VALLEY FORGE, PA (9/17/15)—The Board of Directors of IM officially expressed its long-term commitment to supporting Syrian refugee and IDP communities in the recent International Ministries Resolution on Syrian Refugees. The resolution paves the way for a focused mobilization of human and financial resources to pray for, meet the needs of and prepare to receive Syrian refugees.
As a first step in this next stage of response, IM has sent an additional $10,000 in OGHS emergency funding to provide immediate relief for Syrian refugees and IDPs. Of this grant, IM partners Hungarian Baptist Aid and the Union of Baptist Churches of Serbia have each been given $5,000. The aid will be used to supply food and water, clothing, shelter and medical clinics. Future OGHS grants will support the efforts of all IM partners who are providing relief to Syrian IDPs and refugees.
Since 2011, Syria has been ravaged by a bitter civil war, and over 10 million Syrians have fled their homes to escape the violence. This includes 7.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) and some 3.88 million refugees.1 Although Syria has only 0.23% of the world’s population,2 the country is currently the single greatest source of refugees.3
As the crisis has deepened over the last four years, American Baptist Churches USA and American Baptist International Ministries have responded in several ways. Using American Baptist gifts to the annual One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) offering, American Baptist International Ministries (IM) provided $40,000 to assist partners serving refugees in Lebanon in 2012 and another $50,000 to serve displaced persons within Syria in 2013. Global personnel are working shoulder-to-shoulder with partners in Bulgaria and at the Hungarian-Serbian border.
The pool of OGHS funds available to make initial emergency grants is significantly depleted. Therefore, the ability of IM to provide aid for Syrian IDPs and refugees will depend on giving that is focused on this need. Individuals can donate in the following ways: 1. To make a tax-deductible contribution online, visit http://www.abc-usa.org/ and click “Give Online” at the top right of the page. In the “Comments” section, type “Syria Relief.” 2. Give through your church, designating your gift for “Syria Relief.” Or, click here to learn about more ways to give, referencing “Syria Relief”
“The world is awakening to the extreme crisis caused by the civil war that started in Syria four and a half years ago,” shares IM World Relief Officer Lisa Rothenberger. “Many of the refugees we are seeing in our media coverage today are Syrians who were uprooted from their homes years ago, and are now desperately trying to make their way to a more permanent place they can call home. They are joined by refugees from Afghanistan, Eritrea, Iraq and Somalia as they travel by land or sea, often for several months and sometimes for longer than a year. Even as we now see their faces, we are reminded that there are almost 60 million people today that have had to leave the place they call home. Our hearts break for them all. And our gifts to One Great Hour of Sharing will remind them that they are not forgotten.”
One Great Hour of Sharing is administered by the World Relief Committee of the Board of General Ministries of American Baptist Churches USA. The Committee facilitates American Baptist emergency relief, disaster rehabilitation, refugee work and the development of assistance by establishing policy guidelines and overseeing distribution of the annual One Great Hour of Sharing offering received by churches. Learn more at www.ABC-OGHS.org.
- “Worldwide Displacement Hits All-time High as War and Persecution Increase,” United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (18 June 2015), accessed 15 September 2015.
- “Syria,” United States Census Bureau (updated July 1, 2015), accessed 15 September 2015.
- “Worldwide Displacement Hits All-time High.”
American Baptist International Ministries celebrated 200 years of ministry in 2014. American Baptist International Ministries (IM) was organized in 1814 as the first Baptist international mission agency in America. It began its pioneer mission work in Burma, (now called Myanmar) and today serves God through more than 1,800 short- and long-term global servants in Asia, Africa, Europe, the Middle East and the Americas. Its central mission is to help people come to faith in Jesus, grow in their relationships with God and change their worlds through the power of the Spirit. It works with respected partners in over 70 countries in ministries that meet human need.
American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with over 5,200 local congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.