksgiving: “We praise the Lord for meeting the needs for believers here through BI. We express our heartfelt thanks to you and each donor for having the funds to meet the needs.”
With COVID-19 and civil unrest raging around the world, many areas needed World Relief in 2021. These funds helped missionaries serve people amidst severe lockdowns in Latin America. Many Brazilians lost their jobs or could not supply their own needs. Missionaries gave substantial assistance to pastors, pastors’ widows, church members, and others under the umbrella of their ministries.
Many missionaries spent several hundred dollars per month to purchase food and basic needs. One church has distributed over 4,000 food boxes, helped by missionaries’ donations. With missionaries giving out of their own funds, World Relief helped reimburse them and gave additional funds to help 10 missionaries as they ministered to people in need. (See the article "They Found Hope" for more from Brazil.)
Peru has suffered ongoing, highly restrictive lockdowns. From the beginning of the pandemic, missionaries and their Peruvian coworkers have distributed care packages and helped medical workers in Peru’s severely overtaxed medical system. In 2021, World Relief funds helped missionaries cover medical expenses for people with COVID-19.
In other areas, World Relief assisted with earthquake recovery. It is helping repair BMM Japan’s damaged camp property. In Haiti, people ached under the heavy punches of an earthquake, hurricane, and civil unrest. BMM missionaries Maxime and Marie-France Pierre-Pierre felt the quake from their home in Port-au-Prince but were not affected. Maxime mobilized his church’s relief committee to aid those on the southern part of the island. Using World Relief funds and other donations, they assisted a church where many members’ homes were destroyed or severely damaged. The funds also helped small businesses get back on their feet.
The pastor of this church had lost his eldest son in a tragic accident the month prior. World Relief gifts calmed the spirits of weary souls and helped them stay afloat under so much pressure. As Maxime wrote, “May God’s name be glorified and may blessings be multiplied in the lives of all the supporters.”
Would you consider a gift to World Relief to replenish our funds? Your help enables us to be ready when the next disaster strikes. Give online at www.www.bmm.org/give and type “World Relief” in the project name. Or contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 440-826-3930 for more information. Thank you!
When Mozambique missionaries Joel and Joanie Troester welcomed Messias into their lives with patient kindness, it showed him that he mattered to them and to God.