VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 10/7/16)—Initial grants totaling $25,000 in One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) emergency relief funds are on their way to American Baptist International Ministries (IM) partners in Haiti, Cuba and the Caribbean after Hurricane Matthew barreled through on October 3rd and 4th, 2016. The Category 4 storm brought heavy winds and torrential downpours on the island nations in its path.
OGHS 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 development assistance by establishing policy guidelines and overseeing distribution of the annual OGHS offering received by churches.
Hurricane Matthew entered Haiti on the southwestern coast with winds causing devastating impact. IM’s missionaries in Haiti, Nancy and Steve James who are now residing in the U.S., got word that people in Gran Goave (west of Port-au-Prince) and in the north of Haiti at the University of Northern Haiti (UNCH) experienced less impact. “Lots of rain, but no damages,” Steve reports. Kihomi Ngwemi and Nzunga Mabudiga, IM missionaries in Haiti, are also in the U.S. now.
Hurricane Matthew arrived in Cuba at Guantanamo, on the eastern side of the island nation. IM’s partner in that region is the Baptist Convention of Eastern Cuba. In an email received yesterday from IM friends, Pastor Israel Castro and Loida Rodriguez, who live and work in Chivirico, Cuba, reported on the extent of the devastation:
“We are back home. Thank God we have power. We had a lot of flooding, but few losses. However, Baracoa [a city on the eastern coast] is a total disaster. The whole town is devastated. We have been in communication with the missionary coordinator of the deaf ministry and 99% of deaf people lost their homes and everything they had. We don’t know anything about Maisi [also on the eastern coast]. We believe they lost everything, but still don’t know for sure. There is no communication. We hope that within 10 days the roads are fixed and we can bring some help like rice, soap and see if there is anything we can do. IM has no residential global servants in Cuba.
The Rev. Adalia Gutiérrez Lee, American Baptist International Ministries (IM) area director, said “Our hearts and prayers go out to our brothers and sisters in Haiti, Cuba, Jamaica and other Caribbean islands that have been affected by Hurricane Matthew. OGHS funds will be providing food, clothing and temporary shelter for the victims.”
American Baptists have longstanding relationships with Christian partners in the Caribbean. We have been serving in Haiti and eastern Cuba since 1922, in Jamaica since 2006 and with the Caribbean Baptist Fellowship since 2012.
Additional relief is urgently needed. You may give through your church; click here to make an online contribution by credit card; or mail a check to International Ministries, Attn: OGHS-Hurricane Matthew, P.O. Box 851, Valley Forge, PA 19482. Write “OGHS-Hurricane Matthew” on the memo line if you give by check.
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 approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.