Written by Craig Waddell, International Missions Coordinator
Experience would teach us that war and its tragic consequences are inevitable, yet our hope in Christ enables us to continue working and praying for peace. We want to make a positive difference in conflict zones, and our BGAV partnerships are one of the ways we can do that. Having relationships with the Body of Christ around the world, BGAV has had a hand in caring for those affected by the wars that continue to rage across the globe. There are as many as 110 “armed conflicts” currently happening across the world. We’d like to highlight just a few of these partners with whom we are working.
Thimar-LSESD in Lebanon is equipping local churches to care for refugees from the war in Syria. One in three people in Lebanon is a refugee, and the Lebanese economy has been crippled by conflict, corruption, and natural disasters. Yet Christian congregations have opened their doors to their former enemies, giving sacrificially to provide families with food and shelter, and a psychosocial support network for children. They have established a school system for children who are otherwise left to languish in their refugee camps. Virginia Baptists have contributed generously to this effort, but there is much more to do. You can help a refugee family make it through the cold Lebanese winter by providing blankets or a stove. You can send a child to school or make possible a day camp experience that will light a flame of hope and change a child’s life forever. Listen to the staff of Thimar as they sing a song of peace.
Since the escalation of the Ukraine conflict in February, Baptist churches along the border have welcomed hundreds of thousands of refugees from Ukraine. Every member body of the European Baptist Federation has been involved, but the churches in Poland, Slovakia, Moldova, and Romania, have been the first stop for families – mostly women and children – who have fled the fighting. At the height of the flood of refugees, they turned their buildings into campgrounds, setting up tents in the sanctuaries and on the balconies. Now the support is concentrated on long-term integration and education, as well as shipping material support to needy persons in the Ukraine. BGAV donations have funded tons of food and supplies shipped from Chelm, Poland, to churches across the border that function as distribution centers in their local Baptist associations. We continue to support regularly the 4:7 Boxes program of Project Ruth in Bucharest, Romania. Each month, several hundred food parcels are trucked across the border to the Odessa Baptist Association, to be distributed to families who need food. The Baptist associations in Bucharest and Odessa are also working on a local network for crisis counseling, especially for the children who have been traumatized. BGAV has been a strong support of the development of this ministry. Find out more about the 4:7 boxes.
Armenia was the first nation to adopt Christianity as its official religion, yet many western Christians could not find it on a map. BGAV has many friends among the Baptists there, having sponsored several of their indigenous church planters. Recently the armed conflict has intensified over the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh, with troops from Azerbaijan overtaking the area with widespread loss of life and destruction of property. Already Armenian refugees are fleeing to other parts of the country, and the Baptist churches anticipate receiving over 100,000 displaced persons. Armenia Baptist president, Asatur Nahapetyan, is a long-time friend of Virginia Baptists, and he is asking for our help. Your donation can equip a Baptist church in Armenia to shelter and feed those who have lost everything – help them to be the hands of Christ! Listen to an extended interview with Asatur.
The most recent explosion of conflict to rock our world has been in Israel and the Palestinian Territories. Shocked at the bloodshed and carnage, we mourn for all those who have lost loved ones or who are held captive. Even while we join in condemning Hamas’ horrific attack, our brothers and sisters in the Association of Baptist Churches in Israel, as well as the Council of Local Evangelical Churches in the Holy Land, beckon us to continue working and praying for peace. We are listening carefully to our partners in the region as they determine how we can materially support their efforts to demonstrate the love of Christ. We ask BGAV churches for your generous support, so that we can provide significant assistance when the appropriate time comes. Download prayer guide here.
Donate now to support our shared efforts to care for innocent lives trapped in these conflict zones (choose “Active Disaster Response – Conflict Zones” from the dropdown menu).