VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 8/28/20)—With over 120 personnel serving in 30 countries, International Ministries (IM) reviews briefings and updates from multiple sources daily. IM’s continual alertness has enabled it to prepare for and respond to the emerging needs of its personnel and those to whom they minister, including during the on-going COVID-19 crisis.
In late December 2019, sources monitored by IM began noting reports of suspected cases of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China. In early January 2020, these briefings and other news sources indicated that the cases were of a novel coronavirus, and that the number of cases was rapidly increasing. The World Health Organization (WHO), which initially declared the novel coronavirus a public health emergency on January 30, 2020, later declared it a pandemic on March 11, 2020.
In response to the earliest news of the novel coronavirus, Benjamin Chan, IM’s Area Director for East and South Asia, conferred with partners in the region to identify needs associated with the growing health crisis. Chan noted, “There was an urgent need for medical-grade protection masks, coveralls, and other medical supplies for hospitals and patients in Wuhan.”
Recognizing the exigency of the circumstances, Chan immediately tapped into his networks of churches, NGOs, and relief organizations for support and supplies. On January 27, 2020, IM responded with a $12,250 One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) emergency relief grant to Amity Foundation, a Christian-initiated NGO and IM partner in China. IM also issued an appeal for donations to procure and deliver surgical-grade materials to hospital personnel treating patients in China, plus additional supplies to affected communities to reduce the spread of the virus. IM’s efforts ultimately produced $274,421 in funding for this purpose.
In February 2020, IM shipped over 8,000 coveralls and nearly 150,000 masks to Amity Foundation for distribution to hospitals in China. As the coronavirus spread in Asia, Chan continued his collaboration with churches and partners in Asia and North America to secure and distribute protective masks and other health supplies to targeted communities in Hong Kong. In March 2020, IM shipped over 43,000 protective masks to Hong Kong as part of this effort.
“IM’s contribution to the relief efforts in China and Hong Kong was made possible by the partnerships and connections built over decades of service in the region by Area Director Benjamin Chan and other IM personnel,” said IM Executive Director / CEO Sharon Koh. “God calls and places us all over the world so that we can be his eyes and ears, so that we can see and seize opportunities to help,” said Chan.
International COVID-19 relief efforts have continued with an additional $110,000 provided to 50 partners in 31 countries. We continue to invite and receive gifts for OGHS COVID RESPONSE: INTERNATIONAL here. Donations will be used by IM to respond to requests by international partners for emergency grants to support basic and unmet needs that continue today.
One Great Hour of Sharing (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 the distribution of the annual OGHS offering received by churches.
International Ministries, also known as the American Baptist Foreign Mission Society, works cross-culturally to invite people to become disciples of Jesus Christ and to proclaim, through both word and deed, God’s reign of justice, peace and abundant life for all creation.
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.